The Islamic Republic of Pakistan has five major ethno-regional communities in viz. Baloch, Muhajir, Punjabis, Pushtuns and Sindhis, and other smaller groups. Several other religious and sectarian groups include Ahmadis, Christians, Hindus, Kalasha, Parsis and Sikhs, and Shia Muslim sects including Ismailis and Bohras.
Pakistan’s longest-serving head of state, Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq was a Pakistani four-star general who became the sixth President of Pakistan after declaring martial law in 1977.
Zia redirected the ideological direction of Pakistan. While laying down the foundation of the Islamic courts, he introduced Chapter 3A on Sharia courts. Article 203 (D), states:
‘The court may, [either of its own accord or] on the petition of a citizen of Pakistan or the Federal Government or a Provincial Government, examine and decide the question whether or not any law or provision of law is repugnant to the Injunctions of Islam, as laid down in the Holy Quran and Sunnah of the Holy Prophet, hereinafter referred to as the Injunctions of Islam.’
The Zia-led amendment in Article 260 of the Constitution declares Ahmadis to be a non-Muslim minority. Its clause C observes:
‘In the Constitution and all enactments and other legal instruments, unless there is anything repugnant in the subject or context, [a] “Muslim” means a person who believes in the unity and oneness of Almighty Allah, in the absolute and unqualified finality of the Prophethood of Muhammad (peace be upon him), the last of the prophets, and does not believe in, or recognize as a prophet, or religious reformer, any person who claimed or claims to be a prophet, in any sense of the word or of any description whatsoever, after Muhammad (peace be upon him) and;
“non-Muslim” means a person who is not a Muslim and includes a person belonging to the Christian, Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist or Parsi community, a person of the Qadiani group or Lahori group (who will call themselves “Ahmadis” or by any other name), or a Baha’i, and a person belonging to any of the scheduled castes.’
Conversion of Sikh shrine to Mosque
July 2020: Reports of alleged attempts made by Pakistan to convert a Sikh shrine into a mosque have fuelled up debates on pseudo secularism in Pakistan. India lodged a protest with Pakistan when reports of the Gurudwara Shahidi Asthan Bhai Taru Ji at the Naulakha bazaar in Lahore being converted into a mosque.
“A strong protest was lodged with the Pakistan High Commission today on the reported incident whereby Gurdwara Shahidi Asthan, site of martyrdom of Bhai Taru Singh ji at Naulakha Bazaar in Lahore, Pakistan has been claimed as the place of Masjid Shahid Ganj and attempts are being made to convert it to a mosque,” Foreign Ministry spokesperson Anurag Srivastava said in a statement.
New Delhi added, Gurudwara Shahidi Asthan Bhai Taru Ji is a historical gurudwara where Bhai Taru Ji made supreme sacrifice in 1745. The Gurdwara is a place of reverence and considered sacred by the Sikh community. This incident has been viewed with grave concern in India. There have been calls for justice for the minority Sikh community in Pakistan.”
“India expressed its concerns, in strongest terms on this incident and called upon Pakistan to investigate the matter and take immediate remedial measures. Pakistan was also called upon to look after the safety, security, well-being of its minority communities including protection of their religious rights and cultural heritage,” the MEA further said,
Pseudo Secularism In Pakistan is Threats To Sikh Pilgrimage
In January 2020, the Sikh religion’s major holy shrine- Gurudwara Shri Nankana Sahib came under threat. Nankana Sahib is the birthplace of the first Sikh guru- Guru Nanak Dev Ji. It was attacked by stone pelters who staged a protest against alleged police atrocities on Mohammed Hassan, accused of forcing a Sikh girl to convert to Islam before marrying her. The angry mob and protest were led by the accused’s brother.
In a video that surfaced, he can be heard saying that if the authorities did not stop the brutality he will not let any Sikh live in the city. He threatened to destroy the Nankana Sahib Gurdwara and build the mosque in that place. “We will ensure that there is not a single Sikh left in Nankana. And the name of this place will soon be changed from Nankana to Ghulam-e-Mustafa,” said Hassan’s brother.
According to a report by India Today, Jagjit Kaur, daughter of a granthi at Gurdwara Nankana Sahib, was allegedly kidnapped by Mohammed Hassan, who reportedly forced her to convert her to Islam and marry him. After diplomatic pressure from India, Pakistani authorities brokered a deal between families and they consented that the girl will be returned to the parents, but the girl, now known as Ayesha, has refused to comply with the deal and has said that she loves her husband and would not leave him.
A statement from the Centre came after Punjab CM Capt Amarinder Singh and SAD chief Sukhbir Singh Badal called out for action against the ongoing mob violence in Nankana Sahib.
Sikh community on Kartarpur corridor
The rights campaigners say its size has drastically come down within the past two decades — from around 40,000 in 2002 to 8,000 now.
India Today reported: “This is a fact that the Sikh population in Pakistan has been consistently declining,” said Professor Kalyan Singh, a minority rights activist and a teacher at Lahore’s GC College University. “One of the reasons behind this decline is of course forced conversion.”
In November last year, Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan laid the foundation of a new project — the Katarpur Sahib corridor linking the historical site with the Indian border.
On the face of it, the move looked noble. But reports of forced conversions and dwindling Sikh population in Pakistan have alarmed the Sikh community within and outside the country.
“There is no concept of conversions in the Sikh religion,” remarked Harinder Pal Singh, a senior executive member of the Badal-controlled Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee. “It has brought the duality of Imran Khan to the fore. On the one hand, he’s making tall claims about Sikh initiatives, on the other hand, Sikh women in his country are being subject to this kind of treatment. His claims are under suspicion now,” said the Akali leader.