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Zardari’s sister against forced conversion of Hindu girls in Sindh

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Aisha Farooq
WVoN co-editor 

Dr Azra Fazl, a member of the Pakistan national assembly and sister of the Pakistan president, spoke out last week about Hindu girls being kidnapped and held against their will in Sindh madrassas.

Speaking to the Pakistan National Assembly, Fazl referred to the case of Faryal Shah – original name Rinkle Kumari – whose relatives believe she was forced to convert to Islam and marry a Muslim man earlier this month.

Her alleged capture led to major protests from the Hindu community. Members of the All Sindh Mahshoori Jamaat, the Pakistan Hindu Council, and the Minority Leaders Alliance, all demanded that she be returned to her parents.

Fazl told the Assembly that her brother, president Asif Ali Zardari, had received a letter from Californian Congressman Brad Sherman, urging him to take action.

To add to the confusion however, Faryal has since insisted that she converted to Islam of her own accord before marrying Naveed Shah.

Her public announcement has led to concerns over her safety and Sindh police have taken both her and another convert, Lata Kumari, into protective custody in Islamabad.

It has emerged, however, that two other Hindu girls had been abducted a few months previous with no knowledge of their whereabouts.

In the meantime, the Assembly’s Standing Committee on Human Rights directed Sindh police to begin registering the cases of vulnerable Hindu girls and to prioritize their recovery.

Dr Fazl, who is also a member of Pakistan’s People Party (PPP), warned that the court needed to assess the mistreatment of minority communities and to protect their rights.

She has received support from some parliamentarians including Nafeesa Shah, who called for new legislative measures to be taken to end forced conversions.

However, fellow PPP member, Pir Abdul Haq Mian Mithu, said that if the party was seen as responsible for introducing the legislation, it would greatly damage their chances in the next general election.

Pakistan was an ‘Islamic Republic’, he claimed, and since Faryal Shah had said she had converted of her own free will, a ban on conversion was redundant.

Pakistan is already considered to be one of 10 world countries “failing to sufficiently protect religious rights”.

If this legislation does pass, minority communities in Sindh and the rest of Pakistan will no longer feel subject to oppression by the ruling majority.

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