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Issue of Sindhi Cultural Genocide Raised in the UN

PTI | Geneva |

An event titled ‘Cultural Genocide of Sindhi People in Pakistan’ was hosted at the UN in Geneva by the World Sindhi Congress on 22nd September 2017. The event, moderated by Brian Toll, a senior expert on South Asia, saw the participation of speakers like Ogus K Salici, Member of the Turkish Parliament, Rubina Greenwood, President, World Sindhi Congress and Felipe Duarte, an expert on Terrorism and Jihad.

At the offset, Brian Toll set the tone for the event by informing the audience that the discussions would attempt to understand how the increase in radicalization and terrorism was impacting the survival of Sindhi culture in Pakistan.

The first speaker, Rubina Greenwood in her speech directly accused the Pakistani government of systematically targeting Sindhis through extra-judicial killings, enforced disappearances and forced conversion. She added that the Sindhi Hindu population was worse hit with girls from this community being kidnapped and married to Muslim men after being forcefully converted to Islam. She also held the Pakistani government responsible for attempting to erode Sindhi language and culture. As an example, she informed that more than 1500 Sindhi-language schools were shut down in Sindh province since 1947, thereby ensuring that over a period of time Sindhi became an endangered language, spoken by only a few.

Taking the discussion forward, Felipe Duarte stated that the gradual cultural obliteration in Pakistan was visible from the fact that the population of Hindus, which was 50 % in 1947, during the formation of Pakistan, stood at 10% by 1998.

This situation, he stated, would only be the outcome of continued social discrimination since the creation of the country. He also informed that in Sindh, due to its rich natural resources, the successive Pakistani governments had encouraged the migration of people from Punjab, thereby ensuring that Sindhis became a minority in their own homeland.

He gave examples particularly of Hindus in Sindh , who , he stated, were faced with destruction of their temples, kidnapping of their women and forceful conversion. Quoting a report of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, he informed that 35 Hindu girls are abducted and converted every month in Sindh. Felipe Duarte concluded by calling on the international community to support progressive forces in Pakistan and Sindh , in particular.

Ogus Kaan Salici’s address was focused on how terrorism threatened democracy and political stability in various countries. In this connection, he gave the example of how terrorirm had created a situation of fear and threatened liberal ideology in Afghanistan, Turkey and Indian Jammu & Kashmir. He opined that in order to send a strong message to radical forces it was important for the international community to stand together against violence and hate.

The event concluded with a hope that through the means of technology including social media, the issues related to the marginalization of Sindhis would reach more and more people across the world, so as to build pressure on Pakistan to resolve the situation.