Afghanistan, Pakistan & Bangladesh Articles

Hindus in Pakistan – a vanishing community

I was inspired to write this essay by a Pakistani journalist friend. Later, during a lecture tour in South East Asian countries, where Indian and Chinese origin minorities are also discriminated I noticed that the minorities are palpably anguished. The latest incidents of organized attacks by Bengali Muslims on hill dwelling Chakma tribals in Khagrachari areas firmed up my decision to chronicle a preliminary account of the conditions of the non-Muslim minorities in Pakistan. I had earlier written a piece on the plight of the Pakistani Christians. I have not touched upon the plight of the Shia and Ahmadiya (non-Muslim) communities in Pakistan, which require international attention. Not a single Indian Muslim religious seminary has so far condemned Pakistan for inhuman treatment of the Shia and Ahmadiya communities.

I am indebted to a member of the Pakistan Human Rights Commission and several young Pakistani writers who have boldly portrayed the pitiable condition of the minorities in Pakistan. Their voices are drowned in wilderness. The normal civil society members are also ashamed of these developments. However, I do not want to name them fearing visitations by the ISI goons.

Jinnah had said in his speech to the new nation created, called Pakistan, on August 17, 1947 to assure that his fiefdom, for which he fought relentlessly and even organized the Great Direct Action Pogrom of Calcutta in August 1946, to assure the national minorities, after 3 millions were killed in communal riots and several million escaped to the safety of Hindustan: “You are free; free to go to your temples, you are free to go to your mosques, or to any other place of worship in the State of Pakistan. You may belong to any religion or caste or creed-that has nothing to do with the business of the State…We are starting with this fundamental principles that we are all citizens and equal citizens of our State.”

People conversant with Jinnah’s rise as a rabid communal Muslim leader (Jaswant Singh’s white washing aside) know that Jinnah Kathiawadi lived by deceit and died in neglect (recall his Quetta visit, breakdown of his car on way to Karachi and apathetic attitude of the people in power). He was not even a practicing Muslim (a Shia), but pleaded fanatic Muslim causes. He never tried to rescue Muslim politics from the clutches of the maulanas. He was the person who boycotted the 1937 interim governments in the Central Legislative Assembly and Congress led provinces. He fabricated or organized the fabrication of charges against Congress’ ruthless suppression of the Muslims. One after another memorandum was submitted to the Governor General; all bundles of lies. The grand finale of Jinnah’s bunches of lies and prevarication included Calcutta pogrom in collaboration with Suhrawardy government, deceitful refusal to sign the Mountbatten Plan for partition, backing out from original agreement that Mountbatten would be the common Governor General for India and Pakistan and finally throwing a grand inaugural lunch on 16th August, a day of Ramadan (later shifted to dinner).

With such track record of prevarication, fabrication and falsehood Jinnah’s 17th August 1947 speech assuring the minority was then and even now treated as crocodile’s tears. If he were a democrat he would have not chosen the machetes to kill. He could not stop killing of the Hindu and other minorities in Pakistan even after he assumed the gaddi of the Governor General in true Hollywood style. Since Jinnah the Hindu minorities have continued to suffer in Pakistan and now they have become an endangered community. Those interested may read Jinnah of Pakistan by Stanley Wolpert and Mountbatten’s Report on the Last Viceroyalty, edited by Lionel Carter.

For which Pakistan Jinnah had struggled? His idea of Pakistan was limited to the vision of Dr. Iqbal-whole of Punjab, Sind, Balochistan, NWFP, FATA areas and Kashmir. He had no plan for Bengal and Assam and other Muslim majority areas in India. Later the Bangistan theory of Chaudhry Rahmat Ali propelled the Pakistan protagonists to amalgamate Bengal and Assam and create the eastern wing of Pakistan.

However, it must be said to the credit of Jinnah that in the absence of Dr. Iqbal and any other Muslim poet he could trust, he had commissioned a Hindu to write the original national anthem of Pakistan. India and Pakistan have another anomalous situation in common. Iqbal, the progenitor of Pakistan, had composed the national song Sare Jahan se Accha—. It is still used as one of the national songs. Jinnah, on the other hand had summoned Jagannath Azad, son of Lahore-based poet Tilok Chand Mahroom, just three days before the creation of Pakistan, to write the country’s first national anthem. It had stirred up a debate in that country. It is claimed that Jinnah sowed the seed of secularism by inviting Jagannath Azad to write the national anthem. However, Pakistan’s first national anthem composed by a Hindu was discarded by Pakistan in 1950. What a great disrespect to the father of the nation! Some leading Pakistani thinkers correctly said that Pakistan exists on the venom of anti-Hindu elixir.

Demographic distribution of Hindus in Pakistan (source Wikipedia)

At the time of Partition in 1947, the Hindu population of Pakistan was estimated at approximately a quarter of the total population. For example, the population of Karachi, Pakistan in 1947 was 450,000, of which 51% was Hindu, and 42% was Muslim. By 1951, Karachi’s population had increased to 1.137 million because of the influx of 600,000 Muslim refugees from India. In 1951, the Muslim population of Karachi was 96% and the Hindu population was 2%. In 1998, the Hindu population in all of Pakistan was 1.6%, and the most recent census would certainly be expected to demonstrate consistent dwindling demographic trends and further diminution of Hindu population.

 

 

 

Leave a Reply