Imran Khan’s Naya Pakistan is old wine in an old bottle. It continues to be a dangerous country for its minorities, especially the Hindus. The plight of the two minor Hindu sisters — one 15 years old, the other 13 — who were kidnapped and forcibly married after being converted to Islam in the Sindh province, showed once again how followers of religions other than Islam are systematically targeted. The winds of change that Khan wanted to bring in have refused to enter the badlands.
While the outraged Hindu community in that country carried out protests, India, too took up the issue of forced conversions with Pakistan by sending an unsigned diplomatic note to the Pakistan foreign ministry. Later, the Twitter skirmish between External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and Pakistan’s Information Minister Chaudhry Fawad Hussain on Sunday was a sign that India isn’t taking the matter lightly. Hussain claims that the incident involving the two girls is Pakistan’s internal matter but this isn’t the first time that Hindus have suffered the brunt of brute majoritarianism. Pakistan’s abysmal record of human rights violations is a matter of concern.
The Human Rights Watch report on Pakistan in 2018 states that “women, religious minorities, and transgender people face violent attacks, discrimination, and government persecution, with authorities failing to provide adequate protection or hold perpetrators accountable”. The same report highlights that “at least 17 people remain on death row in Pakistan after being convicted under the draconian blasphemy law, and hundreds await trial. Most of those facing blasphemy allegations are members of religious minorities”. PM Khan, himself a hardliner, hasn’t been able to reign in disruptive, vengeful forces in the country. The international community should pressure Pakistan to ensure the safety and well-being of the vulnerable sections of society.