How many Holocausts?

How many Holocausts?

By – Balesh Singh Dhankhar

Photo: Outlook India

There were nine million innocent and helpless Jews perished during the Holocaust while the world at large remained silent. Humanity has paid the price of that silence, and yet didn’t learn anything. Even today a much larger holocaust is taking place, in much larger magnitude, much larger in number of deaths, much more heinous to humanity, just because these innocent and helpless Hindus were born in Pakistan. Yet, the world, at large, chose to remain silent.

 For the past 65 years, an estimated 43 million Hindus vanished from Pakistan driving its largest religious minority of 24 percent in 1947 to virtual non-existence now to 1.3 percent. If the numbers of people who suffered were to be compared, this is more than five holocausts repeated one after the other.

The story is similarly scary in Bangladesh where the ethnic cleansing of Hindus cropped down their population from 31 percent in 1947 to a mere 9 percent now. As stated by Bangladeshi official census report, which claims 41 million Hindus are “missing” in the time period.

In Pakistan, Hindus are constantly being persecuted, killed, girls are kidnapped, forcibly converted and are regularly targeted by state and social hatred. The community is constantly living inside the gas chambers of state sponsored Islamic fundamentalism and starved of even basic freedom and human rights.

Hatred Being Injected in the Society

The root cause of such fundamentalism and hatred in Pakistani society is commonly attributed to the state’s infusion of hardline Islamic doctrine in to the country’s education and legal system by former President General Zia-ul-Haq in the 1980s.[1]

“Islamisation” of the country’s schools was imposed by an Act of Parliament requiring all government and private schools to follow a curriculum, which teaches topics including “Acknowledge and identify forces that may be working against Pakistan”, “Make speeches on violent jihad” and “India’s evil designs against Pakistan”.[2]

Over the last few years, the rights of Pakistani minorities have deteriorated at an alarming rate. I.A. Rehman, Director of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP), also associates this erosion with the increasing Islamisation of the country initiated by General Haq.[3]

A recent report by the US Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) on Pakistan’s education system, demonstrates that public schools and madrasas persist in teaching intolerance and hatred towards non-Muslims, particularly Hindus, while glorifying violence and jihad. [4]
Islamisation of the Pakistani legal system had an even more serious effect on minorities. Draconian laws like the blasphemy laws make it very dangerous for religious minorities to express themselves freely or engage in their own religious and cultural activities without fear of life.

Current estimates show that there are over 10,000 madrasas in Pakistan, whereas in 1956, there were only 244. Many of these school teach extreme and intolerant interpretations of Islam to children as young as five years old.[5]  USCIRF’s new report on the education system found that Pakistan’s public schools and madrasas negatively portray the country’s religious minorities, and that these institutions “reinforce biases which fuel acts of discrimination, and possibly violence, against these communities.” The report further said that Hindus were depicted in especially negative terms.[6]

Consequently, minorities live in constant fear of threats to their lives and property, desecrations of their places of worship, and punishment under the Blasphemy Act.[7]

Extirpating the Hindu Community, From Very Core

With the aim of extirpating the last a remaining Hindu minority in Pakistan, the fundamentalist forces are running spree of kidnapping and forced conversion of Hindu and other minority girls and even married women.

According to the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan over 20 to 25 girls are reported to be kidnapped each month, the commission also fears that over 90 percent of cases go unheard and unreported due to the fear of life of the girl and the family, and lack of faith in the country’s legal system.[8]

Girls as young as 12 to up to mothers are pressurised, threaten for life, forced and kidnapped to be converted to Islam and married off to someone else against their will.[9]

Pakistan’s discriminatory legislations make the situation even grave for those who try to fight for justice. Marriages of many minorities like Hindus and Sikhs are not even recognised under the Pakistani constitution.[10] This lets fundamentalists freely prey on minority women and there is practically no way to even save a married woman from being kidnapped and married off to someone against her and her family’s will, let alone young girls.[11]

The recent case of Rinkle Kumari, who was kidnapped from her house and forcibly converted and married off to Navid Shah, a muslim boy, is a typical case of forceful conversion. Except the fact, that it got huge media attention, whereas the cry of hundreds of other abducted girls each month go unheard.[12]

Despite the media attention and intervention by Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari on direct request by U.S. Congressman Brad Sherman (D-CA), and huge turnouts in protests for Rinkle Kumari, there was near to no justice given to Rinkle, in a so called democratic country.[13]

Kumari was slapped by her abductor inside the court, for testifying to her kidnapping and forceful conversion. She was raped, threatened and drugged while under the protection of Supreme Court of Pakistan, to read out a pre-written and false statement in the court.[14]
This case not only shows the gravest condition of human rights of minorities in Pakistan, but also shows how the whole constitutional system of Pakistan has been crippled under the Islamic fundamentalist powers.

The failure of the Pakistani authorities to provide safety to Hindus and the silence of the international community is contributing to the success of these fundamentalists. The kidnapping and forced conversion of another 15-year-old girl from Aaklee village, which led to the instant migration of over 71 Hindu families to Rajasthan, India, is a clear example of the growing fear among the minority community.[15]

Harassed by the State and the Law

Denying as basic right as of marriage, Pakistan legal system doesn’t even recognize Hindu weddings. This leads to severe harassment of Hindus and deprives married Hindu women of a Computerized National Identity Card (CNIC) and voting rights. In one such instance, Pram Sri Mai, a married Hindu woman who applied for a CNIC, was not only turned down by the National Database and Registration Authority, but also charged with “having an illicit relationship with a man and bearing illegitimate children.[16]
Something as basic as travel can pose problems for Hindu women. “If we stay at a hotel, policemen and hotel staff mistreat us. We end up spending nights on footpaths,” complains Naina Bai, 37, from Islamabad.[17]

A Pakistani Police official told India Today, a widely read Indian weekly, on condition of anonymity that large proportion of Hindus pay regular ‘bhatta’ as protection money to different groups of extortionists. Many extremist groups use this seen as way of imposing ‘Jaziya’, an Islamic tax imposed on non-muslims living in an Islamic state.[a5 – 18]

The issue of security for Hindus is compounded by the apathy of the administration and the judiciary, which in many instances even support the extortionists.[19]

The growth in the number of Hindu professional and community leaders kidnapped and killed in recent years is frightening. Despite of Human Right Groups voicing these issues, there is hardly any action by authority.[20]

Making the Faith Lose Its Faith

Islamic forces often with support of state actors regularly target Hindu temples and other sacred places to destroyed or encroach the land. Out of over 458 major temples in the country, only 26 are left. A 2011 report demonstrates that many Hindu temples in Pakistan have also been converted into picnic areas, hotels, schools, and business centers. The following are specific examples provided by the report:[21]

  • In Dera Ismail Khan (Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province), a Muslim group illegally acquired the 700 year old Kali Bari Mandir and converted it into a hotel.
  • In Islamabad, Hindus have no access to a temple situated at Saidpur model village.
  • The RaamKundayMandir in Islamabad, once considered a sacred site by Hindus, is being converted into a picnic area.
  • In Abbottabad (Khyber Pakthunkwa), a Hindu temple called Araya Mandir, already in decrepit condition, has been occupied by Muslims who are using it as a school for their children.
  • Eminabad in Gujranwala region has several temples dating back to the 15th century, which are in serious decay. Most of them are now being encroached by muslims and being used as stables.
  • A famous Hanuman temple in Chakwal (Punjab province) is being used by the workers of salt mines as their office.
  • A Kali temple in Peshawar (Khyber Pakthunkwa) has been taken over by local traders, who are converting it into a building.
  • In Punjab’s Bakkar city, SheeranWaliMandir has been used by Islamic clerics as a madrassa.
  • JogiTala Jhelum (Punjab), a sacred site for Hindus as well as Sikhs, is also in horrible condition.
  • The ShamshanGhat in Rawalpindi, used by Hindus and Sikhs to perform last rites, was demolished on July 19, 2010. [22]
World Witnesses With the Same Silence

Despite rampant human rights violations and war crimes committed by numerous Pakistani regimes, Pakistan’s actions have been repeatedly tolerated by the international community.

According to the 1981 UN Declaration of Universal Human Rights, among “… the genocides of human history, the highest number of people killed in the small span of time is in Bangladesh by Pakistani Army during 1971 conflict. An average of 6,000 to 12,000 people were killed every single day. This is the highest daily average in history.”[23]

The majority of those killed, raped, and maimed by Pakistani military forces were Hindus. A commission of inquiry appointed by the Pakistan government, the Hamoodur Rahman Commission,[24] recorded testimonies of Pakistani army officers, who quoted General Amir Abdullah Khan Niazi asking, “How many Hindus have you killed today?” as a matter of routine.[25]

Nonetheless, Pakistan has escaped international accountability for the atrocities committed in Bangladesh’s 1971 War of Independence, and still is, for its crimes against Hindus.

American lawmakers, who have provided billions of dollars in aid to Pakistan for its “support” in fighting the war in Afghanistan, have now come to realize that Pakistan’s military has misdirected the funding for other purposes. A report says that of the $12 billion given to Pakistan in aid between 2002 and 2008, including $6.6 billion in military assistance, only $500 million reached the military to fight terror. The rest was diverted to strengthen the military, bolster terror against India, and subsidize President Musharraf’s failing economy.[26]\

Way Out or No Way Out

It is well thought strategy to finish off Hindus out of Pakistan as it was carried out on Chakma community in Bangladesh (former East-Pakistan).

Efforts to achieve co-existence and harmony between Hindus and Muslims in Pakistan is equal to achieving a mirage as the continual ethnic cleansing process is in final stage and more intense than ever.

The question remains is, if the international community can at least save the lives of remaining 1.3 percent, less than 2 million, Hindus in Pakistan. Or shall we wait silently while Pakistan carries the final round of holocaust to completely wipe out the remaining population of oldest civilization from the very land of ‘Harrappa’, where it was born and lavished.

In May 2010, the European Parliament passed a resolution urging religious freedom and changes in Pakistan’s laws.[27] This was very strong signal to Pakistani government to improve human right situation in the country. The resolution also helped in raising awareness of atrocities that Hindu community is subject to in Pakistan.

We strongly urge Australian government, to fulfill its responsibility as awakened and informed member of international community, which always stood up for human rights across the world.

Not only on behalf of all Hindus in Australia or Pakistan, but also on behalf of humanity in its essence, we appeal to Australian government to take strong and immediate actions to mount pressure on Pakistan, so that human right violation could be stopped, and continuing holocaust of Pakistani Hindus could be ended.

 

References

[1] Pakistan Penal Code,

http://www.pakistani.org/pakistan/legislation/1860/actXLVof1860.html

[2] Ahmed, Issam, “”Pakistan: Do school texts fuel bias?, Christian Science Monitor,” (January 21, 2009)

http://www.csmonitor.com/World/Asia-South-Central/2009/0121/p04s03-wosc.html

[3] Baabar, Mariana & Mir, Amir, “Many Hindus are Leaving Pakistan,” (January 23, 2006), Outlook India,

http://www.outlookindia.com/fullprint.asp?choice=2&fodname=20060123&fname=Cover+Story&sid=1

[4] “Connecting the Dots: Education and Religious Discrimination in Pakistan, A Study of Public Schools and Madrassas,” (November 2011), USCIRF,

http://www.uscirf.gov/sites/default/files/resources/Pakistan-ConnectingTheDots-Email(3).pdf

[5] Haqqani, Husain, “Islam’s Medieval Outposts,” (November/December 2002), Foreign Policy,

http://www.husainhaqqani.com/reforming/journal%20articles/1/1.htm

[6]“Pakistan’s educational system fuels religious discrimination,” (November 9, 2011), USCIRF,

http://www.uscirf.gov/news-room/press-releases/3661-pakistans-educational-system-fuels-religious-discrimination.html

[7] Baabar, Mariana & Mir, Amir, “Many Hindus are Leaving Pakistan,” (January 23, 2006), Outlook India,

http://www.outlookindia.com/fullprint.asp?choice=2&fodname=20060123&fname=Cover+Story&sid=1

[8] PTI, Karachi, “Forcible conversion of Hindu girls on rise in Sindh: HRCP (March 11, 2012)”, The Hindu,

http://www.thehindu.com/news/international/article2984531.ece

[9] IANS, “Conversion of Pakistani Hindus condemned” (November 12, 2011), Zee News,

http://zeenews.india.com/news/south-asia/conversion-of-pakistani-hindus-condemned_741423.html

[10] “Hindu women’s CNIC woes,” (November 25, 2009), The Dawn,

http://www.dawn.com/wps/wcm/connect/dawn-content-library/dawn/news/pakistan/12-hindu+women+cnic+woes--bi-03

[11] IANS, “Conversion of Pakistani Hindus condemned” (November 12, 2011), Zee News,

http://zeenews.india.com/news/south-asia/conversion-of-pakistani-hindus-condemned_741423.html

[12] Sirmed, Marvi, “RINKLE KUMARI: THE TIMELINE OF INJUSTICE” (February – July, 2011)

http://marvisirmed.com/2012/05/25/rinkle-kumari-the-timeline-of-injustice/

[13] Khan, Omer Farooq, “Hindu girl’s conversion case reaches Pak SC” (March 27, 2012), The Times Of India,

http://articles.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/2012-03-27/pakistan/31244436_1_pak-sc-conversion-shelter-home

[14] Asian Human Rights Commission, “PAKISTAN: The failure of the judicial system – another Hindu girl was forcibly converted to Islam and her whereabouts are unknown” (March 7, 2012)

http://www.humanrights.asia/news/urgent-appeals/AHRC-UAC-042-2012

[15] Abbas, Qaswar, “Abduction, oppression and forced conversion is fate of Hindus in Pakistan,” (May 20, 2011), India Today,

http://indiatoday.intoday.in/story/hindus-in-pakistan-victims-of-abduction-forced-conversions-and-oppresion/1/138751.html

[16] “Hindu women’s CNIC woes,” (November 25, 2009), The Dawn,

http://www.dawn.com/wps/wcm/connect/dawn-content-library/dawn/news/pakistan/12hindu+women+cnic+woes--bi-03

[17] Abbas, Qaswar, “Abduction, oppression and forced conversion is fate of Hindus in Pakistan,” (May 20, 2011), India Today,

http://indiatoday.intoday.in/story/hindus-in-pakistan-victims-of-abduction-forced-conversions-and-oppresion/1/138751.html

[18] “Pakistan: The Land of Religious Apartheid and Jackboot Justice,” A Report to the UN Committee Against Racial Discrimination, (August 2007), Asian Centre for Human Rights,

http://www.achrweb.org/Review/2007/179-07.htm

[19] 

Ibid

[20] Press Trust of India, “Hindu spiritual leader kidnapped; protests across Balochistan,” (December 26, 2010), Deccan Herald,

http://www.deccanherald.com/content/123065/hindu-spiritual-leader-kidnapped-protests.html

[21] Ali, Tahir, “Pak’s Hindu temples turned into picnic spots, hotels,” (February 24, 2011), Rediff India Abroad,

http://www.rediff.com/news/slide-show/slide-show-1-paks-hindu-temples-turned-into-picnic-spots-hotels/20110224.htm

[22] HAF, “Hindus In South Asia And The Diaspora: A Survey Of Human Rights 2011” (2011),

http://www.hafsite.org/sites/default/files/HHR_2011_FINAL.pdf

[23] Hamoodur Rahman Commission, “HamoodurRahman Commission Report,” (October 23, 1974)

http://www.bangla2000.com/bangladesh/Independence-War/Report-Hamoodur-Rahman/default.shtm

[24] 

Ibid

[25] Athale, A., “Barbarians at the gate: Are we ready?” (February 19, 2009),

http://www.rediff.com/news/2009/feb/19barbarians-at-the-gate-are-we-ready.htm

[26] Verghese, B. G., “Taming Pakistan’s Army,” (October 29, 2009), The New Indian Express,

http://www.expressbuzz.com/edition/story.aspx?title=Taming+Pakistan+Army&artid=T9k8aIATL94=

[27] “European Parliament resolution on religious freedom in Pakistan,” (May 18, 2010), European Parliament,

http://www.europarl.europa.eu/sides/getDoc.do?type=MOTION&reference=B7-2010-0276&language=EN