CLAAS hails law criminalizing the forced conversions recommending a term of five years of imprisonment. The law was passed by the Provincial Assembly of Sindh on November 24. The bill recommends a three year sentence to the facilitators of forceful religious conversions. This bill was purposed by PML-F’s (Pakistan Muslim League- functional) Nand Kumar Goklani. Non-Muslims including Christians and Hindus have been whining about the bane of forceful conversions.
In compliance with various organizations and NGO’s including Human Rights Commission, Aurat Foundation and Movement for Solidarity and Peace the data concerning victims of forced conversions is on the higher side. The data reveals that at each year least 1,000 girls fall a prey to forced conversions, these 1,000 include 700 Christian girls and 300 Hindu and other minorities’ girls.
While commenting about the newly introduced law, Nasir Saeed Director of CLAAS-UK warmly welcomed the anti-forced conversions law while saying that this law had become inevitable as it was a long-standing demand of the religious minorities of Pakistan.
“Unequivocally, it is a great step taken by the Sindh government to protect the religious minorities. Though it will not stop the ongoing trend in society, it will help to reduce such crimes and it will also build confidence and a sense of security among the religious minorities. The police do not normally take action in such cases, fearing the reaction and pressure from the Muslim community, but now they will have to take action.”
He went on to criticize the Punjab Government for overlooking the dilemma of the minorities’ girls. He urged the Punjab government following the footsteps of Sindh government. He said that Christian lawmakers must take an initiative to pass a similar law in Punjab province also.
“In June the Senate Standing Committee on Religious Affairs declared the forced conversion to Islam as un-Islamic and also expressed concern over the practice. The standing committee has also urged the government to adopt a comprehensive mechanism for the protection of women minority communities and even directed the federal and provincial governments to draft legislation which would curb the practice.”
He further expressed sadness, stating: “I wish the National Assembly had passed this law and people living everywhere in Pakistan could benefit from it as there is overwhelming evidence of forced conversions and a long standing demand from the religious minorities.”