Islamabad: Acknowledging that Hindus face a
lot of challenges in Sindh, sister of President Asif Ali
Zardari said in Pakistan`s parliament on Thursday that Hindu girls
are being forcibly kept in madrassas in the province and are
forced to marry Muslims.
The remarks by Azra Fazal Pechuho, a lawmaker of the
ruling Pakistan People`s Party, came against the backdrop of
the Supreme Court`s recent directive to authorities to produce
three Hindu women who were allegedly kidnapped in Sindh.
Two of the women Rinkle Kumari and Lata Kumari have
told magistrates they voluntarily converted.
Speaking in the National Assembly or lower house of
parliament on the issue of Rinkle Kumari, Pechuho said Hindus
faced a lot of challenges in Sindh.
She stressed the need for laws to protect the rights of
minority communities and to end forced conversions.
Nafeesa Shah, another lawmaker from Sindh, endorsed
Pechuho`s stand and said parliament should introduce
legislation on forced conversions.
Media reports had said that non-Muslims were being forced
to accept Islam, she said.
"Protection of the minorities should be ensured as
enshrined in the Constitution," Shah said.
Minority parliamentarians, including Lal Chand and Mahesh
Kumar, too expressed concerns at the kidnapping and forced
conversion of Hindu women.
They said it was the right of every person to follow any
religion but nobody can be forced to convert, they said.
In his statement, Minister of State for Interfaith Harmony
Akram Masih Gill, a Christian, said the government has taken
several steps to empower minorities.
The steps included a five per cent quota in government
jobs and declaration of August 11 as Minorities Day, he said.
PML-N lawmaker Araish Kumar raised the issue of minorities
being forced to attend classes on Islamic studies.
"Our students are being forced to study Islamiat in
government schools...If they refuse to study Islamic studies,
they are struck off by the school administration," he
The remarks by the lawmakers came at a time when a report
said almost three-quarters of women from Pakistan`s minority
communities have faced sexual harassment while 43 per cent
complained of religious discrimination at workplaces,
educational institutions and neighborhoods.
The report, prepared by the National Commission for
Justice and Peace, states that about 74 per cent of the women
faced sexual harassment.