Pakistan’s war on minorities continues

Islamabad plans townships to make ethnic Baloch and Sindhis a minority in their own land

GN Bureau | June 24, 2017


#UNHCR   #Gwadar port   #Hindu   #Sindh   #Baloch   #Islamabad   #Pakistan   #Nepal   #army  
Zulfiqar Shah
Zulfiqar Shah

The Baloch Regiment of Pakistan Army doesn’t have ethnic Baloch and the Sindh Regiment is with no Sindhis; this is the way Pakistan treats its religious, ethnic and linguistic minorities. This was revealed by Zulfiqar Shah, a Sindhi human rights campaigner who has been forced out of his country for his activism, at a conference on the condition of minorities in the neighbouring country.

According to Shah, the presence of Sindhis and Baloch in the two regiments of Pakistan army named after the ethnic groups is less than 1 percent.
 
Shah’s Institute for Social Movements was forcibly closed by the government and he had to take refuge first in Nepal and now in India. 
Speaking at the conference of human rights of minorities in Pakistan by the Asia-Eurasia Human rights forum on Friday in Delhi, Shah said ethnic and religious minorities were facing the worst persecution in Pakistan. He said in Sindh, which has a sizeable population of Hindus (35% at the time of partition), the government was unleashing systematic persecution of the community.
 
Islamabad was also trying to make massive demographic changes in both Balochistan and Sindh to make the ethnic Baloch and Sindhis a minority in their own land. For example, he said, in Sindh, the government had launched two ambitious township projects where outsiders – mainly Punjabis would be settled. Similarly, another city at Gwadar port in Balochistan will be filled with settlers from Punjab, making the Baloch a minority.    
 
Shah was forced to flee from Pakistan and take shelter with the UNHCR in Nepal after his institute was closed down and he felt the threat to his life. Even during his stay in Nepal, he said, the ISI tried to poison him and then he fled to India. He has been living in Delhi for four years and campaigns for the rights of minorities in Pakistan.
 
He told the gathering that the discrimination against the non-Punjabi speaking people is sanctioned by the government. “There are no jobs for Sindhis and even their language is not recognised.” He gave figures to show how Pakistan’s Punjab province used the bulk of the Sui gas (cooking gas) which originates in Sindh, while the local are deprived of it.
 
Ahmadiyas, who have been declared heretic by the Pakistani government, are not allowed to practice their religion. They are even barred from decorating their homes on Eid-ul-Milad-ul-Nabi (Prophet Mohammad’s birthday). He said Christians were being persecuted under the blasphemy law, while Hindus were facing pressure for conversion to Islam.
 

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