Hinduism in Pakistan

Hinduism is the second largest religion in Pakistan after Islam.[3] According to the 2017 Pakistan Census, Hindus made up 2.14% of Pakistan's population,[4][5] although the Pakistan Hindu Council claims there are around 8 million Hindus currently living in Pakistan, comprising 4% of the Pakistani population.[6][5] According to Pew Research Center's estimate, Pakistan has the fifth-largest Hindu population in the world in 2010 and by 2050 may rise to the fourth-largest Hindu population in the world.[7][8] However, forced as well as some enticed religious conversions have been bringing down the number of Hindus in Pakistan by up to 1,000 per year.[9][10][11][12]

Pakistani Hindus (पाकिस्तानी हिंदू)
Hawan at Hinglaj Mata (Rani ki Mandir) During Yanglaj Yatra 2017 Photo by Aliraza Khatri.jpg
Gorakhnath Temple in Peshawar Old City, Pakistan.jpg
Hawan at Shri Hinglaj Mata temple during Hinglaj Yatra (upper), while Goraknath Temple in Peshawar (below)
Total population
4.4 million, (2.14% of the Pakistan's population) (2017 Census)[1][2] Increase
Regions with significant populations
Sindh93% (of total population)
Punjab5%
Balochistan2%
Religions
Hinduism of all sects
Scriptures
Rig Veda and Bhagavad Gita
Languages
Sanskrit (holy)
Sindhi, Seraiki, Marwari, Gujarati and others, (including Aer, Dhatki, Gera, Goaria, Gurgula, Jandavra, Kabutra, Koli, Loarki,Sansi and Vaghri)

Before partition, according to the 1941 census, Hindus constituted 14% of the population in West Pakistan (now Pakistan) and 28% of the population in East Pakistan (now Bangladesh).[13][14][15] After Pakistan gained independence from the British Raj, 4.7 million of West Pakistan's Hindus and Sikhs moved to India as refugees.[16] And in the first census afterwards in 1951, Hindus made up 1.6% of the total population of West Pakistan (now Pakistan), and 22% of East Pakistan (now Bangladesh).[17][18][19]

Hindus in Pakistan are primarily concentrated in Sindh, where the majority of Hindu enclaves are found in Pakistan.[20] They speak a variety of languages such as Sindhi, Seraiki, Aer, Dhatki, Gera, Goaria, Gurgula, Jandavra, Kabutra, Koli, Loarki, Marwari, Sansi, Vaghri,[21] and Gujarati.[22] Although small in numbers, Hindus in Pakistan are not less complex than in other parts of the world. Many Hindus, especially in the rural areas, follow the teachings of local Sufi pīrs (Urdu: spiritual guide) or adhere to the 14th-century saint Ramdevji, whose main temple Shri Ramdev Pir temple is located in Tando Allahyar. A growing number of urban Hindu youth in Pakistan associate themselves with ISKCON society.[23] Other communities worship manifold "Mother Goddesses" as their clan or family patrons.[28] A different branch, the Nanakpanth, follows the teachings of the Guru Granth Sahib, also known as the holy book of the Sikhs. This diversity, especially in rural Sindh, often thwarts classical definitions between Hinduism, Sikhism and Islam.[29]

Though the Constitution of Pakistan provides equals rights to all citizens and shall not discriminate anyone on the basis of caste, creed or religion, though Islam remains State religion giving few privileges to Muslims, more than Hindus and other religious minorities.[30] There have been numerous cases of violence and discrimination against Hindus, along with Christians, Ahmadiyya and other minorities.[31] There have also been cases of violence and ill-treatment of Hindus, due to strict Blasphemy laws.[32]

One of the most important places of worship for Hindus in Pakistan is the shrine of Shri Hinglaj Mata temple in Balochistan.[33][34] The annual Hinglaj Yatra is the largest Hindu pilgrimage in Pakistan.[35]

HistoryEdit

Before Pakistan creationEdit

 
Hinglaj Mata Mandir Cave entrance

Origins in PakistanEdit

 
Extent of the Indus Valley Civilization sites.

The Rig Veda, the oldest Hindu text, is believed to have been composed in the Punjab region of modern-day Pakistan (and India) on the banks of the Indus River around 1500 BCE.[36] Various archaeological finds such as the Swastika symbol, Yogic postures, what appears to be like a "Pasupati" image that was found on the seals of the people of Mohenjo-daro, in Sindh, point to early influences that may have shaped Hinduism.[37] The religious beliefs and folklore of the Indus valley people have become a major part of the Hindu faith that evolved in this part of the South Asia.[38]

The Sindh kingdom and its rulers play an important role in the Indian epic story of the Mahabharata. In addition, a Hindu legend states that the Pakistani city of Lahore was first founded by Lava, while Kasur was founded by his twin Kusha, both of whom were the sons of Lord Rama of the Ramayana. The Gandhara kingdom of the northwest, and the legendary Gandhara people, are also a major part of Hindu literature such as the Ramayana and the Mahabharata. Many Pakistani city names (such as Peshawar and Multan) have Sanskrit roots.[39][40]

Pre-Islamic PakistanEdit

The Vedic period (1500–500 BCE) was characterised by an Indo-Aryan culture; during this period the Vedas, the oldest scriptures associated with Hinduism, were composed, and this culture later became well established in the region.[41] Multan was an important Hindu pilgrimage centre. The Vedic civilisation flourished in the ancient Gandhāran city of Takṣaśilā, now Taxila in the Punjab, which was founded around 1000 BCE.[42] Successive ancient empires and kingdoms ruled the region: the Persian Achaemenid Empire (around 519 BCE), Alexander's empire in 326 BCE and the Maurya Empire, founded by Chandragupta Maurya and extended by Ashoka the Great, until 185 BCE. The Indo-Greek Kingdom founded by Demetrius of Bactria (180–165 BCE) included Gandhara and Punjab and reached its greatest extent under Menander (165–150 BCE), prospering the Greco-Buddhist culture in the region.[43] Taxila had one of the earliest universities and centres of higher education in the world, which was established during the late Vedic period in 6th century BCE.[44] The school consisted of several monasteries without large dormitories or lecture halls where the religious instruction was provided on an individualistic basis. The ancient university was documented by the invading forces of Alexander the Great and was also recorded by Chinese pilgrims in the 4th or 5th century CE.[45]

At its zenith, the Rai Dynasty (489–632 CE) of Sindh ruled this region and the surrounding territories.[46] The Pala Dynasty was the last Buddhist empire, which, under Dharmapala and Devapala, stretched across South Asia from what is now Bangladesh through Northern India to Pakistan.

Islamic rule and era of Muslim ruleEdit

During IndependenceEdit

 
The Swaminarayan Temple in Karachi was a departure point for those migrating to India after independence.

At the time of Pakistan's creation the 'two nation theory' had been espoused. According to this theory the Hindu minority in Pakistan was to be given a fair deal in Pakistan in order to ensure the protection of the Muslim minority in India.[47][48] However, Khawaja Nazimuddin, the 2nd Prime Minister of Pakistan stated: "I do not agree that religion is a private affair of the individual nor do I agree that in an Islamic state every citizen has identical rights, no matter what his caste, creed or faith be".[49]

After the independence of Pakistan in 1947, over 4.7 million Hindus and Sikhs from West Pakistan left for India, and 6.5 million Muslims chose to migrate to Pakistan.[16] The reasons for this exodus were the heavily charged communal atmosphere in British Raj, deep distrust of each other, the brutality of violent mobs and the antagonism between the religious communities.[50] That over 1 million people lost their lives in the bloody violence of 1947 should attest to the fear and hate that filled the hearts of millions of Hindus, Muslims and Sikhs who left ancestral homes hastily after independence.[51]

DemographyEdit

Hindu population in Pakistan
YearPop.±%
1941 4,060,000—    
1951 438,100−89.2%
1961 600,320+37.0%
1981 1,276,116+112.6%
1990 1,723,251+35.0%
1998 2,443,614+41.8%
2017 4,444,437+81.9%
Hindus were separated as Hindu( jati) and Hindu Scheduled Castes from 1998 Census
Source: [52][53][4][54]

Hinduism (%) in Pakistan by decades[55][56][53][4]

Year Percent Increase
1931 15% -
1941 14%

-1%

1947 12.9%

-1.1%

1951 1.3%

-11.8%

1981 1.5%

+0.2%

1998 1.85%

+0.35%

2017 2.14%

+0.29%

Before partition, according to the 1941 census, Hindus constituted 14% of the population in West Pakistan (currently Pakistan) and 28% of the population in East Pakistan(currently Bangladesh).[57][58] In 1947, Hindus constituted 12.9% of Pakistan, which made Pakistan (including present day Bangladesh) the second-largest Hindu-population country after India.[59]After Pakistan gained independence from Britain on 14 August 1947, 4.7 million of the country's Hindus and Sikhs migrated to India.[16] In the 1951 census, West Pakistan (now Pakistan) had 1.3% Hindu population, while East Pakistan (now Bangladesh) had 22.05%.[60][61][62] After 1971, Bangladesh separated from Pakistan and the population of Hindus and other Non-Muslims declined in Pakistan as Bangladesh population was no longer part of the census conducted in Pakistan.[63] The 1998 census of Pakistan recorded 2,443,614 Hindus, which (includes 332,343 scheduled caste Hindus), which constitutes to 1.85 percentage of the total population of Pakistan.[53][3] and about 7.5% in the Sindh province.

In 1956, the government of Pakistan declared 32 castes and tribes, the majority of them Hindus, to be scheduled castes, including Kohlis, Meghawars, and Bheels.[64][65] The Pakistan Census separates the members of scheduled castes from Hindus and has assessed that they form 0.25% of the national population.[53][59] However, the actual population of Scheduled Caste Hindus is expected to be much higher, as the Scheduled Caste Hindus categorise themselves as Hindus in the census rather than as Scheduled Castes.[66]

As per the data from the Election Commission of Pakistan, as of 2018 there were a total of 1.77 million Hindu voters. Hindu voters were 49% of the total in Umerkot and 46% in Tharparkar.[67][68] According to estimates in religious minorities in Pakistan's elections, the Hindus have a population of 50,000 or more in 11 districts. All of these are in Sindh except the Rahim Yar Khan District in Punjab.[69]

Number of Hindus residing in Pakistan (2019-2020 est.)
Source/claimed by Ref. Population (%) Date
Claimed by Mangla Sharma, member provincial assembly (MPA) from Muttahida Quami Movement-Pakistan (MQM-P). [70] 10,000,000 (4.8%) 7th January, 2020
Claimed by Pakistan Hindu Council. [71] 8,000,000 (4%) 18th December, 2019
  • Note : This was just their claimed based on their estimation research and are not related to any Pakistani government census authority.

Hindu population by provinceEdit

The percent of population of Hindus (separating the scheduled castes from other Hindus) in the provinces in Pakistan, according to the 1998 census:[3][53]

Province Total Population Hindu (Jati) Scheduled Castes All Hindus Percentage of the total number of Hindus in Pakistan
  Sindh 30,439,893 1,980,534 6.51% 300,308 0.99% 2,280,842 7.49% 93.34%
  Balochistan 6,565,885 32,387 0.49% 6,759 0.10% 39,146 0.60% 1.60%
  Punjab 73,621,290 92,628 0.13% 23,782 0.03% 116,410 0.16% 4.76%
  Khyber Pakhtunkhwa 17,743,645 4,498 0.025% 592 0.003% 5,090 0.029% 0.21%
  Federally Administered Tribal Areas
(merged with Khyber Pakhtunkhwa in 2018)
3,176,331 1,046 0.03% 875 0.03% 1,921 0.06% 0.08%
  Islamabad Capital Territory 805,235 178 0.022% 27 0.003% 205 0.025% 0.008%
Pakistan (total) 132,352,279 2,111,271 1.60% 332,343 0.25% 2,443,614 1.85% 100.00%

Hindu population by districtEdit

All districts with a Hindu population greater than 2%, according to the 1998 census. In other districts the population of Hindus is less than 1%.

Administrative Unit District Percentage of Hindus
Sindh Umerkot 47.6%
Tharparkar 40.5%
Mirpurkhas 32.7%
Sanghar 20%
Badin 19.9%
Hyderabad 12%
Ghotki 6.7%
Jacobabad 3.5%
Sukkur 3%
Khairpur 2.9%
Nawabshah 2.8%
Thatta 2.8%
Dadu 2%
Punjab Rahim Yar Khan 2.3%

In other districts the population of Hindus is less than 1%.

Religious, social and political institutionsEdit

 
Hindu children at Mandir during prayer.

The Pakistan Hindu Panchayat, Pakistan Hindu Council and the Pakistani Hindu Welfare Association are the primary civic organizations that represent and organise Hindu communities on social, economic, religious and political issues in most of the country, with the exception of the Shiv Temple Society of Hazara, which especially represents community interests in the Hazara region of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, in addition to being the special guardians of the Shiva temple, at Chitti Gatti village, near Mansehra. The Pakistan Hindu Council runs 13 schools across Tharparkar[72] and also conducts mass wedding of poor Hindu couples.[73]

ISKCON also has a presence in Pakistan. It is involved in preaching and distributing Urdu translated Bhagavad Gita. It has a large following among the Scheduled Caste Hindus in Urban areas of Pakistan. There is a significant increase in the influence of Iskcon due to its rejection of caste system.[74]

There was a Ministry of Minority Affairs in the Government of Pakistan which looked after specific issues concerning Pakistani religious minorities. In 2011, the Government of Pakistan closed the Ministry of Minority Affairs.[75][76] And a new ministry Ministry for National Harmony was formed for the protection of the rights of the minorities in Pakistan.[77] But in 2013, the Ministry of National Harmony was merged with the Ministry of Religious Affairs despite opposition from the minorities.[78]

PoliticsEdit

The Constitution's Article 51(2A) provides 10 reserved seats for non-Muslims in the National Assembly, 23 reserved seats for non-Muslims in the four provincial assemblies under Article 106[79] and four seats for non-Muslims in the Senate of Pakistan.[69] Conventionally, Hindus were allotted 4 or 5 seats. The number of national Assembly seats were increased from 207 in 1997 to 332 in 2002. But the number of non-Muslim reserved seats were not increased from 10. Similarly, the number of seats in Provincial Assembly of Sindh and Punjab were increased from 100 to 159 and 240 to 363 respectively, but the non-Muslim reserved seats were not increased.[65] Although a bill for increasing minorities' seats was introduced by Ramesh Kumar Vankwani, it was not passed.[80] Political parties Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (F) party is against giving reserved seats for minorities.[81]

In 1980s Zia ul-Haq introduced a system under which non-Muslims could vote for only candidates of their own religion. Seats were reserved for minorities in the national and provincial assemblies. Government officials stated that the separate electorates system is a form of affirmative action designed to ensure minority representation, and that efforts are underway to achieve a consensus among religious minorities on this issue, but critics argued that under this system Muslim candidates no longer had any incentive to pay attention to the minorities. Hindu community leader Sudham Chand protested against the system but was murdered. In 1999, Pakistan abolished this system. Hindus and other minorities achieved a rare political victory in 2002 with the removal of separate electorates for Muslims and non-Muslims. The separate electorate system had marginalized non-Muslims by depriving them of adequate representation in the assemblies. The Pakistan Hindu Welfare Association was active by convening a national conference on the issue in December 2000. And in 2001, Hindus, Christians, and Ahmadis successfully conducted a partial boycott of the elections, culminating in the abolishment of the separate electorate system in 2002. This allowed religious minorities to vote for mainstream seats in the National and Provincial assemblies, rather than being confined to voting for only minority seats. Despite the victory, however, Hindus still remain largely disenfranchised.[82]

In 2006, Ratna Bhagwandas Chawla became the first Hindu woman elected to the Senate of Pakistan.[83] Although there is reservation of seats for women in Pakistan National Assembly, not a single seat was allotted for non-Muslim women till 2018. In 2018, Krishna Kumari Kohli, a Hindu woman became the first non-Muslim woman to win a women's reserved seat in Senate of Pakistan.[84]

In 2018, Pakistan general election Mahesh Kumar Malani became the first Hindu candidate who won a general seat in Pakistan National Assembly 2018. He won the seat from Tharparkar-II and thus became the first non-Muslim to win a general seat (non-reserved) in Pakistan national assembly.[85] In the Sindh provincial assembly election which took place along with the Pakistan National Assembly election 2018, Hari Ram Kishori Lal and Giyan Chand Essrani were elected from the Sindh provincial assembly seats. They became the first non-Muslims to win a general seat (non-reserved) in a provincial assembly election.[86]

Hindu communitiesEdit

Tamil HindusEdit

Some Tamil Hindu families migrated to Pakistan in the early 20th century, when Karachi was developed during the British Raj, and were later joined by Sri Lankan Tamils who arrived during the Sri Lankan Civil War. The Madrasi Para area is home to around 100 Tamil Hindu families. The Maripata Mariamman Temple, which has been demolished, was the biggest Tamil Hindu temple in Karachi.[87] The Drigh Road and Korangi also have a small Tamil Hindu population.[88]

Kalasha peopleEdit

The Kalasha people practice an ancient form of Hinduism mixed with animism.[89][90] They are considered as a separate ethnic religion people by the government of Pakistan.[91] They reside in the Chitral District of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province.[92]

NanakpanthiEdit

Nanakpanthi are Hindus who revere Guru Nanak, the founder of Sikhism along with Hindu gods. Today, a large fraction of Sindhi Hindus consider themselves Nanakpanthi.[93]

Valmiki HindusEdit

The Valmiki or Balmikis are Hindu worshippers of Valmiki, the author of The Ramayana. Most Valmiki Hindus converted to either Christianity or Islam after the partition. However, many of those who converted still worship Valmiki and celebrate Valmiki Jayanti.[94][95] The most important centre for worship of Valmikis in Pakistan is Valmiki Mandir in Lahore.[96] Most of the Balmikis (or Valmikis) belonged to the Schedule caste.[97]

Punjabi HindusEdit

There is a small population of Punjabi Hindus living in the Punjab province of Pakistan, most notably in Lahore where there are some 200 Hindu families.[98][99] Though most of the Punjabis were Hindu in the 1900's and many migrated to India after the partition of the India and Pakistan in 1947.[100] In the modern times most of the Punjabi Hindus are settled in United States, Germany, England, Cannada and Australia due to their mass migration (or diaspora).[101]

Community lifeEdit

 
Umarkot Shiv Mandir in Umarkot is famous for the three-day Shivarathri celebration, which is attended by around 250,000 people.[102]

According to a study, the majority of the scheduled caste Hindus (79%) in Pakistan have experienced discrimination. The discrimination is higher in Southern Punjab (86.5%) compared to the rest of the country. The study found that majority (91.5% ) of the respondents in Rahimyar Khan, Bahawalpur, Tharparkar and Umerkot districts believed that political parties are not giving importance to them. The study also found that the scheduled caste Hindu women are most vulnerable to sexual abuse by Muslim men and young girls are lured into matrimony or abducted and wed through forced conversions.[103][65]

In Balochistan province, Hindus are relatively more secure and face less religious persecution. The tribal chiefs in Balochistan, particularly the Jams of Lasbela and Bugti of Dera Bugti, consider non-Muslims like Hindus as members of their own extended family and allows religious freedom. They have never forced Hindus to convert. Also, in Balochistan Hindu places of worship are proportionate to their population. For example, between Uthal and Bela jurisdiction in Lasbela District, there are 18 temples for 5,000 Hindus living in the area, which is an indicator of religious freedom.[104] However, in Khuzdar District and Kalat District, Hindus face discrimination.[105]

In Peshawar, capital of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Hindus enjoy religious freedom and live peacefully alongside the Muslims. The city of Peshawar today is home to four Hindu tribes– the Balmiks, the Rajputs, the Heer Ratan Raths and the Bhai Joga Singh Gurdwara community. Since partition, the four tribes have lived in harmony with all religious communities including Muslims. However, there is the lack of upkeep of the dilapidated Hindu temples in the city. The local government always fails to assign caretakers and priests at temples.[106] But in other parts of Kyber Pakhtunkhwa like Buner, Swat and Aurakzai Agencies, Hindu and Sikh families, have been targeted by Taliban for failing to pay Jizya (religious tax) and due to this more than 150 Sikhs and Hindu families in Pakistan's have moved to Hasan Abdal and Rawalpindi in Punjab in 2009[107]

In central Punjab, Hindus are a small minority. After the partition, Hindus have been converting to Islam under pressure, particularly in Doda village near Sargodha. Due to the low population of Hindus in the Central Punjab, many of the Hindus have married Sikhs and vice versa. Intermarriages between the Hindus and Sikhs are very common there.[105]

The Indus river is a holy river to many Hindus, and the Government of Pakistan periodically allows small groups of Hindus from India to make pilgrimage and take part in festivities in Sindh[108] and Punjab.[109] Rich Pakistani Hindus go to India and release their loved ones' remains into the Ganges. Those who cannot afford the trip go to Churrio Jabal Durga Mata temple in Nagarparkar.[110]

EducationEdit

According to Pakistan’s National Council for Justice and Peace (NCJP) report the average literacy rate among Hindu (upper caste) is 34 percent, Hindu (scheduled castes) is 19 percent, compared to the national average of 46.56 percent.[111] According to a 2013 survey conducted by the Pakistan Hindu Seva Welfare Trust, the literacy rate among scheduled caste Hindus in Pakistan is just 16%. The survey noted that majority of the scheduled caste Hindu families don't send their girl children to schools due to the fear of forced conversion.[112]

Hindu marriage actsEdit

There are two laws governing Hindu marriages-Sindh Hindu Marriage act of 2016 ( applicable only in the Sindh province), Hindu marriage act of 2017 ( applicable in Islamabad Capital Territory, Balochistan, Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and Punjab provinces). However, there are no laws and amendments made to register a marriage between two Hindus- one from Sindh and another from a different Province( Islamabad Capital Territory, Balochistan, Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and Punjab).[113]

The Sindh Hindu Marriage Bill was passed by the Provincial Assembly of Sindh in February 2016. This was the first Hindu Marriage act in Pakistan.[114][115][116] It was amended in 2018 to include divorce rights, remarriage rights and financial security of the wife and children after divorce.[117]

At federal level,a Hindu Marriage Bill was proposed in 2016, which was unanimously approved by the National Assembly of Pakistan in 2016[118][119] and by the Senate of Pakistan in 2017.[120] In March 2017, the Pakistani President Mamnoon Hussain signed the Hindu Marriage Bill and thereby making it a law. Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif also mentioned that the marriage registrars will be established in areas where Hindus stay.[121]

However, many have criticised the Clause 12(iii) of the Hindu Marriage Bill which says that "a marriage will be annulled if any of the spouses converts to another religion". There are fears the clause would be misused for forced conversions of married women the same way young girls are being subjected to forced conversions.[115]

TemplesEdit

 
Ruins of Prahladpuri Temple, which is believed to be construed by Prahlada in honor of Narasimha[122]

The Communal violence of the 1940s and the subsequent persecutions have resulted in the destruction of many Hindu temples in Pakistan, although the Hindu community and the Government of Pakistan have preserved and protected many prominent ones. Some ancient Hindu temples in Pakistan draw devotees from across faiths including Muslims.[123]

According to a survey, there were 428 Hindu temples in Pakistan at the time of Partition and 408 of them were now turned into toy stores, restaurants, government offices and schools.[27] Among these 11 temples are in Sindh, four in Punjab, three in Balochistan and two in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. However, in November 2019, government of Pakistan started the restoration process for 400 Hindu temples in Pakistan. After restoration, the temples will be reopened to Hindus in Pakistan.[27]

The Pamwal Das Shiv Mandir, centuries-old historic temple in Baghdadi area of Lyari Town was illegally turned into a Muslim Pir and slaughterhouse for cows by Muslim clerics with the help of Baghdadi police after making series of attacks on Hindu families living in the area.[124][125][126]

The 135,000 acres of temple land is now controlled by the Evacuee Trust Property Board. The historic Kali Bari Hindu Temple has been rented out to a Muslim party in Dera Ismail Khan who converted the temple into a Hotel. The Holy Shiv Temple in Kohat has been converted into a government primary school. The Raam Kunde Complex of Temples at Saidpur village in Islamabad is now a picnic site. Another temple at Rawal Dam in Islamabad has been shut down and the Hindu community believes that the temple is going to dilapidate day by day without being handed over to them. In Punjab, a Hindu temple at Rawalpindi was destroyed and reconstructed to use as a community centre, while in Chakwal the Bhuwan temple complex is being used by the local Muslim community for commercial purposes.[127]

Reopened templesEdit

The Goraknath Temple which was closed in the 1947 was reopened in 2011 after a court ruling which ordered the Evacuee Trust Property Board to open it.[128] In 2019, the Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan said that his government will reclaim and restore 400 temples to Hindus.[129] Following this, the 1,000-Year-Old Shivala Teja Singh temple in Sialkot (which was closed for 72 years)[130] and a 100-year-old Hindu temple in Balochistan was reopened.[131]

Important pilgrimage centres in PakistanEdit

Temple destructionEdit

  • In 2006, a Hindu temple in Lahore was destroyed to pave the way for construction of a multi-storied commercial building. When reporters from Pakistan-based newspaper Dawn tried to cover the incident, they were accosted by the henchmen of the property developer, who denied that a Hindu temple existed at the site.[139] In January 2014, a policeman standing guard outside a Hindu temple at Peshawar was gunned down.[140] 25 March 2014 Express Tribune citing an All Pakistan Hindu Rights Movement (PHRM) survey said that 95% of all Hindu temples in Pakistan have been converted since 1990. Pakistanis attack Hindu temples if anything happens to any mosque in neighbouring India.[141]
  • In 2014, a Hindu temple and a dharmashala in Larkana district in Sindh was attacked by a crowd of Muslims.[142]
  • In 2019, three Hindu temples were vandalised in Ghotki district in Sindh over blasphemy accusations.[143]
  • In 2019, a Hindu temple Pakistan's southern Sindh province was vandalism by miscreants and they set fire to holy books and idols inside the temple.[144]
  • In January 2020, a Hindu temple in Chachro, Tharparkar district in Sindh was vandalised by miscreants, who desecrated the idols and set fire to holy scriptures.[145]
  • In December 2020, a Hindu temple in Teri village of Karak district was attacked and vandalised.[146]

ConversionsEdit

Each year, 1000 Pakistani girls of minority religions, Hindus in particular, are forcibly converted to Islam. The girls are usually kidnapped by complicit acquaintances and relatives or men looking for brides. Sometimes they are taken by powerful landlords as payment for outstanding debts by their farmhand parents, and the authorities often look the other way. [147] In one case, a landlord abducted a Hindu daughter from a farm worker and falsely claimed the teen was compensation for a 1,000$ debt that the family owed him. [148] According to the Pakistan Hindu Council, forced conversions remain the foremost reason for the declining population of Hindus in Pakistan. Religious institutions and persons like Abdul Haq (Mitthu Mian) politician and caretaker of Bharachundi Sharif Dargah in Ghotki district and Pir Ayub Jan Sirhindi, the caretaker of Dargah pir sarhandi in Umerkot District support forced conversions and are known to have support and protection of ruling political parties of Sindh.[149][150][151] According to the National Commission of Justice and Peace and the Pakistan Hindu Council (PHC) around 1000 non-Muslim minority women are converted to Islam and then forcibly married off. This practice is being reported increasingly in the districts of Tharparkar, Umerkot and Mirpur Khas in Sindh.[150] According to the Amarnath Motumal, the vice chairperson of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, every month, an estimated 20 or more Hindu girls are abducted and converted, although exact figures are impossible to gather.[152] In 2014 alone, 265 legal cases of forced conversion were reported mostly involving Hindu girls.[153]

In November 2016, a bill against forced conversion was passed unanimously by the Sindh Provisional Assembly. However, the bill failed to make it into law as the Governor returned the bill. The Bill was effectively blocked by the Islamist groups and parties like the Council of Islamic Ideology and Jamaat-e-Islami.[154]

In 2019, a bill against forced conversion was proposed by Hindu politicians in the Sindh assembly, but was turned down by the ruling Pakistan Peoples Party lawmakers.[155]

There are also Irish Christian missionaries and Ahmadiyya missionaries operating in the Thar region. The Christian and Ahmadi missionaries offer impoverished Hindus schools, health clinics etc. as an inducement for those who convert.[20] Korean Christian missionaries are also very active in Sindh, who have built schools from Badin to Tharparkar. Korean Christian missionaries have allegedly converted more than 1,000 Hindu families in 2012 alone. According to the Sono Kangharani, member of Pakistan Dalit Network, the Korean missionaries have been active in the area from 2011 and these missionaries don't focus on individuals but they convert entire villages. According to him about 200 to 250 Hindu villages were converted in the last two and a half years between 2014 and 2016.[149]

Decline and persecutionEdit

DeclineEdit

 
Manora Island Beach, with Varun Dev Mandir visible in the top right corner, Manora Beach, Karachi, Pakistan

There has been historical decline of Hinduism, Buddhism and Sikhism in the areas of Pakistan. This happened for a variety of reasons even as these religions have continued to flourish beyond the eastern frontiers of Pakistan. The region became predominantly Muslim during the rule of Delhi Sultanate and later Mughal Empire. In general, religious conversion was a gradual process, some converted to Islam to gain tax relief, land grant, marriage partners, social and economic advancement,[156] or freedom from slavery and some by force.[157] The predominantly Muslim population supported Muslim League and Partition of India. After the independence of Pakistan in 1947, the minority Hindus and Sikhs migrated to India while the Muslims refugees from India migrated to Pakistan. Approximately 4.7 million Hindus and Sikhs moved to India while 6.5 million Muslims settled in Pakistan.

Some Hindus in Pakistan feel that they are treated as second-class citizens and many have continued to migrate to India.[158][159] According to the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan data, around 1,000 Hindu families fled to India in 2013.[160] In May 2014, a member of the ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), Dr Ramesh Kumar Vankwani, revealed in the National Assembly of Pakistan that around 5,000 Hindus are migrating from Pakistan to India every year.[161]

Those Pakistani Hindus who have migrated to India allege that Hindu girls are sexually harassed in Pakistani schools and their religious practices are mocked.[162] The Indian government is planning to issue Aadhaar cards and PAN cards to Pakistani Hindu refugees, and simplifying the process by which they can acquire Indian citizenship.[163]

Many Hindus are induced to convert to Islam for easily getting Watan Cards and National Identification Cards. These converts were also given land and money. For example, 428 poor Hindus in Matli were converted between 2009–11 by the Madrassa Baitul Islam, a Deobandi seminary in Matli, which pays off the debts of Hindus converting to Islam.[164] Another example is the conversion of 250 Hindus to Islam in Chohar Jamali area in Thatta.[165] Conversions are also carried out by Baba Deen Mohammad Shaikh mission which converted 108,000 people to Islam since 1989.[166]

DiscriminationEdit

Separate electorates for Hindus and Christians were established in 1985—a policy originally proposed by Islamist leader Abul A'la Maududi. Christian and Hindu leaders complained that they felt excluded from the county's political process, but the policy had strong support from Islamists.[167] Until 1999, when former military chief Pervez Musharaf overthrew Nawaz Sharif's government, non-Muslims had dual voting rights in the general elections that allowed them to not only vote for Muslim candidates on general seats, but also for their own non-Muslim candidates.[168]

The Muttahida Majlis-i-Amal (MMA), a coalition of Islamist political parties in Pakistan, calls for the increased Islamization of the government and society, specifically taking an anti-Hindu stance. The MMA leads the opposition in the national assembly, held a majority in the NWFP Provincial Assembly, and was part of the ruling coalition in Balochistan. However, some members of the MMA made efforts to eliminate their rhetoric against Hindus.[169]

In the aftermath of the Babri Masjid demolition, widespread violence erupted against Hindus. Mobs attacked scores of Hindu temples across Pakistan.[170][171] Shops owned by Hindus were also attacked in Sukkur, Sindh. Hindu homes and temples were also attacked in Quetta.[172][25]

The rise of Taliban insurgency in Pakistan has been an influential and increasing factor in the persecution of and non-Muslims in Pakistan[173][174][169] In July 2010, around 60 members of the minority Hindu community in Karachi were attacked and evicted from their homes following an incident of a Dalit Hindu youth drinking water from a tap near an Islamic Mosque.[175][176] Between 2011 and 2012, twenty three Hindus were kidnapped for ransom and 13 Hindus were killed as a part of targeted killings of non-Muslims.[149] In January 2014, a policeman standing guard outside a Hindu temple at Peshawar was gunned down.[177] Pakistan's Supreme Court has sought a report from the government on its efforts to ensure access for the minority Hindu community to temples – the Karachi bench of the apex court was hearing applications against the alleged denial of access to the members of the minority community.[178][179][180]

Pakistan Studies curriculum issuesEdit

 
A woman reciting the Bhagvad Gita at the Sadh Belo temple.

According to the Sustainable Development Policy Institute report, "Associated with the insistence on the Ideology of Pakistan has been an essential component of hate against India and the Hindus. For the upholders of the Ideology of Pakistan, the existence of Pakistan is defined only in relation to Hindus, and hence the Hindus have to be painted as negatively as possible".[181]

A 2005 report by the National Commission for Justice and Peace, a non-profit organization, found that Pakistan Studies textbooks in Pakistan have been used to articulate the hatred that Pakistani policy-makers have attempted to inculcate towards the Hindus. "From the government-issued textbooks, students are taught that Hindus are backward and superstitious", the report stated.[182][183][184][185]

In 1975, Islamiat or Islamic studies was made compulsory, resulting that a large number of minority students being forced to study Islamic Studies.[186] In 2015,Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government introduced Ethics as an alternative subject to Islamiat for non-Muslim schoolchildren in the province[187] followed by Sindh in 2016.[186]

Though there have been some cases of students forced to study as per Islamic curriculum.[188] It has been reported that students are taught hatred against the Hindus in Pakistan's school.[189][190]

Prominent Pakistani HindusEdit

Modern PakistanEdit

Pre-independenceEdit

See alsoEdit

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Further readingEdit

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