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3:24 pm - Thursday April 22, 2613

Religious intolerance weighs down Pakistan

Rapid religious radicalization of Pakistan has made life for minorities (including minority Muslim sects like the followers of different Sufi saints, Shias and Ahmediyas) most difficult if not impossible. That the government of Pakistan has been unable to provide any protection to the minorities is a too well-publicized fact to dwelt on at any length here. The assassination in Islamabad, the capital city of Pakistan in broad day light of Shahbaz Bhatti, Minister for Minorities in the Pak Federal Cabinet a year back bears eloquent testimony to the fact that no member of the minority communities, howsoever, highly placed he or she may be, is safe from the assassin’s bullets or bombs.. Forced conversions and cases of intimidation making members of the minorities to flee their homes and hearths have been common occurrences. A month back a group of Hindus who had come to India for pilgrimage refused to go back to Pakistan and applied for asylum in India as they feared for their lives at the hands of Muslim extremist elements. What is worse is the fact that the federal and provincial governments in Pakistan watch passively and have been unable and worse unwilling to bring the culprits to book or assure a reasonable measure of safety to the members of the minority communities. None other than Zohra Yousuf of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan vociferously denounced the official indifference to the deteriorating state of the minority communities living in Pakistan. Speaking recently at a meeting at the Karachi Press Club on problems faced by religious minorities, Zohra Yousuf observed that members of the minority Hindu and Shia Hazara (Balochistan) communities had been compelled to seek sanctuaries abroad as they were facing numerous problems within the country. She went hammer and tongs against the.the growing threats to minorities had been compounded by the federal and provincial governments’ failure to take measures to address them adequately. She further charged that targeted killings, kidnappings for ransom, and incidents of violence and intimidation linked to religion had shaken the confidence of minorities in the state’s ability to effectively protect them, . Expressing serious concern at the growing religious intolerance in Pakistan and government’s inability to catch and prosecute those who were responsible for killing minority members, Zohra Yousuf noted that the authorities had failed to make any breakthrough in apprehending the killers of federal minister Shahbaz Bhatti, a Christian..Bhatti had criticized the controversial blasphemy law. Criticizing the government for not taking any action on promises of revising or repealing laws misused by radical elements to persecute the minorities, Yousuf said that the. authorities remained passive spectators in the face of hate speeches against religious minorities and this emboldened those who instigated violence. She further alleged that. the “Sarkari” Commission for Minorities was there only in name and had done to mothing to protect minorities from intimidation, discrimination and forced conversions. Commenting on the state of minorities in Pakistan, well-kown Pak human rights activist, Asma Jehangir had once said, ” If Muslims in India constantly crib to have no say and no power, they should come to Pakistan to see the plight of minority Hindus with their own eyes. They’ll never complain and learn to live peacefully with their Hindu brethren in India RJ Khurana, Bhopal

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