Hindus in Pakistan – A People Without a Voice
By Jai Rustgi
Lahore, Pakistan (CHAKRA) - Not only are Pakistani Hindus a people without a voice but also a people without an identity or existence to the outside world. Most people are not even aware of the fact that about 2.5 million Hindus (about 2% of the total population according to the last census but this number is decreasing rapidly due to fear and is soon expected to be less than 1% ) exist in the Muslim majority Pakistan. The dwindling numbers of Pakistani Hindus are the result of a quiet and steady cultural genocide in a state that has little ’Separation of Church and State’ .
Just before the end of colonial rule and independence in 1947, the land, which is now Pakistan comprised of about 26% Hindus out of its total population. However, after the partition of India, the largest forced migration in human history resulted, during which large scale massacres took place. Unfortunately, the 26% had dropped down to only 15% Hindus in Pakistan.
With such a high death toll and even greater rate of forced resettlements, many Hindus still chose to remain in their ancestral homeland and were promised protection by the Pakistani government. Needless to say, the Hindu population of Pakistan, got no such protection, but instead were subject to persecution and had to live a daily life in fear—something they live with even to this very day.
The constitution and legal system created for Pakistan, openly discriminated against Hindus with a high level of crime and harassment against them. Moreover, periods of tension between India and Pakistan were the worst times for Hindus in Pakistan, during which large numbers were killed and expelled by the Pakistani people, who were supported by the government. Furthermore, in 1965 a law (The Enemy Property Act) was passed, which openly legitimized the confiscation of the property of Hindus whether it was their homes or temples that were destroyed. This also resulted in a great drop of the Hindu population.
During 1970 and 1971, a huge undocumented number of Hindus were massacred by the Pakistani army in which the estimated death toll was up to 3 million. However, an actual study has never been done to determine the casualty figures. In addition, during this time, millions of Hindu women were raped and killed. It was not only one of the largest but also one the most ignored massacres in human history.
In 1977, Islamic Law was introduced by General Zia ul-Haq, who led a military coup in Pakistan. This further excluded the Hindu minority in Pakistan creating an arena of open discrimination and hatred against people in their ancestral homes.
According to the facts of history, one would assume that there no longer remains a Hindu population in Pakistan. Surprisingly, Hindus still exist in Pakistan, most of whom reside in the province of Sindh. The Hindus of Pakistan, still today are threatened by constant discrimination and fear of the Pakistani people and their government. Their security, property and lives are at risk on a day to day basis. Hindus in Pakistan are forced to live in a state in which they cannot openly identify themselves as Hindus. Their low profile existence, not only affects their self-identity but also, results in a misrepresentation of the number of actual Hindus in Pakistan, hence there is no exact percentage that is completely accurate. They have become a people without a true identity. Without an identity there exists no real voice. Hindus in Pakistan are a people without a voice. Unfortunately, human rights groups around the world and the international community takes no interest in helping these Hindus without a say. Due to this, the Hindus of Pakistan remain a forgotten people for whom no help is available to voice their views and fears.
If the outside community does not raise awareness and concern for the Hindus of Pakistan, they will remain a voiceless people and eventually cease to exist within the Pakistani population. We must come together and help these Hindus without a voice.