“Pakistan is not a Hindu country. If you want to live in this country, you have to leave your faith, embrace Islam or leave Pakistan”. This is what Pakistani Hindus hear on a regular basis. And they do not get protection from law enforcement agencies – no support from politicians or political parties. For Hindus in Pakistan, it is a nightmare that began in 1947, when some Muhammad Ali Jinnah succeeded in dividing India and establish a Muslim country.
Meanwhile, according to a report, more than one thousand Hindu females are victims of abduction and forced religious conversion in Pakistan every year.
The report said, “The true scale of the problem is likely to be much greater, as a number of cases are never reported or do not progress through the law-enforcement and legal systems”. The report also called for action detailing forced marriages and conversions of girls and women in Pakistan.
The investigations found that cases of forced marriages/conversions follow a distinctive pattern: Hindu girls — usually between the ages of 12 and 25 -are abducted, converted to Islam, and married to the abductor or third party.
More than one thousand Hindu females are victims of abduction and forced religious conversion in Pakistan every year. Religious intelligence has gone so far in Pakistan that not only Hindus, other religious minorities including Christians, Ahmadis, Bahais, and Shias are equally targeted every now and then
The victim’s family usually files a First Information Report for abduction or rape with the local police station. The abductor, on behalf of the victim girl, files a counter FIR, accusing the Hindu family of harassing the willfully converted and married girl, and for conspiring to convert the girl back to Hindu religion.
Upon production in the courts or before the magistrate, the victim girl is asked to testify whether she converted and married of her own free will or if she was abducted.
In most cases, the girl remains in custody of the abductor while judicial proceedings are carried out, while the victim continues to get threats of intimidation, while most of them get pregnant by their abductors.
Upon the girl’s pronouncement that she willfully converted and consented to the marriage; the case is settled without relief for the family. Once in the custody of the abductor, the victim girl may be subjected to sexual violence, rape, forced prostitution, human trafficking and sale, or other domestic abuse.
The report also describes the historical and social context of the problem, and the particular grievances of Pakistan’s Hindu community in relation to the existing legal, political, and procedural guarantees for the protection of human rights of Pakistan’s religious minorities.
The report also highlights the patterns of violence through which the law and social attitudes become complicit in providing immunity for perpetrators, and the complex nature of associated crimes that make it difficult to categorize this crime as specific to religious identity.
Seeking anonymity, several Hindus in Pakistan gave extremely horrific and extremely sordid descriptions of their sufferings. One of them said, “Hindu girls were converted in the past, are being converted today, and I’m sure, will be converted down to the very last Hindu remaining on the soil of Pakistan. Whenever a Hindu girl is kidnapped or converted, a large number of local Hindus – in the face of fear and hopelessness – are forced to migrate to India”.
Another Pakistani Hindu said, “We are completely insecure here. We are looted but our voice is not heard by the people in the saddle, our temples are attacked in broad daylight but no one takes action, our girls are kidnapped and forcibly converted only to hear more empty promises of justice. Nothing happened in the last 65 years and we don’t expect any improvement in future. Things will only become wore”.
It is further learnt that religious intelligence has gone so far in Pakistan that not only Hindus, other religious minorities including Christians, Ahmadis, Bahais, and Shias are equally targeted every now and then.
According to information, repression on Hindus and members of religious minorities in Pakistan are so dire that even in some cases, when they protest abduction or forceful conversion, perpetrators of crimes bring false allegations of blasphemy, where state machinery plays the role of repressor instead of protector.