Protect minorities, lawmakers ask Pakistan

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

ISLAMABAD - Pakistani parliamentarians have demanded immediate government action to curb crimes against minorities following the migration of a Hindu lawmaker to India and a string of kidnappings, including that of a leading Hindu spiritual leader.

Ram Singh Sodho quit as a legislator in the Sindh provincial assembly late last month and shifted to India after receiving threats.

Sodho’s migration and rise in kidnappings for ransom against the minority communities were repeatedly mentioned in the National Assembly session.

Have we descended to that level of insecurity that minorities are forced to opt for migration? Have they lost faith in the religious and constitutional guarantees promised by the state of Pakistan? Express Tribune quoted Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) member Palwasha Khan as saying.

She said the situation was contrary to what was envisaged in the constitution wherein minorities were promised equal rights and protection of life, property and honour.

Ram Singh Sodho was elected a member of the Sindh assembly on a seat reserved for minorities on a Pakistan Muslim League-Functional (PML-F) ticket in the 2008 general elections.

Sodho received threats and shifted base to India, from where he sent his resignation to Sindh assembly Speaker Nisar Ahmad Khoro.

The PML-F is an ally of the ruling Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) in Sindh.

Incidents of kidnapping for ransom of Hindu children have seen an alarming rise during the last few months, forcing many families to abandon their homes and shift to India or other countries.

Lakki Chand Garji, 82, who is the ‘maharaja’ of the Kali Mata Mandir in Kalat town in Balochistan province and considered to be one of Pakistan’s most revered Hindu spiritual leaders, was kidnapped by a gang of armed men Dec 21 last year. He is yet to be traced and rescued.

Akram Masih Gill, a Christian member of the Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid, said minorities were facing toughest time ever.

We (non-Muslim Pakistanis) are being pushed into a blind alley. We are left with fewer options. It seems no political party has any framework for the protection and rights of minorities, Masih was quoted as saying.

Nawab Yousuf Talpur of the PPP was among those who spoke up against a trend among Hindu communities to seek shelter with their relatives in India.

They are leaving Pakistanthey dont believe that the state can protect them anymore, Talpur added.

Filed under: Immigration, India, Pakistan, World

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