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Resentment against Minorities Protection Bill unfounded

Pakistan Interfaith League (PIL) Chairman Sajid Ishaq, expressed serious concern over the resentment being shown by the Islamic religious-political parties and some Muslim religious scholars towards a legislation recently passed by the Sindh Assembly to prevent forced conversions, particularly of young girls from non-Muslim minority communities.

The Sindh Assembly on November 24, 2016 passed the ‘Sindh Criminal Law (Protection of Minorities) Bill, making forced conversion a crime under the law. The Bill was tabled by Nand Kumar Goklani of the Pakistan Muslim League-Functional (PML-F) last year (2015).

Sajid Ishaq said that the passage of the Bill from the Sindh Assembly was widely welcomed because it was a right step in the right direction.

“The demand for this legislation was being long pursued. It was basically aimed at preventing forced marriages of young girls, mainly from the Hindu community in Sindh province. The abduction of young Hindu girls and then their reappearance in the court of law with a Muslim husband, announcing that she has embraced Islam and wedded of her own free will, were common occurrences in some parts of the Sindh province as in other parts of the country too from time to time,” pointed out the PIL chairman.

“This also had a very strong adverse emotional, psychological and cultural impact on the Hindu community as well because out of fear of their abduction, the parents would wed their daughters off even before they have entered their teens,” Sajid Ishaq said.

He said that the adoption of the ‘Protection of Minorities Bill’ by the Sindh Assembly was widely welcomed by not only the Hindu community but all the minority communities throughout Pakistan.

“This Bill has effectively addressed some very serious grievances faced by the minority communities in Pakistan and everybody must support and appreciate it. Making it controversial would lead us to no good. I appeal to the highly respected and most honoured religious scholars and religious leaders to extend their support to this Bill because it would help foster harmony between the followers of different faiths,” the PIL chairman said.

“This is a great opportunity for all of us that the Sindh Assembly has provided. By supporting this and encouraging its implementation in letter and spirit will take away the fears of minority communities, build their confidence in the rule of law, dispel their fears from their Muslim brethren and will wipe away the misconceptions,” the PIL Chairman said.

He urged the Ulema, Mashaikh, religious scholars to look at the ‘Minorities Protection Bill’ from a positive angle and extend their support to promote inter-faith harmony in the country.

Source: The News

Byline: Mobarik A Virk

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