Islamabad, Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan on Monday termed the practice of forced conversions as “un-Islamic” and said there was no precedent in Islamic history for forcefully converting others, according to media reports.
Addressing an event in connection with National Minorities Day at the Aiwan-e-Sadr (President’s House) in Islamabad, Khan also vowed to protect and develop worship places of minorities in Pakistan and also facilitate them to the maximum level to perform them religious rituals.
Khan said the Prophet himself had given minorities religious freedom and protected their places of worship, Dawn newspaper reported.
“How can we then take it into our own hands to forcefully convert someone to Islam – either by marrying (non-Muslim) women (…) or on gunpoint or to (by threatening to) kill someone because of their religion?” he asked.
“All these things are un-Islamic. If God hadn’t given his messengers the power to impose their beliefs on someone, who are we (to do so)?” he asked, explaining that the messengers’ duty was only to spread the word of God.
Khan reiterated his commitment to build Pakistan on the model of ‘State of Madina’, ensuring rights to people, rule of law and provision of facilities to citizens at equal level, state-run Radio Pakistan reported.
The prime minister said that his government is committed to open the Kartarpur corridor for Sikh community on 550th birth anniversary of Baba Guru Nanak.
His statement comes months after the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan in its annual report in April raised concerns about incidents of forced conversions and marriages of Hindu and Christian girls, saying around 1,000 such cases were reported in the southern Sindh province alone last year.
In March, two Hindu teenage sisters – Raveena (13) and Reena (15) – were allegedly kidnapped by a group of “influential” men from their home in Ghotki district in Sindh on the eve of Holi. Soon after the kidnapping, a video went viral in which a cleric was purportedly shown soleminising the marriage of the two girls, triggering a nationwide outrage.
Early this month, Pakistan’s Sindh Assembly unanimously passed a resolution demanding that the practice of forced conversions and abductions of Hindu girls must be stopped and action be taken against those involved in such activities.
The resolution – moved by Grand Democratic Alliance (GDA) lawmaker Nand Kumar Goklani – was supported by the ruling Pakistan Peoples Party as well as Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM), Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) and the hardline Jamaat-e-Islami.
Hindus form the biggest minority community in Pakistan.
According to official estimates, 75 lakh Hindus live in Pakistan. However, according to the community, over 90 lakh Hindus are living in the country.
Majority of Pakistan’s Hindu population is settled in Sindh province where they share culture, traditions and language with their Muslim fellows.