Last week, the land of the pure saw more acts of violence against women belonging to the persecuted minority, which has shrunk from over 20% to less than 2% in 68 years. First news to come to one’s notice was the unfortunate incident of the kidnapping of two little girls belonging to the Kolhi community, hailing from the Umerkot area in Sindh.  The family and other community members work at the Bodor Farms in the areas. According to the family of Sonrai Karmshi, 14 and Samjhoo Karmshi, 13, were abducted at gunpoint by five men of their landlord.  The family identified two of the kidnappers as Nawaz Halepoto and Mumtaz Halepoto, while the other three remain unidentified. About 1,000 members from the community, armed with batons and sticks, reached the Bodor Police station to register an FIR and also blocked the Umerkot-Samaro road. As a result of this protest the village of Halepotos was promptly evacuated.  The SSP of the area also claimed to have arrested three people from the village and was hoping the girls will be recovered in 24 hours.  This news made it to one of the leading English dailies the day after the girls were kidnapped.  However, there have been no follow up reports in any newspapers ever since.  Therefore one has no idea of the fate of these girls. One hopes that they don’t suffer the same fate faced by many other young Hindu girls, when they are kidnapped and then turn up a few days later surrounded by men twice or three times of their age, and claim to have accepted Islam and married these old men ‘of their own free will’.

The second incident has not been reported anywhere in the mainstream media so far.  It took place on 13th January 2016 somewhere after 9 pm. It involves three young ladies, Kiran (17 years), Shamroza (18 years) and Sumble (20 years) belonging to the Christian community, in Lahore.  These girls worked in a beauty parlor in the upscale DHA area, and were on their way home from work when they were approached by four apparently intoxicated men.  These men asked the girls to sit in their car so that they could all have some fun. According to details, the girls told the men that they were devout Christians and did not engage in illicit activities. This made the men even more aggressive in their approach and when the girls tried to run to save themselves, one of the men told them, "How dare you run away from us, Christian girls are only meant for one thing, which is to pleasure Muslim men." The men then hit the scared girls with their car, causing Kiran’s death.  The other two girls were fortunate to get away with broken bones.

This news has been shared widely on social media, where generally people are condemning the incident.  However, a number of people are of the opinion that this incident has wrongly been given a religious colour, and that this was a sordid episode targeting women belonging to working class. Religion has no role to play in this incident.

"Around 700 Christian women in Pakistan are abducted, raped and forced into Islamic marriage every year – that figure is almost two a day and the world does nothing." — Wilson Chowdhry, human rights activist, citing the Muslim non-governmental organization, "Movement of Solidarity and Peace."

We are clearly persecuting people in the name of religion.  There is an argument that people who get ill-treated have to suffer not just because of their faith but also as they belong to the lower socio economic strata, or the wrong gender.  I happen to disagree with this argument.  If this was the case, then we would not have had mass migrations of Christians, Hindus, Ahmedis and now Shias, belonging to the middle or even upper middle class. Agreed that Pakistan is a volatile country and there have been migration of people in general.  But if we look at the population of Pakistan and notice the shrinking percentage of minorities, compared with the bourgeoning number of Muslims, they tell us the real story. We the Muslims, Sunni Muslims are hell bent on takfir, conversion or elimination of all those who we deem unfit to be called momineen. The common Muslim Pakistani will tell us, this is not Islam and that Islam teaches tolerance, and respect towards women, and there is no compulsion in Islam.  Next someone will even quote ayats from the holy book.  However, the philosophy which generally prevails in the society and which a vast majority of Pakistani Muslims secretly believe in, is deduced from a certain understanding of the scriptures, which is propagated everywhere. The question of compulsion becomes complicated when scriptures are read and explained at various transliteration centres.  

It is quite clear from the available news, that the men in the car who were chasing Kiran and her friends were convinced that since she admitted she was a Christian, she was free for exploitation. Perhaps this made them more determined and aggressive in their pursuit. Those who kidnapped the two young girls from the Kolhi community have undoubtedly done so as they belong to the oppressed, labour class. Surely after taking advantage of the girls, they will attempt to convert them to Islam and believe that this act will exhilarate their status, getting them higher rewards in the afterlife. But in the process, they will ruin the lives of two young girls.  All for self-gratification, garbed in the guise of religious obligation.