Sham of human chain in Pakistan to show solidarity with Hindus

Social media is abuzz with the report of a human chain formed by Pakistan’s National Student’s Federation (NSF) on 6th March (Holi festival) for Hindus who are celebrating Holi at Swami Narayan Temple in Karachi to protect, and show solidarity with them. But what is most amusing is that more than the Pakistani citizens, it is the Indians who seem to have gotten on a new high after reading this news.

Cosmetic gestures, rarely bear tangible fruits.

Cosmetic gestures, rarely bear tangible fruits.

The Indian media is busy with the story of this greatness that has been shown by the majority towards the minuscule minority. Famous Hindi actor Akshay Kumar put this news but what people do not know is that on the eve of Holi, extremists in Pakistan tried to burn down a Hindu temple at Tando Muhammad Khan.

Hindi film actor Akshay Kumar expresses happiness at the news.

Hindi film actor Akshay Kumar expresses happiness at the news.

The extremists entered the Shiv Bhola Hanuman temple at Soomar Street and desecrated Hindu scriptures and pictures of Hindu deities.

Hindu temple desecrated on the eve of Holi

Hindu temple desecrated on the eve of Holi

Surprising? Here is more; just last year (year 2014) at the time of Holi, 3 Hindus were charged under draconian blasphemy law of Pakistan at Nao Dambalo, all because they were playing with colors. In this year and this month, just a few days back, Pakistani police arrested boys at Sindh University, and the reason given out was that a Hindu festival like Holi cannot be celebrated openly. Forget the festivals and temples for a minute as they may not interest everyone; let us talk about basic human rights which all minorities must enjoy. At present the situation of a Hindu woman in Pakistan is extremely shabby. Such is the situation that the Baghree Hindu community is asking Indian government to allow them refuge in India. Close to 400-500 families wish to come to India as soon as is possible. Why? Because Hindu girls, of any age, are being abducted openly and no one does anything. One of the daughter of the Baghree community, a married woman named Chandervati along with her 2-year old daughter, was abducted by armed gunmen and forced-converted at Amrot Shareef, married to a criminal, and later shoved into prostitution. But Pakistani establishment, instead of helping the victim arrested her father, her mother, and six other family members of the victim’s family because the ‘abductor-cum-husband’ claims that her family kidnapped her to take her away from him.

Chandervati, forced- conversion victim, from Hindu Baghree community. Baghree community wants refuge in India.

Chandervati, forced- conversion victim, from Hindu Baghree community. Baghree community wants refuge in India.

Most girls like her are trafficked out or just become sex slave to be passed on from one man to another. Prima facie most of these girls are under 18, surprising indeed because marriage of young female kids should be punished as pedophilia but at this everyone in Pakistan who can make a difference is quiet. Names of few of the forced conversion victims are Rinkle Kumari, Jeevani Baghri,  Anjali Meghwar and thousands of others. So grave is the situation that a report by Movement for Solidarity and Peace in Pakistan says that up to 1000 women are shoved into forced marriages every year in Pakistan; 700 of these women are Christian and 300 are Hindu. There is no other reason to target these women except that they happen to be from oppressed minorities alone.

If that comes as a surprise to you, then also read how a Jew activist, Fishel Benkhald was beaten up by a Muslim mob when he questioned the apartheid-like situation that exists for minorities in Pakistan.

Fishel Benkhald after being attacked

Fishel Benkhald after attack

When such is the state of Hindus of Pakistan then how can anyone think that this gesture is anything but fake? The declining and fleeing Hindu population of Pakistan rarely ever becomes any news for anyone, but a cosmetic and a shallow gesture is so widely preached around that it washes away carefully labored efforts of Hindus and other minorities of Pakistan to sensitize the world about their sad state. Survival of minorities in Pakistan is the only way to stop radicalization in South Asia and if anyone has been following news about Yezidis, then it is pretty well-known as to why they are being targeted. They have been branded as ‘Devil Worshipers’ because they worship stone idols.

Stone worshipers=Devil worshiper=Fit to convert, rape and kill

Stone worshipers=Devil worshiper=Fit to convert, rape and kill

If Pakistanis tolerate deity worshiping Hindus, then it is likely that it will remain an egalitarian state and radicalization will wither out if not then a Taliban takeover is imminent. But to stop such a situation the Pakistani society will have to rise above cosmetic gestures because these actions help neither the terrified Hindu community nor their country. Also for Indians, just like everyone is praising this gesture, please do pay attention to minorities of Pakistan as well because their cries are going unheard and their survival is important if the idea of India has to survive.

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Why inviting SAARC leaders is a great move by Modi

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Narendra Modi’s swearing-in ceremony would be remembered for long for the masterstroke by BJP even when it was not officially in the dock. Modi’s invitation to SAARC (South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation) and Mauritius would be cherished for the one of the first honest attempts by India to bridge the chasm that has marred this region for long. It is an important move by the PM-designate because a stable and prosperous South Asia would not have winced at the departure of US troops from Afghanistan, as it is currently doing now, and nor would it have held itself hostage to the problems of the past that seem to rub on each and every person coming from this area. But unfortunately, instead of seeing this move as a way to build bridges, people are busy trivializing and demonizing some South Asian countries particularly Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and even Maldives.

Let’s look at some of them below:

 While it is understandable that Pakistan-India relations are not ‘rosy,’ yet, shutting doors on diplomatic channels is the last thing that India must do. Yes, we have Kashmir issue that needs to be resolved, Hindu massacre and forced conversions (Rinkle Kumari and Pooja Gupta are just some of them) that is going on there needs to stop, and so does the export of terrorism to India, but since neither party wants a full-fledged war hence, coming on the diplomatic channels is the best way forward. In any case, it is not bilateral talks; just normal courtesy that will put India’s stamp on South Asia. It also goes to the credit of Narendra Modi that he showed resolve in reviving SAARC and the same could be said of PM Nawaz Sharif for not letting his soon to-be-Indian counterpart down despite domestic pressures from terrorists like Hafiz Saeed who hold much sway on the domestic politics in his home state Punjab. By taking Modi’s hand in friendship, Sharif has shown his resolve against ISI, Army and terrorists combine, and the release of 151 Indian fishermen should be seen in a positive light.

Bangladesh is also in the news for the wrong reasons. The rapes, land grabbing cases, destruction of the temples, abductions and murders of its Hindu citizens has started an exodus of Hindus who sneak out of the country and crossover to India for a safer life. While their case is just, yet India needs to ensure that Hindus get equal rights in their homeland. Even Muslims citizenry is crossing over due to rise of fundamentalist forces and uncontrollable poverty; of course they do not face any religious persecution and hence, could be guided back to Bangladesh humanely. This meeting thus should be seen as the opening of a new channel for communication in which an assertive India should demand rights for Bangladeshi Hindus.

 Similar is the case of Sri Lanka and by inviting President Rajapaksa, Modi has started a raging political storm in Tamil Nadu that refuses to subside. Tamil leaders feel betrayed, but their criticism should reflect not shrillness but quality response because at this moment they indeed are on the wrong footing. First, they were busy deriding and lampooning Sri Lankan President over Tamil fishermen who were languishing in the custody, but, matching Modi step-to-step Rajapaksa outwitted them by ordering the release of ‘ALL’ detained Indian fishermen clearly underlining his desire to work on issues with India. What is most important is that, by inviting him to India, Modi has de-freezed the communication channels that could later be employed to bring about justice for Tamil Hindus as well. It is extremely important to not act like big-brother and instead use soft diplomacy to bring on justice, which has to be the primary goal in all respects but the mode should be the diplomacy of handshakes.

Even Afghanistan is already anxious due to ongoing polls and also because of withdrawal of US and allied troops. While Afghans do see India as a brotherly country that offered them material help and hope after the fall of the Taliban, yet India should avoid getting embroiled in the internal affairs by sending military help or selling arms. Saudi Arabia-Pakistan-Taliban nexus is getting stronger and sooner or later situation may turn alarming hence, it is better to offer all assistance to Afghans but from a distance. Also, aspirations of Pashtoons for their separate homeland should not be snubbed by India; it is not India’s job to police around after all, and this meeting, in an apolitical environment could trigger some major developments as well.

The last is the curious case of Maldives, which critics want India to snub because of the totalitarian regime of President Abdulla Yameen, clearly forgetting that it was the dumping of GMR which had become a thorn in the flesh of Indo-Maldives relations. The unfortunate events that led to a silent coup (in which India chose to look away and the world reluctantly followed, is perhaps the biggest blunder ever in India’s foreign policy) which finally put an end to ex-President Mohamed Nasheed’s first elected government should also be a cause of concern for India and rest of the world because of the strangulating hold of radical Islamists on this beautiful Island nation. (Read here: http://tinyurl.com/q93tmwj)

With the coming over of Abdulla Yameen, it would be curious to see how Modi tackles dictator Gayoom-backed-Abdulla, who has shown a protectionist attitude with regards to domestic policies.

Even Nepal and Bhutan had a thorny run with India for some time, but now the acrimony has diminished and we expect smoother ties with these countries.

SAARC has the potential to function in the best interest of all hence, its revival needs to be pursued seriously and India should work with the rest on a common minimum program that will help South Asia alleviate itself from the mess of extremism, poverty and shadow wars that seem to plague it until now. We have an example of EU to emulate and it would be interesting to see how Modi government achieves it. But for now, all eyes are on the upcoming coronation ceremony and on PM Modi’s next move.