Pakistan’s Sindh Assembly passes resolution to stop forced conversion of girls
Karachi, July 17 (IANS): Amid rising incidents of abduction and forced conversion of Hindu girls in Pakistan, the Sindh Assembly unanimously passed a resolution seeking protection for girls of all communities, an end of forced conversion of girls and action against the elements involved in the practice.
The resolution was passed on Tuesday, only after its mover opposition Grand Democratic Alliance (GDA) member Nand Kumar Goklani, agreed to amend the resolution by removing the word “Hindu” from it so that it was generalised and addressed the issue of kidnappings and conversion of girls in Sindh province irrespective of their religion.
The ruling Pakistan Peoples Party as well as Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM), Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) and the Jamaat-e-Islami supported the resolution, reported The Express Tribune.
According to Goklani, “Hundreds of Hindu girls have been kidnapped in recent years and subjected to forced conversion.” “In a few months this year,” said the GDA lawmaker holding printed photos of some of the victims, “41 girls belonging to Hindu faith have been kidnapped and converted.”
He said an amended law to protect the Hindu community drafted and tweaked by him had been lying with the Minority Affairs Department since April with no interest visible on part of the government to present it in the House.
He added that the Hindu community would have no objection if their girls left home and decided to convert of their free will, but they were being kidnapped and forcibly coverted.
Supporting the resolution, Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan’s Mangla Sharma questioned why only Hindu girls were being kidnapped. Sharma said official figures showed that the ratio of minority communities was on a decline because of lack of protection they were being offered.
“Our ratio was 3.72 per cent of the total population in 1998 census, which is now 3.57 per cent. [Has] anyone ever [thought] why the ratio of minorities has reduced by 0.15 per cent in the past 20 years?,” she asked
PTI’s Khurrum Sher Zaman suggested removing the name of Hindu girls from the resolution and said: “We have great respect for the non-Muslims living in Pakistan, but we should avoid using such words like ‘Hindu girls’ as this defames Pakistan aboard. Kidnapping incidents also happen with Muslims from other sects too.”
PTI’s Dewan Sachal said basically it was a law and order issue as Muslim girls were facing similar problems.
Abdul Rashid of the Jamaat-e-Islami too supported the resolution and rejected the notion that only girls are being converted. “I think the number of non-Muslim boys converting have surpassed the girls,” he said and suggested that this issue be resolved amicably by making a law to address it.
Pakistani Minister for Parliamentary Affairs Mukesh Kumar Chawla assured the House that the government was serious in introducing a law against forced conversion.
Minorities Affairs Minister Hari Ram Kishori Lal affirmed that the issue of kidnapping of Hindu girls existed and said: “We are making efforts to control it”. However, he did not share what strategy the government would adopt to stop the practice.