September 1, 2020
Minority rights activists who have been examining issues of forced conversions across Pakistan have requested the government to take a look at not just the situation in Sindh but Punjab as well.
The request has been made from the joint parliamentary ‘Committee for Protection from Forced Conversions’ that was set up in the National Assembly on November 21, 2019, and Senator Dr. Anwar ul Haq Kakar was appointed its chairperson.
On August 24, 2020 the parliamentary committee held a meeting where the Chairman of the Council of Islamic Ideology (CII) Dr. Qibla Ayaz and Minister for Human Rights (MoHR), Dr. Shireen Mazari briefed the meeting, which decided to visit to Sindh to look deeper into the matter.
The Centre for Social Justice (CSJ), the Peoples Commission for Minorities Rights (PCMR) leading advocacy forums, have urged the parliamentary committee to probe the situation in Punjab province along with Sindh, where the abuse of religion and law has now become a growing phenomenon.
Executive director of CSJ and Chairman PCMR, Peter Jacob, said that minorities are feeling insecure because of rising incidents of forced conversions, and particularly of young Christian and Hindu girls.
According to evidence the CSJ and PCMR has released a list where out of 74 reported cases of alleged forced conversions and abductions, 55 of them were minor girls from the Christian community, 18 girls were from Hindu and one from the Kalash community.
Separately there was also a case, where the CSJ also sent a request for intervention in the case of a minor Hindu boy – Mohan Ram – who belongs to Bahawalpur.
Jacob said that forced conversions and marriages of minority girls have been consistently reported and have been a long standing human rights concern.
“It is a misnomer that only religious minority communities in Sindh are affected by this abuse of religion and law,” said Jacob. “This misconception may be due to the fact that Sindh assembly passed a bill in 2016 to address the issue which failed because the governor Sindh refused to give an assent due to pressure from extremist groups.”