The recent incident of abduction, forcible marriage and religious conversion of a Sikh girl of Nankana Sahib is a telling example of what
minorities go through in Pakistan. Jagjit Kaur daughter of the Granthi of Nankana Sahib Gurdwara, the birthplace of Shri Guru Nanak Dev, in Pakistan, was allegedly abducted and forcibly converted to Islam after her marriage to a Muslim man. Even though India’s
Ministry of External Affairs released a statement raising concerns against the case of Jagjit Kaur being abducted and forcefully converted, the girl has still not returned home, despite the guarantee given by Pakistan’s Punjab Governor Chaudhry Sarwar.
In Pakistan, many such incidents are regularly reported where Hindu, Sikh and Christian girls are forcibly converted to Islam and married to Muslim men.
Many Cases Go Unreported
According to Pakistan’s own human rights commission, from January 2004 to May 2018,
there were 7,430 cases of such abductions of Sindhi girls in Pakistan. The actual number is estimated to be much higher as most of the cases go unreported. This appears to be a systematic, organized trend and it needs to be seen in the broader context
of the coercion of vulnerable girls and young women from communities that are already marginalized by their faith, class and socioeconomic status. The ugly reality of forced conversions is that they are not seen as a crime, much less as a problem that should
concern the government of Pakistan. Due to deficiencies in policing and the complexity of the crime, the precise number who are abducted, forcibly converted and raped is difficult to ascertain. Minorities often do not receive the protection required from state institutions
and lack access to justice. In most cases, the victim is abducted and is then subjugated to sustained emotional and physical abuse often involving threats of violence towards their loved ones.
Hindu Girls Living In Fear
Case after case involving Hindu girls converting
to Islam have emerged in courts in Pakistan’s Sindh province, home to a majority of the country’s Hindus. The allegedly forcible nature of the conversions, the almost identical pattern of the cases, and the targeting of minor girls have
deeply unsettled the Hindu population. This sense of alarm feeds into a broader reckoning: 70 years after the partition of the Indian subcontinent, some Hindus are reassessing their place in Pakistan. Today Pakistan’s identity is that of an Islamic nationalist
state where hard-line religious groups are a formidable force, and religious minorities have little voice in society. As influential Islamic shrines and religious groups work to convert people to Islam, some Hindus are leaving their villages and moving to
cities in Pakistan, or leaving Pakistan altogether and moving to India.
Ironically, these incidents were on a rampant high in Pakistan
when their Prime Minister Imran Khan was in Beijing to seek China’s support for allegations of the so-called widespread atrocities in Kashmir on global platforms ever since the region’s special status was scrapped on August 5. A nation that has
so much to look into affords to send its Prime Minister on a wild goose chase, who is willingly wasting his time begging for attention on issues that do not concern them at all, as it has already been clarified internationally that Abrogation of Article 370
in Jammu and Kashmir is entirely an internal matter for India.