`Pak authorities failed to allay minority concerns

Pakistan`s leading human rights organisation has expressed "alarm and outrage at the continued exodus of religious minorities".

Updated: Aug 11, 2012, 12:56 PM IST

Lahore: Pakistan`s leading human rights organisation has expressed "alarm and outrage at the continued exodus of religious minorities" and said that authorities had consistently failed to allay the concerns of these communities despite repeated reminders from civil society.

The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan said in a statement that reports of Pakistani Hindus migrating to India "have been coming from Sindh and Balochistan (provinces) fairly regularly".

Spokespersons for minorities have argued that vested interests are threatening and frightening non-Muslim citizens with a view to forcing them to migrate, the HRCP said.

"Some of these elements are said to be religious extremists while others have plans to grab the minorities` property. In any case, there is little doubt that the minorities have been driven to despair," the statement said.

The continued migration of religious minorities from Sindh and Balochistan is a "reflection of the state`s failure to save these citizens from violence, discrimination and disgusting excesses such as the forced conversion of young women", the HRCP said.

Referring to the recent conversion of a young Hindu man during the live telecast of a special show to mark the Islamic holy month of Ramzan, the HRCP said this was a "particularly reprehensible and indefensible manifestation of the attitude towards non-Muslims".

"HRCP desperately hopes that the government shares its distress in this respect and reiterates its call for the state to address, in consultation with the communities in question, the reasons forcing religious minorities to flee the country," the statement added.

The rights body also took notice of the "anger and panic" caused by reports this week that that several hundred Hindus from Sindh and Balochistan were migrating to India and said these feelings had "subsided somewhat after the disclosure that they were on a pilgrimage".

"Most of them said they would return to Pakistan while some said they might not," the statement said.

Pakistani authorities detained the Hindus at the Wagah land border for almost seven hours yesterday before allowing them to cross over to India after ascertaining that they were going on a pilgrimage.

The HRCP urged civil society groups and the media to "keep the spotlight firmly trained on the raw deal" the minority communities were getting.

"Ahead of the forthcoming elections, the political parties have an opportunity, through their manifestos, and more than that through their actions now, to articulate their vision for religious minorities in Pakistan," it added.