Islamabad: It cannot be denied that "minorities, and particularly Hindus, have faced persecution over the past few decades" in Pakistan, said a daily that wished minorities would "stay and feel confident they have a place in this country".
An editorial in the News International Thursday said that the issue of the migration by some 200 Hindu families from Jacobabad to India remains a controversial one.
"Certain Hindu leaders and human rights activists have claimed that members of the community were fleeing Sindh because of the law and order situation and fear of forcible conversions. These claims have been vehemently denied by the authorities who had formed a three-member committee to probe the incidents," it said.
Interior Minister Rehman Malik has "in typical fashion declared the whole affair a conspiracy while the General Hindu Panchayat at Larkana has said the community is confident the Pakistan government can protect it, and its members will not be leaving the country".
"If true, this is good news," it said.
"We certainly want our minorities to stay and feel confident they have a place in this country," said the daily.
The editorial noted that Pakistan Army chief Ashfaq Pervez Kayani had indirectly touched upon the issue in his Independence Day message, in which he said Pakistan should be a homeland for all communities and groups.
"But we cannot deny that minorities, and particularly Hindus, have faced persecution over the past few decades," the editorial said.
The daily went on to say that "...Hindus have faced more abductions, more harassment and more threats in recent years than at any time in the past in both Sindh and Balochistan. As a result, many have indeed fled. What we need to do is create an environment more conducive to all minorities and make sure they are made to feel equal citizens of the state".
"It is unfortunate that even in areas of Sindh, where Hindus and Muslims have lived in harmony for centuries, tensions have recently begun to creep in. Steps need to be taken to tackle this problem and ensure more Hindus or other groups do not feel compelled to leave their country," it added.