Islamabad, March 6 (IANS) There has been a surge in Hindu families fleeing Pakistan’s Balochistan province as they feel insecure, a daily said Tuesday, adding that around 100 families have applied to the Indian High Commission for asylum.
An editorial in the News International said that traditionally religious minority groups in Balochistan have lived in a tolerant environment — but this is changing.
There are reports borne out by the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan that Hindus are feeling threatened in many cases and there are reliable reports of many abductions from the Hindu community.
“In the last month alone about 35 Hindu families have fled to Hub from different parts of the province, seeing it as a ‘safe haven’ from the conflicts that abound across Balochistan,” it said.
Citing reports, the daily observed: “this is not just a recent phenomenon and has been going on at ‘trickle’ level for years, but there has been a recent uptick in the numbers of families feeling so insecure that they decided to relocate”.
Minorities form approximately four percent of Pakistan’s total population of nearly 180 million. Over 80 percent of the non-Muslims in Pakistan are either Christians or Hindus.
The daily said the reports speak of abduction for ransom, traders and business-people as well as professionals like teachers and doctors, being harassed and in some cases dragged from their homes or places of work and killed in broad daylight.
“These people are not criminals or anything other than the ‘other’ – but they are now the targets – but of who? It is not just Hindus who are being targeted, it is Muslim minorities too,” the editorial rued.
It lamented that “nobody is ever brought to book for these crimes”.
And “there seems to be little inclination on the part of the government, provincial or federal, to follow up on them and pursue those who murder and harass minorities, and it is difficult to deduce other than that a blind eye is being turned, a deaf ear to protestations”.
It went on to say that “matters have got so bad that around 100 families have applied to the Indian High Commission seeking asylum – and these are people who were born and bred in Balochistan and whose families have lived there for generations”.
“They have grown up with Baloch customs and consider themselves Baloch – which does nothing to stop them suffering miserably at the hands ofwho? Seemingly the misery of Balochistan never ceases, and almost daily there is evidence that it is ever-deepening with the minorities also being targeted.”