External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj on Tuesday intervened in a matter of alleged forced conversion of Pakistani Sikhs to Islam. Posting a Tweet, Swaraj said that India will take up the issue with the highest level in the Pakistan government. Sushma’s tweet came in response to a report published in leading Pakistan daily The Express Tribune. The newspaper published a story about the Sikh community protest against being forced to convert to Islam by the government official in Hangu district of Khaibar-Pakhtunwara. “We will take this up at the highest level with the Government of Pakistan,” Swaraj tweeted while tagging the Indian High Commission in the report. As per the report, Sikhs have lodged a complaint with Deputy Commissioner Hangu Shahid Mehmood against Assistant Commissioner Tehsil Tall Yaqoob Khan. The Sikhs have claimed that Khan was allegedly forcing Sikhs to convert to Islam.
The complainant, Farid Chand Singh, said it would not have affected them had it been someone ‘ordinary’. “When you hear such things from a government official, it becomes something really serious,” Singh was quoted as saying by The Express Tribune. However, Shahid Mehmood, Deputy Commissioner Hangu tried to cover up the matter. He said that Sikh community members got offended during a conversation with the assistant commissioner, which the latter never really meant. He also claimed that no such issue of conversions exists in the area, rather administration ensured religious freedom.
We will take this up at the highest level with Government of Pakistan. @IndiainPakistan
Sikh community in Hangu ‘being forced to convert’ http://t.co/HiWuVmBzbj
— Sushma Swaraj (@SushmaSwaraj) December 19, 2017
Earlier, Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh also reacted to the report and tagged Sushma Swaraj. “Request @SushmaSwaraj ji to take up this issue with Pakistan. We cannot allow the Sikh community to be victimised in such a manner. It’s our duty to help protect the Sikh identity and the @MEAIndia should pursue the matter at the highest levels. (sic)” he tweeted.
Request @SushmaSwaraj ji to take up this issue with Pakistan. We cannot allow the Sikh community to be victimised in such a manner. It’s our duty to help protect the Sikh identity and the @MEAIndia should pursue the matter at the highest levels.http://t.co/sRFjV1pk5Q
— Capt.Amarinder Singh (@capt_amarinder) December 19, 2017
Forced conversions have been an age-old issue in Pakistan. In June this year, it was reported that population of Hindus in Pakistan was declined drastically from about 23 per cent in 1947 to only 6 percent now due to forced conversions. Also, the incidents of minority Hindu girls are being abducted, forcibly converted and married to Muslims are common throughout the country. As per a report by Movement for Solidarity and Peace, around 1000 non-Muslim girls are converted to Islam every year in Pakistan and in Sindh, the ratio is 20 or more girls per month.