Baldev Kumar, an MLA from Pakistan who is currently living with his wife and two children in Khanna, in the Ludhiana district of Punjab, is seeking asylum in India. Fearing for his family and presenting the appalling tale of lack of rights for minorities in Pakistan, Kumar pointed out the inability of Pakistan’s government to give a safe environment to the Sikhs and Hindus in the country.
This comes after the recent forced conversion of a Sikh girl followed by a Hindu girl, and brings to light the dilapidated condition that minorities have been surviving in. In Baldev Kumar’s case, a minister from Pakistan’s Khyber Pakhtunkhwa belonging to the ruling party Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf, it clearly shows the condition of a former lawmaker, who according to him wasalso falsely penalized for the murder of Soran Singh, then special advisor to Chief Minister, and later acquitted by the anti-terrorism court in Buner in April 2018.
This is just one of the many cases that happen on a regular basis in the Naya Pakistan, which is globally being represented as a champion for minority rights. Projecting further, Pakistan has also been playing a part in apparently backing the referendum 2020 campaign for Khalistan, claiming to help Sikhs, a minority in India, gain their rights. However, a rather interesting statistic that speaks otherwise is the decrease of Sikh population in Pakistan from 40,000 to 8,000 in a time span of 16 years, 2002 – 2018.
With less than 5 per cent minorities in the country, and with their numbers constantly decreasing, there has been trauma all over. Another recent incident that showcased the fear of the minorities is the memorandum signed by the representatives of Pak’s Muslim, Hindu, Sikh, and Baha’i communities, asking for rights and protection for minorities and women living there. The Italian chapter of Aid to the Church in Need (ACN),a Catholic charity and foundation that helps persecuted Christians worldwide, and Catholic advocate Tabassum Yousaf, linked to the Community of Sant’Egidio peace group were the initiators of this campaign.
The incidents involving Hindus, Sikhs and Christians are usually highlighted, but what is usually left untouched are the events that involve Shias, especially the Hazaras, who have been killed in numbers unimaginable.While it is difficult to keep a track of every activity being done, the lack also arises in forming stringent laws to bring down such incidents and arrest the culprits.
The United States of America, earlier had Pakistan on the watch list for human rights violation, but with increasing cases of minorities raising their voice for equal rights, it has slipped to US State Department list of countries of particular concern for engaging in or tolerating “systematic, ongoing and egregious” religious freedom violations. The emigration of many people, belonging to both minority and majority communities indicates the bend of people towards finding a better future where they are given all the rights denied to them in their homeland.
As for Pakistan’s response towards these incidents, even though MLA Baldev Kumar was acquitted by the court, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Information Minister Shaukat Ali Yousafzaisaid that he is a criminal and still considered as the culprit by the family members of the deceased and “He is not a part of the PTI.”