Forced conversion, as it has come to be seen, has become a hackneyed subject in Pakistan. In the ending days of March, two Hindu girls eloped with two Muslim boys and proclaimed Islam, of which Prime Minister Imran Khan, of Pakistan took notice on the ground of ‘hue and cry’ of Hindus and Muslims claiming the girls are forcibly converted, but in the event, Supreme Court of Pakistan declared them innocent, giving final decision that they have not acted under any coercion.
A few days ago, a new case of a mentally and physically immature, Hindu boy called Vijay Kumar, who believed to be 15 year old has adopted Islam, has come up in discussion and circulation. Abdul Haq, famously known as Mian Mitho, who is the party behind both the aforementioned cases, is a political and religious leader. More surprisingly, it is not for the first time he has converted the Hindu girls, but previously, through his good offices, many other girls such as Kiran Kumari, have turned to apostasy. Oblivious of whether the conversions are driven by pressure, greed, or any other motive, or by the apostates’ own whims and wishes, the common folks are hurling opprobrium on the conversion.
Every time I open up the social media websites, to surf on, for some entertainment what is left there is the posts lamenting ‘forced conversion’ deeming it a forbidden act in Islam and those involved in the activity of forced conversion of the boy and girls belonging to disadvantaged, Hindu community from Hinduism to Islam.
A widespread video in which it is easily to be witnessed that two girls namely Reena and Raveena, from Hindu community of Daharki, living in the humble milieu, accede to terms and conditions of Islamic set of beliefs, entering in the fold of Islam under the auspices of their newly-wedded husbands is still surfacing on the social media. Although there are many concerns raised by the masses against the debacle saying that the girls are below the age of puberty and are forcibly converted, the same girls reject the claims stating that there is nothing used as such of coercive actions; they have act of their own will, on their own.
Minutes after the video, about a fortnight ago, surfaced on the social media, an educated denizen––irrespective of whether he is Muslim, Christian or Hindu––disparages the act and consider this as the imposition of curbs on the religious freedom. Very soon afterwards a deluge of questions poured in disagreement with a hashtag of ‘stopforcedconversion’.
A few among those questions still being asked again and again are: why Muslims harbor a deep-seated mindset that the ticket to Heaven could only be gained by plunging the minority into the fold of Islam in preference to the religious and sacred practices; why only young girls––why not old women––of hardly eighteen years from Hinduism convert to Islam; why any non-Muslim girl converts to Islam in order to be someone’s wife, why not convert as being someone’s sister, someone’s mother and someone’s daughter; why any boy or girl under the age of eighteen is permitted to adopt the other religion when at the same course of time they are not allowed to be issued NIC Card, driving license and the certificate to get married, nor do they have any opportunity to get the job before the prescribed age.
However, there are many persons claiming that these conversions are not forcibly enforced, as there is neither proof nor any manifestation to that. They argue that when the girls themselves say they have proclaimed Islam without any pressure put on them, there remains no doubt about their apostasy. But, Joseph Francis, National Director of the Center for Legal Aid, Assistance and Settlement, a legal aid organization which focuses predominantly on the rights of the minority of Pakistan specifies that it is not easy to prove forced conversions and marriages. He says that forced conversion and marriage go hand in hand-a forced conversion driven by religious obligation taking cover of marriage and forced marriage driven by lust taking cover under forced conversion. In fact, the apostates are appeared to be under teenage, and too mentally immature to take sane decisions on their own.
It is like the situation in Pakistan has deteriorated and the prospect as such of the minority is being deprived of fundamental rights and preliminary freedom, is looming large. According to an annual report by the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, a considerable number of 1000 cases of only ‘forced conversion’ of Hindu and Christian girls was reported last year in just the province of Southern Sindh.
This position demonstrates the worst of the worst conditions, Pakistan is mired in, of the violence against the minority. Not to speak of other violence against their basic rights, the minority’s right to freedom of religion is at stake.
The minority in Pakistan is subject to abduction, sexual abuse, gang rape and much more, plus forced conversion. While under the Article 20 of the existing constitution, the state holds the responsibility to preserve and protect the right to religious freedom, and as said by Muhammad Ali Jinnah, the founder of Pakistan to people of Pakistan that they are free to go to their worship places and do their religious practices, the incumbent state remains oblivious of its duty and disappointing facts.
Being a part of Islam it is for us on the one hand the matter of utmost pride for a conversion of a mature girl from Hinduism to Islam with her own sublime will takes place, on the other it is equally the matter of absolute shame when that conversion is forcibly enacted and enforced on her. Because Islam castigates enforcing Islam on the minority. Nonetheless, there are many ill-minded outfits using a conservative, theology-centered approach, without actually grasping the insights into pure teachings of Islam.
Muslim Scholars who exert themselves to coerce the none Muslims enter the fold of Islam are desperately directed to stop this unbearable and ludicrous behaviour, and to act out of some sense of as how much of vital importance it is that Muslim never be questioned over its preservation and protection of minorities fundamental rights to freedom. And the government ought to beware them of strict actions according to the laws of the present constitution of Pakistan.