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land of bigots

February 6, 2013

It has been a year since Shahbaz Bhatti passed away. No, strike that, he did not pass away; his life was brutally cut short when he was murdered. Everyone from the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) to the Sipah-i-Sahaba Pakistan have been suspected with his murder, either by the police officials, or by the home ministry, yet no decent progress has been made.
In a way, it all makes sense, since only certain kinds of angry groups of men, who bay for blood and destruction, seem to carry any weight around here. Bhatti was NOT that kind of a man. He believed in fighting for rights the democratic way and had planned to introduce legislation that would ban hate speech and hate literature against all. He was campaigning for official holidays for minorities’ religious festivals and wanted the blasphemy law to be repealed which turned out to be a crime worthy of death.
Bhatti’s death is not a lone incidence of brutal violence. Planned acts of aggression and cruelty against minorities — whether ethnic, religious, sectarian or communal — is becoming a norm in the ‘Land of the Pure’. Intolerance has reached such levels that people with names that revealed their sectarian or religious beliefs are afraid to use them when they feel unsafe. Slain journalist, Mukarram Khan Atif narrated one such incident, which depicted the extent of narrow-mindedness and fanaticism in the country. He and another reporter were travelling south from Mohmand Agency through Khyber Agency and one of them had to use a name that would make him pass off as a member of the majority sect.
The minority communities — no matter who they are and where they are living — are constantly under threat. We have cases of forced conversions of Hindu girls, mostly minors in Sindh who are forcefully abducted and married to Muslim men and then presented to the court as religious converts. According to a treasury member of the Sindh Assembly, around 20 to 25 forced conversions take place every month in the province.
Acts of mob violence against Ahmadis seem to be rising at an alarming rate. The situation is such that any Ahmadi family is at risk of being threatened with the blasphemy law. Their places of worship are gunned and/or ransacked and the law-enforcement community and the state does nothing and silently looks on.
The perpetrators of the Gojra incident, where a whole Christian colony was burnt down, still roam free and the Hazaras in Balochistan are regularly targeted for their sectarian and ethnic identity. Also, nothing is done to check the dissemination of hate literature, some of which can be found even in mainstream bookstores. Last week’s tragic shooting of passengers travelling on a bus to Gilgit on the Karakoram Highway, where people were asked to show their CNICs and then taken off and killed — all of them were Shia — shows that we have reached an even higher level of prejudice and bigotry.
It would not be wrong to say that intolerance rules our society and no one is safe here in this country other than the men who perpetuate bias, bigotry and hatred?
Published in The Express Tribune, March 3rd, 2012.

f you’re not muslim,there’s no place for you in pakistani society.If you happen to be atheist,agnostic,gay,ahmadi,hindu,christian then you should be prepared to be treated as an inferior species.all the privilege is for those who conform a narrow definition of a good person as set by the maulvis.if you don’t fall within that definition then you don’t have even the basic human rights in our society.
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I agree with your overall opinion. But would like to argue that even if you are a Muslim but Shia, the room for you is shrinking. Even wihin Sunnis, the Sufis and Barelvis are under siege as are their dargahs.
But individual intolerance is one thing. What makes things worse is institutional apathy to individual violent acts of bigotry.
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his nation was created for minorities (from majority Hindu India) and look what you do to your minorities be it hindu, ahamadi, shia, baloch, christian, women or gay.
Muslim’s pre-partition feared Hindu persecution, which was no more than projection of their own diabolic nature of blind hatred towards other religions and carved Muslim pakistan; and what for? To exactly do what they feared Hindu India would do to them?
Now after 60years, inspite of few shameful incidents, Hindu India stands firm on its commitment to Vasudhaiv Kutumbikam, “the world is one family” while Muslim pakistan is increasingly becoming epicenter of global terror and intolerance.
Wake up pakistan!

According to recent reports, Hindus — who make up around two per cent of the total population of the country — are being kidnapping and forced into marriage to Muslim men. Often times, they are even forced to convert to Islam. This trend has been increasing over the past decade and things appear only to be getting worse. In Karachi alone, 15 to 20 Hindu girls are being abducted each month, mainly from the Lyari area and wedded to Muslim men. Most are minors; some no more than 13 or 14 years old. The leaders of the Hindu community point out that they accept the right of adult women, aged over 18, to make their own choices as far as marriage is concerned, but they object to the kidnapping of younger girls. Reports indicate that seminary students are frequently involved in these practices, with the limited research carried out suggesting that these girls are then treated much like slaves.
We need to take much greater notice of the abuse inflicted on the minorities within our borders. Their condition is worsening rapidly; tens of thousands have already fled abroad and we should feel ashamed that we have failed so miserably to end the persecution they suffer.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 2nd, 2012.
Read more: forcedconversion

Rather, I mention all this because viewing Pakistan as a country founded on the principle that minorities must be protected from the predations of majorities is both useful and morally powerful, and because that notion may contain within it a way forward for our nation as a whole. It was our neglect of this principle in the years leading up to 1971 that caused our second partition, the creation of Bangladesh. (Yes, East Pakistanis were more numerous, but in terms of power and dignity they were treated as an inferior minority.) And it is our neglect for this principle now that has many in Balochistan clamouring for a third partition by the carving out of a separate country.
Yet an independent Balochistan would in itself solve little. Balochistan is almost half non-Baloch. What of the rights of the non-Baloch in Balochistan? And what, for that matter, of the rights of non-Pashtu speakers in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, non-Punjabi speakers in Punjab, non-Sindhi speakers in Sindh, non-Urdu speakers in Karachi? What of the rights of Pakistani Shias and Christians and Hindus and atheists?
The problem of Balochistan’s mistreatment within the federation is related to the problem of the mistreatment of minorities in Pakistan generally, a particularly perverse and vexing problem for our country to suffer from since all Pakistanis are minorities, our largest ‘group’ — Sunni, non-Seraiki speaking Punjabis — making up little more than a third.
But, as a nation of minorities, and a nation founded on the principle of minority rights, we could at last acknowledge that we have done enormous harm by withholding from our citizens the equality to which they are entitled, by resorting to force too readily against those who disagree with us, and by seeking for too long to centralise what more properly belongs not to the federation, nor necessarily even to the provinces, but to the cities and towns and villages, and to the conscience of each individual.
The fact that this week’s senate elections went ahead, despite all the machinations, is a victory for Pakistani democracy. And democracy, through constitutional amendment, is moving functions to the provinces, as one would hope. Over time, more should be devolved, and more revenue should be provincial as well. (And there will come a time when, to benefit areas that continue to suffer from neglect, we must consider the reconfiguration of Pakistan from four provinces to perhaps twice as many — though vitally this should be done on a geographic rather than linguistic basis.)
Yet devolution cannot stop with our provinces acting as mini-despots. Once the present changes have had time to settle, provinces will in turn need to pass functions along to local bodies. Faisalabad, to take one example, has the population of Uruguay, a sovereign state; there is no compelling reason why its governance should be coordinated through Lahore.
The federation’s center will of course remain important. We live in a rough neighbourhood, so we need a military to deter foreign threats. We share the same river systems, so we need jointly to plan reservoirs, irrigation, and dams. We sell certain products and services throughout Pakistan, so we need compatible regulations. And so on.
But overall the role of the centre will have to shift from trying to tell each of us what to do, from micro-managing our regions and our lives, to defending us from the predations of those more powerful than us. It must protect angry Baloch students in Quetta, and Urdu-speaking businessmen in Peshawar, and Pashtun bus drivers in Karachi, and, yes, Punjabi schoolteachers in Balochistan. It must stand for our right not to be shot without trial, held without notification, or tortured under any circumstances.
As the day-to-day administration of our country flows out of Islamabad, the role and professionalism of our federal court system, and our supreme court in particular, must increase, not to persecute us for imagined thought-crimes but to protect us from each other and from the state. And for internal security we will need to build an apparatus that functions within the purview of the courts, not outside it.
We are each a minority of one. The crisis in Balochistan is therefore a crisis for all Pakistanis. We must address it together, or we risk surrendering the idea of Pakistan to tyranny, an unjust state where every citizen is denied their potential and must squirm as an illusion in someone else’s dream.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 3rd, 2012.

The context is right but do not agree with the content. Around us, there are many countries with sizable population of minorities living in harmony and relative tolerance. The problem is that our weakness, incompetency and extreme fear has disillusioned our leaders and establishment right from start. Given the fact that 80% of the population is poor, uneducated, unhealthy and utter hopeless, the only way these jokers gain support was to unite them by creating an imaginary monster out of india and till today spread false propaganda in media and education books. I think minorities in india are much happier and prosperous compared to here.

KARACHI: Take a page out of Balochistan’s book and wake up to the injustices being done with the Hindus in Sindh was the message from a minority MPA to the government and political leadership during the Sindh Assembly session on Wednesday.
Pakistan Peoples Party MPA Pitanber Sewani appeared agitated when he reminded the government and its institutions not to force Hindus in Sindh to follow the path of Baloch nationalists who are waging “a war for their rights”.
Moving a resolution against post-marriage conversion of Hindu girls, Pitanber Sewani wanted the government to frame a law against the forced marriages.
During his fiery speech, he said that young Hindu girls are being kidnapped and converted to Islam after they are subjected to forced marriage with Muslim boys. He said that this practice has created resentment among the minority communities living in Sindh.
Referring to a recent incident in Mirpur Mathelo where a Hindu girl Rinki Kumari, 16, was allegedly kidnapped by a Muslim boy Naveed Shah, Sewani said: “These people kidnapped her at gunpoint a few days ago and presented her in a lower court after her marriage with Naveed Shah. We have no objection if a Hindu girl marries a Muslim boy of her free will. But Hindus will not tolerate forced marriages.”
He said he feared that a situation is being created which may force Hindus to leave Sindh, but, “they would prefer to die rather than migrate”.
In his resolution he requested the Sindh Assembly to approach the federal and provincial governments to make a law in order to stop “post-marriage conversions” of minorities in Sindh.
“Around 20 to 25 forced conversions take place every month in Sindh. If this situation continues, the Hindus will have no choice, but to resist,” he said. “Today we are fed up with the Baloch resistance movement, tomorrow we may be irritated by the Hindus as well.” He added that after the forced marriage some people have threatened her parents with dire consequences.
Later, talking to the media Sewani demanded the chief justice take sou motu action. “We are seeking the intervention of the chief justice on forced marriages as well as the frequent killings and kidnapping of Hindus in Sindh,” he remarked.
PPP parliamentary leader Pir Mazharul Haq said that a law already existed on forced marriages and he suggested to the Speaker to refer the resolution to the law department so it could to review its contents.
Bachal Shah, also of the PPP, said that there was nothing wrong if a Hindu girl married a Muslim boy without any pressure. “The Indian newspapers are full with reports everyday of Muslim girls entering into wedlock with Hindu boys,” Shah said while referring to the marriage of Suzanne Khan, the daughter of India film actor Feroz Khan with Bollywood star Hrithik Roshan.
Many other MPAs, including Marvi Rashdi of the PML-F, Saleem Khurshid Khokhar, Farheen Mughul and Humera Alwani of the PPP, spoke in support of free-will marriage and condemned forced ones.
However, MQM parliamentary leader Sardar Ahmed said the content of the resolution was not clear, as it did not specify the religion of women being forced to convert to Islam.
Sindh Law Minister Ayaz Soomro quoted Articles 20 and 36 of the Constitution to say that there was a law on the issue.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 1st, 2012.

Hindu girl tells Supreme Court she would rather die than convert to Islam
by Jibran Khan
Seized by an influential Muslim, with the “political cover” of an elected official, 19 year old Rinkel Kumari launches a desperate appeal to the courts. “Justice is denied Hindus in Pakistan” and therefore asks to” kill me here “in the courtroom. The family, after reporting to police, forced to leave the village in Sindh. Each year there are 300 forced marriages and conversions

Islamabad (AsiaNews) – “In Pakistan there is justice only for Muslims, justice is denied Hindus. Kill me here, now, in court. But do not send me back to the Darul-Aman [Koranic school] … kill me”. This is the desperate, heartbreaking outburst of Rinkel Kumari, a Hindu girl aged 19, who has entrusted her heartfelt appeal to the judges of the Supreme Court in Islamabad. Her story is similar to that of many other young women and girls belonging to religious minorities – Christians, Hindus, Sikhs, Ahmadis – kidnapped by extremist groups or individuals, most of the time lords or local mafia, which convert them by force and then marry them . And that is what the girl said on 26 March, before the judges of the capital’s court.

The drama of Rinkel Kumari, a student of Mirpur Mathelo, a small village in the province of Sindh, began the evening of February 24: A handful of men seized her and delivered her a few hours later into the hands of a wealthy Muslim scholar, the man then called her parents, warning them that their daughter “wants to convert to Islam.”

Nand Lal, the girl’s father, a teacher of an elementary school, accused Naveed Shah, an influential Muslim, of kidnapping his daughter. The man has the “political cover” provided by Mian Mittho, an elected National Assembly Member, suspected of aiding and abetting. After identifying the perpetrators of the kidnapping of his daughter, he was forced to leave the area of origin to escape the threats of people affiliated with the local mafia. The father found refuge and welcome in Gurdwara in Lahore, in Punjab province, with the rest of his family.

As often happens in these cases, even the judiciary is complicit: a local judge ordered that the girl should be given to the Muslims, because her conversion is “the result of a spontaneous decision” and also stated the marriage was above board. A claim that was repeated on February 27, at the hearing before the court, after which the girl was “renamed” Faryal Shah.

However, the story of Rinkel is not an isolated case: every month between 25 and 30 young people suffer similar abuses, for a yearly total of about 300 conversions and forced marriages. Hindu girls – but also Christian – who are torn from their family and delivered into the hands of their husbands / torturers.

On March 26, she appeared before the judges of the Supreme Court in Islamabad, while the Hindu community waited with bated breath for the girl’s statements in court. To avoid pressure, the presiding judge ordered the courtroom cleared and – later – the dramatic testimony was relayed: in Pakistan, “there is no” justice, “kill me here but do not send me back” to the kidnappers.

Speaking to AsiaNews Fr. Anwar Patras, the Diocese of Rawalpindi, condemned “with force” the kidnapping and forced conversion. “The Hindus in Sindh – adds the priest – live a hard life. The reality is getting harder for them, they are forced to migrate because the state is unable to protect them and their property.

Kidnapped Christian girls, forced to convert and marry Muslims: difficulties for the return of one
by Qaiser Felix
Saba and Anila Younas, both Christian, were abducted June 16 by a group of Muslims, and forced to marry and convert to Islam. A doctor’s report establishes that the eldest is 16 years old and thus capable of marriage. Their lawyer announces a legal battle: we will bring it to the Supreme Court.

Lahore (AsiaNews) – There are slim hopes for the return home of the two Christian girls kidnapped by a group of Muslims on June 26 from Chowk Munda village in Punjab. According to the defence attorney, the situation is more complicated for the older of the two sisters, Saba Younas, who was forced to convert to Islam and marry a young Muslim the day after her kidnap.

On August 6 the judge Malak Saeed Ejaz of Multan Bench of Lahore High Court ordered for the medical examination of Saba Younas to ascertain her age. The medical report concluded that the girl is 16 to 17 years old and had reached the puberty; despite the fact her Catholic birth certificate plainly states she is 13. “After the medical report the chances of Saba’s return are less” family lawyer Rashid Rehman says “because a 16 to 17 years old girl has reached puberty and ‘is able’ to get married’”. Rehman noted another unfavourable factor was that on being questioned, the girl stated in the court that she is 17 years old and has ‘converted to Islam and got married on her own will’”.

If hopes for the older sister are virtually non-existent, the battle to free the younger of the two, 10 year old Anila continues. What’s more the return of Anila could convince Saba to changer her mind, on finding herself alone in a family she is no part of. According to the girl’s uncle, Khalid Raheel, Sbaba was “pressured and threatened” into given false testimony and that he has documents proving that “she is only 13”.

The family’s lawyers announce that the court hearings have ended; the sentence is set for Tuesday September 9th. Until that moment both sisters must remain in the women’s shelter where there were brought at the beginning of August, under the judges orders. “If there is no positive outcome – announces Rashid Rehman – we will appeal to Pakistan’s Supreme Court”.

Kidnapped Christian girls, forced to convert and marry Muslims: difficulties for the return of one
by Qaiser Felix
Saba and Anila Younas, both Christian, were abducted June 16 by a group of Muslims, and forced to marry and convert to Islam. A doctor’s report establishes that the eldest is 16 years old and thus capable of marriage. Their lawyer announces a legal battle: we will bring it to the Supreme Court.

Lahore (AsiaNews) – There are slim hopes for the return home of the two Christian girls kidnapped by a group of Muslims on June 26 from Chowk Munda village in Punjab. According to the defence attorney, the situation is more complicated for the older of the two sisters, Saba Younas, who was forced to convert to Islam and marry a young Muslim the day after her kidnap.

On August 6 the judge Malak Saeed Ejaz of Multan Bench of Lahore High Court ordered for the medical examination of Saba Younas to ascertain her age. The medical report concluded that the girl is 16 to 17 years old and had reached the puberty; despite the fact her Catholic birth certificate plainly states she is 13. “After the medical report the chances of Saba’s return are less” family lawyer Rashid Rehman says “because a 16 to 17 years old girl has reached puberty and ‘is able’ to get married’”. Rehman noted another unfavourable factor was that on being questioned, the girl stated in the court that she is 17 years old and has ‘converted to Islam and got married on her own will’”.

If hopes for the older sister are virtually non-existent, the battle to free the younger of the two, 10 year old Anila continues. What’s more the return of Anila could convince Saba to changer her mind, on finding herself alone in a family she is no part of. According to the girl’s uncle, Khalid Raheel, Sbaba was “pressured and threatened” into given false testimony and that he has documents proving that “she is only 13”.

The family’s lawyers announce that the court hearings have ended; the sentence is set for Tuesday September 9th. Until that moment both sisters must remain in the women’s shelter where there were brought at the beginning of August, under the judges orders. “If there is no positive outcome – announces Rashid Rehman – we will appeal to Pakistan’s Supreme Court”.

Kidnapped Christian girls, forced to convert and marry Muslims: difficulties for the return of one
by Qaiser Felix
Saba and Anila Younas, both Christian, were abducted June 16 by a group of Muslims, and forced to marry and convert to Islam. A doctor’s report establishes that the eldest is 16 years old and thus capable of marriage. Their lawyer announces a legal battle: we will bring it to the Supreme Court.

Lahore (AsiaNews) – There are slim hopes for the return home of the two Christian girls kidnapped by a group of Muslims on June 26 from Chowk Munda village in Punjab. According to the defence attorney, the situation is more complicated for the older of the two sisters, Saba Younas, who was forced to convert to Islam and marry a young Muslim the day after her kidnap.

On August 6 the judge Malak Saeed Ejaz of Multan Bench of Lahore High Court ordered for the medical examination of Saba Younas to ascertain her age. The medical report concluded that the girl is 16 to 17 years old and had reached the puberty; despite the fact her Catholic birth certificate plainly states she is 13. “After the medical report the chances of Saba’s return are less” family lawyer Rashid Rehman says “because a 16 to 17 years old girl has reached puberty and ‘is able’ to get married’”. Rehman noted another unfavourable factor was that on being questioned, the girl stated in the court that she is 17 years old and has ‘converted to Islam and got married on her own will’”.

If hopes for the older sister are virtually non-existent, the battle to free the younger of the two, 10 year old Anila continues. What’s more the return of Anila could convince Saba to changer her mind, on finding herself alone in a family she is no part of. According to the girl’s uncle, Khalid Raheel, Sbaba was “pressured and threatened” into given false testimony and that he has documents proving that “she is only 13”.

The family’s lawyers announce that the court hearings have ended; the sentence is set for Tuesday September 9th. Until that moment both sisters must remain in the women’s shelter where there were brought at the beginning of August, under the judges orders. “If there is no positive outcome – announces Rashid Rehman – we will appeal to Pakistan’s Supreme Court”.

Punjab: Muslims kidnap 14 year old Christian to convert her to Islam
Mehek Masih was taken from her home in broad daylight and under the threat of a gun. Muslim man intends to “purify her” making her “Muslim and my mistress.” Archbishop Saldanha cases of this type are “frequent,” the law does not protect minorities. One of the many “crosses” that Pakistani Christians have to endure.

Lahore (AsiaNews) – A group of Muslims have kidnapped a 14 year old Christian girl from her home under the threat of a gun and in front of witnesses. The incident occurred on August 17 last in Shisharwali, residential area of the city of Gujranwala, Punjab. According to reports from the Pakistan Christian Post (PCP), Mohammad Tayeb Butt along with four other Muslims raided the house of Rashid Masih in broad daylight, pointed the gun to the head of his daughter Mehek forcing her to climb aboard a white car .

Two young Christians, Imran Masih and Mehboob Masih, tried to rescue the girl, but Mohammad Tayeb pointed the gun at them and threatened to shoot. “She is a Choori” the Muslim shouted, at Mehek, using derogatory and insulting Punjab slang, to define a Christian (for example, when Muslim restaurant owners or street food vendors reject minority religious customers, ed) . He also added that the Choori Mehek will be purified “convert to Islam and become my mistress.”

Sources report that the local Christian activists from the All Pakistan Minorities Alliance (APMA) have tried to report the incident to the police. But the agents did not want to open an investigation – as is often the case – at the expense of an influential Muslim personality.

Interviewed by AsiaNews, the Archbishop Emeritus of Lahore and former president of the Pakistan Catholic Bishops’ Conference Mgr. Lawrence John Saldanha stresses that such cases are “common in Pakistan,” and families “can do little or nothing” to save the victims from their captors. He adds: “The Muslim family has an advantage, because the law favors them.”

Added to the tragedy of the kidnapping, the prelate continues, are “the future difficulties that the unfortunate young girl will suffer in the Muslim family.” These are “sad and tragic” episodes for the Christian community and represent, concludes Mgr. Saldanha, “one of the many crosses that the small minorities (even the Hindus) without hope must bear in Pakistan.” (DS)

Two Christian girls of 11 and 16 kidnapped, converted to Islam and forced to marry
by Qaiser Felix
The police fails to intervene, while the families fall into the hands of unscrupulous go betweens.

Faisalabad (AsiaNews) – Two Christian girls, little more than children, were kidnapped from their families recently, forcibly converted to Islam and then married off to strangers. Both of the kidnaps took place in Faisalabad, the third largest city in Pakistan, and both were completely ignored by the police. The phenomenon is not a new one however, underlined numerous human rights activist, but it is dangerously on the increase.

 

On August 5 Muhammad Adnan, a Muslim from Zulfiqar colony Faisalabad and his sister kidnapped Zunaira, an eleven years old Christian girl from her home in Warispura. After the kidnap, they forced her to convert to Islam and marry her kidnaper Muhammad.

 

The small girl’s mother, Abida, told AsiaNews: “When I was roaming in streets in search of my daughter two Muslim men of the area told me that they saw Adnan and his sister taking my daughter”. Abida decided to go to the kidnapper’s house, from which however she is thrown out. Returning home, she was contacted by two men who revealed the kidnappers identity and offer to act as negotiators for her daughters release in exchange for money.

 

Despite being desperately poor, Abida gives them 12 thousand Rupees (200 Euro): “I didn’t want to inform the police, because my daughter was engaged and I didn’t want my relatives to know. Unfortunately I found out too late that those men who said they would help me only want money: I have sold all I have, but it wasn’t enough and now I am alone”. Abida then turned to the police, but they refused help. The fact that the marriage is invalid given the age of the bride, “is not a matter for the police” said the officers.

 

In the second case Shumaila Tabussum, (16), was kidnapped from her home on August 16 by a Muslim man Mazher and some other unknown people. They told Shumaila that her father had been seriously injured in an accident and offered to accompany her to the hospital where he had been taken. The girl, without waiting for her mother, got into Mazher’s car: on the way she met two uncles at shouted the news of her father’s accident to them. These made their way to the hospital but found no-one.

 

Salamat Masih, 37, Shumaila’s father, immediately reported the abduction to the police. He told AsiaNews that he is “very worried because cases such as these are on the increase: Christian girls abducted, forcibly converted and subjected to becoming the wives of complete strangers”.

 

Khalil Tahir, chairman of a free legal aid organization “Adal Trust” and a well known Christian lawyer confirms this: “the growing number of attacks against Christians is worrying. We try to aid the victim’s families and at the same time help those who are subjected to this violence legally and practically, but the government must intervene with force if this is to be stopped”.

Faisalabad: Christian sisters kidnapped, forced to marry a wealthy Muslim
by Jibran Khan
The girl’s father reported the kidnapping. In response, the police accused him of abusing alcohol and his daughters. Neighbour: the authorities overturned the facts, because they are colluding with criminals. Catholic priest killings and kidnappings of young Christian women common practice, encouraged by the mullahs and supported by the government.

Faisalabad (AsiaNews) – A powerful Muslim businessman, with the help of a group of accomplices, kidnapped two Christian sisters, forced them to convert to Islam and marry him. The girl’s father reported the kidnapping to the police but the police blocked investigations by reversing the facts: the daughters fled because of their father’s violence. A priest from the diocese of Faisalabad points out that the kidnapping of young women has become “common practice”, because the authorities and police are “puppets in the hands of extremists.”

The father of two girls, Rehmat Masih is a Christian carpenter from Jhung District, in Faisalabad, Punjab province, an arena of repeated violence against religious minority. Muhammad Waseem – the parent explains to AsiaNews, – is a Muslim businessman in the area, long time leader of a banned extremist group. A few weeks ago he came to my house, along with gunmen, saying he was concerned about my daughters and wanted to marry them. ” In case of refusal, the man continues, the Muslim businessman threatened to abduct the two girls.

Masih filed a complaint with the police, but authorities did not want to open an investigation. On May 24 the dramatic epilogue, “My daughters were returning from the market – he says – and a vehicle owned by Muhammad Waseem intercepted them and threw them inside, taking them away.” The parent returned to the police to report the kidnapping. In response, officials said that “Waseem is a respected and admired businessman, the accusations against him are” false. “The authorities say the girls would fled because their father is an alcoholic who had “abused” them with “immoral actions.”

A neighbour argues the defence of the Christian father, emphasizing his goodness and integrity. “I’ve known Rehmat for 20 years – Shahid Malik told AsiaNews – he is a decent man. I have never heard words out of place out of his mouth. ” On the contrary, Muhammad Waseem is an influential man and we have seen him repeatedly threaten the Masih family. The police, he adds, are reversing the facts because “he can not do anything against Waseem, which is collusion.”

The next day, May 25, Muhammad Waseem married by force Saima Masih, in the presence of Mullah Muhammad Qasim Zubair. With the ceremony, according to Islamic laws, the Christian woman was “converted” and has embraced the Muslim faith. Local sources also make clear that the religious leader who officiated the ceremony is linked to outlawed Islamist groups (-e-Sahaba Sipe), protagonists of numerous kidnappings of Hindu or Christian women.

Rehmat Masih is desperate: the police asked him to forget his daughters, leaving him indefenseless. “Instead of serving the Punjab government – says the father – [the police] are the servants of extremist groups.”

Fr. John William, a priest of the diocese of Faisalabad, confirms that the kidnapping of young women has become “common practice”, because the authorities and police are “puppets in the hands of extremists.” In recent days, AsiaNews reported the tragedy of another young girl, again from Punjab, seized by force and forced to marry a Muslim (see AsiaNews, 12/05/2011 Punjab: Christian student nurse forced to convert to marry Muslim man).

Christian and Hindu girls, the priest continues, are forced to marry Muslims and convert to Islam, while police and local authorities “are paid” to settle the bureaucracy to avoid reports. The officials are in the hands of extremists and religious leaders in Friday sermons “speak openly of killing and kidnapping Christian girls.” And the government, said Father John, “is complicit.”
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In Pakistan, No Quick End to Islam Conversion Case

B.K. Bangash/Associated Press
Rinkel Kumari, center, a 19-year-old Hindu student who converted to Islam under disputed circumstances last month, left the Supreme Court in Islamabad, Pakistan, on Monday.
By DECLAN WALSH
Published: March 26, 2012
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ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — Hopes for the rapid resolution of a controversy over the conversion of a Hindu woman to Islam that has seized the Pakistani public were dashed on Monday, when the Supreme Court declined to decide the matter for at least three more weeks.

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Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry ruled that Rinkel Kumari, a 19-year-old Hindu student who converted under disputed circumstances last month, should spend the next three weeks pondering her fate in protective custody, along with another Hindu woman in a similar situation.

During an emotional and sometimes rowdy hearing in a packed courtroom in Islamabad, the capital, Chief Justice Chaudhry noted that there had been “serious allegations of abduction and forced conversion” in both cases.

“Both ladies must have an atmosphere without any pressure to make a decision about their future,” he said.

Moments earlier, the police dragged Ms. Kumari’s father from the courtroom after he had begun shouting. Such scenes have been typical of a case that has received intense media attention and has highlighted the sense of siege among a prominent religious minority.

The case started in Mirpur Mathelo, a small town in Sindh Province, where in 12 hours on Feb. 24, Ms. Kumari left her family home, converted to Islam and married Naveed Shah, a Muslim neighbor who said he had been courting her through Facebook and cellphone contact.

Ms. Kumari’s family and Hindu community leaders reacted angrily, alleging that she had been abducted at gunpoint and forced to convert by Mian Mitho, a powerful conservative Muslim politician who sits in the national Parliament.

After four bitterly contested hearings in provincial courts, the case made its way on Monday to the Supreme Court, where judges hoped that Ms. Kumari and a fellow convert, Dr. Lata Kumari, 29, could finally speak their minds clearly. But it was not to be.

Ms. Kumari, who wore a black hijab and was surrounded by six police officers, stumbled as she began her testimony, visibly nervous. Chief Justice Chaudhry then cleared the courtroom of everyone, including lawyers, to allow the two women to testify in private.

For the next 30 minutes, the two rival camps of supporters mingled uneasily in the marble-walled corridor. Ms. Kumari’s mother and sister prostrated themselves on the floor, reading from brightly colored religious texts. The Hindu men gave reporters accounts of oppression at the hands of Pakistan’s Muslim-dominated judiciary and police force.

Meanwhile, Mr. Mitho, the Muslim politician, surrounded himself with supporters who wore thick beards and white pointed caps. “Whatever happens is God’s will,” he said with an easy smile.

But tensions opened once the hearing resumed. Ramesh Kumar, the father of Ms. Kumari, rushed toward the judge’s bench, pleading for his daughter’s release. “Please do justice!” he cried as wailing female relatives also rose from their seats.

Security staff members tried to restrain Mr. Kumar, who grew more agitated; moments later he was carried from the courtroom, still shouting, by his hands and feet.

Wrapping up the hearing, Chief Justice Chaudhry noted that Hindus, who constitute about 2 percent of Pakistan’s 180 million people, were the “weak segment” of society. “We have to provide them some support,” he said.

He then ordered that the two Muslim converts be returned under police escort to a women’s shelter in Karachi until the next hearing on April 18.

A version of this article appeared in print on March 27, 2012, on page A8 of the New York edition with the headline: In Pakistan, No Quick End To Islam Conversion Case.
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Karachi: March 28, 2012. (PCP) Dr. Nazir S Bhatti, President of Pakistan Christian Congress PCC have strongly condemned forced conversions of Christian and Hindu women to Islam in Pakistan
and urged Supreme Court of Pakistan to ensure safety of Hindu girls Rinkle kumari and Dr. Lata to whom it ordered to send to Darul-Aman on March 26, 2012, instead of their request to send them with their parents in court hearing.

Nazir Bhatti said “PCC have information’s that Muslim clerics and family members of Muslim kidnappers who converted Rinkle Kumari to Islam and forced her to marry with Naveed Shah are threatening her in Darul-Aman “Women Shelter” of death if she again request Supreme Court to go with her parents in hearing on April 8, 2012.”

Rinkle Kumari requested Supreme Court of Pakistan Bench headed by Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Choudhry on March 26, 2012, “Send me with my parents or kill me here in court but don’t send me to Darul-Aman. Everyone in Pakistan is hand in glove, there is justice only for Muslims, there is no justice for Hindus and they will kill us”. While Dr. Lata Kumari requested Supreme Court Judges that “I want to meet my parents and to go with them”.

Nazir Bhatti said “Everyone knows that Darul-Amans in Pakistan are run by provincial governments where from Supervisor to guards are all Muslim employees who cannot provide free and fair atmosphere to Rinkle and Lata to decide about their future but Supreme Court ordered to send victims of forced conversion to Islam in such Shelters against their will to go with parents”

Nazir Bhatti said that Darul-Amans in Pakistan have very bad reputation and scandals of running forced “Prostitute Rings” of inmate women by Muslim lady Supervisors and let anyone enter at nights on small bribes to guards is common practice. Such incidents have been appearing in press media if any inmate complains but mostly it goes unreported on fear of harsh punishments.

“It is Ironic that Sindh High Court not allowed meeting of parents of these forced converted Hindu women nor dispersed hundreds of Muslim gathered in compound to favor Conversion to Islam with banners and play cards and same happens in Supreme Court of Pakistan” said Nazir Bhatti

Rinkle Kumari daughter of Nandlal resident of Mirpur Mathello Sindh province of Pakistan was kidnapped on February 24, 2012, and her parents were informed by a Muslim cleric that she have accepted religion Islam. Dr Lata daughter of Dr Ramesh resident of Jaccobabad city was kidnapped from Karachi, whereas another Aasha Devi from Larkana had also been abducted forcibly.

There are hundreds of abduction and forced conversion cases of Christians and Hindu women in Pakistan every year which go unreported due to poverty of parents who cannot afford long legal battles or in fear of influential Muslim kidnappers.

The Islamic law of apostasy which decree death to those who leave religion Islam after conversion keep victims of forced converted women silent that they must be killed and their kidnappers use weapon of apostasy law to refrain them to speak their mind and will freely in front of Pakistani Courts if such issue is brought before them.

Nazir Bhatti said that Supreme Court of Pakistan have never rescued victims of blasphemy law or other Islamic laws while appeal of Christian woman Asia Bibi in Lahore High Court is pending from years who was sentenced to death on accusation of blasphemy.

“We have no great hopes in Rinkle Kumari and Lata Kumari kidnap and enforced conversion to Islam case from Supreme Court of Pakistan because it also avoided arrangement of meeting of these women with their parents or let them go with their families as demanded by victims and ordered to send them to Shelters where they are facing pressure and threats from Muslim religious leaders and family of kidnappers of killing on apostasy” added Nazir Bhatti

Nazir S Bhatti, Chief of Pakistan Christian Congress PCC said that time have come that Supreme Court of Pakistan may prove that it is higher court for Christians, Hindus, Ahmadi and other religious minorities of Pakistan also nor of Muslims only or it is part of Federal Shariat Court of Pakistan where Islamic laws are upheld.

A Pakistani minister has claimed that 100 non-Muslim women, predominantly Hindu, have been forced to convert to Islam in the country in recent months.
Minister for National Harmony Akram Masih Gill, a Christian, said that if true, the practice went counter to all things established by Islam as the faith prohibits forced conversion.

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