Socio-economic conditions of religious minorities in Pakistan   

hindu temple pakistan

Pakistan came into existence in 1947 after the partition. When Pakistan and India came into being, massive migration took place. People from Pakistan moved to India and vice- versa (Stump, 2008). As everyone knows that Pakistan is a Islamic country and its rules and regulations are based on Islamic constitution. Hindus including Dalits in Pakistan are in minority. According to Prof Saswati Sarkar, based in the United States of America, “Hindus constituted about 15 percent of the population of West Pakistan (current Pakistan); by 1998 it was about 1.6 per cent – the population has declined by about 90 per cent in about 50 years.” Hindus have been rendered invisible (Gopal, 1994). Hindus are subjected to all kinds’ social, religious and legal discrimination in Pakistan at the hands of the Muslims. Hindus and Christians are engaged in sanitary work in different government sectors and private institutions.

Hindus women are doubly vulnerable and often mistreated by the Muslims in several parts of Pakistan. The Hindu women in Pakistan are struggling with serious problems, such as discrimination, cultural assimilation, political oppression, exclusion from the development plans, forced conversion, non-availability of their religious education, language, as well as the lack of opportunities in the democratic participation. In Pakistan, Scheduled Castes fall victim to caste based discrimination including the practice of ‘untouchability’. According to a study conducted by Pakistan Dalit Solidarity Network in association with the International Dalit Solidarity Network  in January 2013, Official statistics claim that Scheduled Castes consist of 0,25% of Pakistan’s total population which amounts to approximately 330,000 persons. Dalit women in Pakistan experience multiple forms of discrimination. Dalit women also fall victims to sexual abuse, violence, and abductions. Some Dalit women are subject to kidnapping and forced conversion into Muslim families under the disguise of marriage. The Pakistan Hindu Council, a social organization in Pakistan, has estimated that at least 25 Hindu girls are reported kidnapped each month in Sindh, leaving out those cases that are unreported. In Sindh province of Pakistan, members of minority communities fled to other countries due to social and religious discriminations, sectarian violence and risk of being accused of blasphemy. In matters of employment, Hindus including Dalits face formidable employment challenges. Mostly, Hindus are the last one to be hired. According to Kapil Dev, Hindu right activist, sanitary jobs are exclusively for Christians and Hindus in Pakistan (OpIndia, 2021).According to a report published by Times of India (5 August, 2020), Hindus are forced by the Imran Khan government to convert for employment.  National Commission for Human Rights, Pakistan reports that groups due to their ethnic and /or caste identity are perpetually disadvantaged in their access to the labor market and are vulnerable to coercion.

Vandalisation of Hindu temples are common affairs in Pakistan. Anila Gulzar, a Pakistani human rights activist and spokeswoman for Justice for Minorities in Pakistan said that only 20 temples out of 428 are left in Sindh. According to a report published by Swarajya, a Hindu temple was set on fire by a Muslim mob. When the Government of Pakistan booked some miscreants to pay fine for destruction of the temple, Muslim clerics pressured Hindus to pay fines on behalf of more than 100 people responsible for the attack.  It is reported that Hindus paid an amount totaling Rs.30 lakh (around INR12.5 lakh). Prime Minister Imran Khan Government did not provide any safety net to the Hindus in Pakistan. He kept on paying a lip service to the worsening plight of Hindus in Pakistan. His own party Tehreek-e-Insaf(PTI) banner displayed slogans like “ Hindu baat se nahi, laat se manta hai”(“ A Hindu does not understand words, only kicks.”)

In his presidential address to the Muslim League in Lahore, 1940, Quaid-i-Azam  Muhammad Ali Jinnah, founder of Pakistan said that, “The Hindus and Muslims belong to two different religious philosophies, social customs, and literature[s]. They neither intermarry nor inter-dine together, and indeed they belong to two different civilizations which are based mainly on conflicting ideas and conceptions.” There is no point in expecting something better for Hindus including the Dalits, Christians in the state of Pakistan. The more the Pakistan economy slid to no point of return more social, religious and political discrimination Hindus would meet in the coming years. Dr. B.R. Ambedkar, chief architect of the Indian constitution, advocated that the Dalits should migrate permanently to India from Pakistan to India.

Dr. Rahul Kumar, PhD in sociology from the Center of the Social System, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi(India). He writes on social, political and international issues.  The views expressed in this article are personal. 


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