Members of Hindu community display fireworks on Diwali at Valmiki Mandir near Nila Gumbad. – White Star
RAWALPINDI: Hindu citizens are demanding Jinnah’s Pakistan on the occasion of Diwali. From no official holiday on their religious festivals, Hindu marriage laws and social discrimination to life threatening security concerns, the Hindu community in Pakistan faces a myriad of problems.
“No holiday on Diwali is a minor issues. Our problems are much bigger,” said Akash Raj, a Hindu citizen.
He narrated that he got married many months ago but his wife is still waiting for her new Computerised National Identity Card.
“Why is Hindu marriage act still pending,” he demanded.
Raj criticised political leaders like Imran Khan and Bilawal Bhutto Zardari who are using Hindus for their own political gains. “If they actually care about minority rights, they should play a role in drafting legislation for us,” he said.
“Jogendra Nath Mandal was Pakistan’s first law minister and today we live in a state where we cannot even choose our own representatives,” said Rajiv Thakur, coordinator Pakistan Hindu Seva Welfare Trust.
“Religious minorities in Pakistan are facing problems because they do not have real community representatives in assemblies; we should be given the electoral right to choose our representatives in assemblies. Nobody raises our problems in assemblies, it feels like minority lawmakers are helpless too,” he added. Thakur demanded for the Pakistani school curriculum system to be reformed.
“When you promote hatred in schools, it results in creating hatred at a societal level. For a better Pakistan, followers of religions have an equal role to play,” he said.
Hindu Sikh Social Welfare Organisation President Jagmohan Arora demanded that the word ‘minority’ should not be used as it has negative implications. “We should be called ‘non-Muslim Pakistanis’,” he said.
“We all are Pakistanis and we all should have equal rights as the founder of Pakistan Quaid-i-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah declared in his August 11 speech. The society should not be divided on the basis of minority or majority,” Arora elaborated.
All Pakistan Hindu Rights Movement Vice Chairman Ashok Chand demanded for the government to allot funds to Hindus and other religious minorities at the district level for the celebration of their religious festivals.
“Gazetted holiday should be announced for the minorities on their religious festivals and foolproof security should be provided to the holy places,” he said.
Ashok Kumar thanked Imran Khan and Bilawal Bhutto Zardari for celebrating Diwali.
“Other political parties and especially the government should also follow in their footsteps and share in our happiness,” he added.
Published in Dawn, October 26th, 2014