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Safeguarding rights of minorities

PRIME Minister Imran Khan has directed Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah to initiate an inquiry into the alleged kidnapping of two underage Hindu girls. He has also directed the Punjab and the Sindh governments to devise a joint strategy to address such matters.
Hindu community in the Daharki town of Sindh’s Ghotki district has been protesting against the incident and its leaders allege the two girls were kidnapped by people from two particular clans on the eve of Holi. They also allege that it was not free will and the girls were in fact kidnapped and forcibly converted to Islam and that police was also not registering an FIR. The intervention of the Prime Minister is a clear message to minorities that the Government cares about them and their rights. We hope that the Sindh Government would take urgent measures to tackle the issue in a satisfactory manner. This is not for the first time that such allegations of kidnapping of young girls and their alleged forced conversion to Islam has been made; such instances were also reported in the past. It may be mentioned that in 2016, Sindh Assembly passed a law against forced conversions, which was contested by religious parties. Succumbing to the mounting pressure, the Sindh government and Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) leadership later asked the then Governor, Justice (Retd) Saeeduzaman Siddiqui, not to ratify the bill. Pakistan’s Constitution and laws provide adequate safeguards and protections to minorities and they have been enjoying same rights as others and stray incidents, as is the case in other societies, must not be exaggerated. However, the Government needs to be extra-vigilant as such instances are exploited by the enemy for its own objectives as we have observed that Indian External Affairs Ministers also tried to poke her nose and received a befitting reply from Information Minister Fawad Chaudhdary. It would be in the fitness of things that a judicial inquiry of the incident should be carried out to get to the bottom of the issue. If the girls were kidnapped and forcibly converted then the culprits should definitely be penalized, otherwise the Constitution provide freedom of choice to every citizen.