Pak par panel on Hindus submits report to Zardari

Islamabad: A parliamentary committee formed by President Asif Ali Zardari to look into the grievances of Pakistani Hindus on Tuesday suggested that instances of the forcible conversion of Hindu girls should be treated as cases of abduction till the persons involved are cleared by authorities.

During a meeting with Zardari in Karachi on Tuesday night, the four-member committee headed by federal minister Maula Bux Chandio submitted a preliminary report on the grievances of the Hindu community.

The panel proposed that a case of abduction should be registered in connection with allegations of forcible conversion in future.

Such matters should be treated as abductions "until the girl makes a confessional statement before a court of competent jurisdiction and the court decides otherwise", the committee suggested.

Describing the committee`s visits to areas in Sindh with sizeable Hindu populations and meetings with members of the, Chandio said some Hindus had complained about the "abduction of their girls and their forcible conversion to Islam, which had caused resentment and a sense of insecurity among them".

Zardari formed the committee after the alleged abduction and forced conversion of a girl named Manisha Kumari caused widespread concern among Hindus in Jacobabad area of Sindh province last month.

Manisha later said she had eloped with a Muslim youth and married him.

Reports from different parts of Sindh and Balochistan provinces said that dozens of Sindh families had moved to India in recent years due to forced conversions, extortion demands and kidnapping for ransom.

The parliamentary committee was formed on August 10 to visit districts of Sindh and meet members of the Hindu community and report on their grievances, presidential spokesman Farhatullah Babar said.

Referring to its findings, the committee informed the President that immigration authorities at Lahore stopped 222 Pakistani Hindus from travelling to India on August 10 though they had valid visit visas.

However, after an enquiry by the Federal Investigation Agency showed that they all possessed valid visas, the Hindus were allowed to visit India for a pilgrimage, the parliamentarians said.