The condition of minorities in Pakistan is similar to that of the Afghan refugees. As Afghan refugees, they have faced numerous challenges and difficulties over the years, starting with struggles to access basic services such as education, healthcare, and employment opportunities. Lack of human rights and discrimination in the applicability of the rule of law makes it even more challenging for them to secure stable livelihoods and protection.
Pakistani leaders spend more energy and money in claiming to protect the interests of minorities including Kashmiris than their own people but in reality, treat both groups with equal disdain. People have been queueing up for wheat, medicines, and other essential items of living for over a year with no relief in sight. Many have died in skirmishes to get bags of wheat. Millions cannot square up life in minimum wages and the inflation rate which has increased by 36 percent in April 2023.
Even during the Ramazan month, people had to make do with stale bread and water to break their fast. But both the civilian and military leaders lost no opportunity in projecting a great concern for Kashmir and its people. This misplaced altruism has fooled some but not at all. Kashmiris have now seen through the game of Pakistan.
In 2023 alone, over 28 Kashmiris have been killed in different parts of Pakistan. Not one FIR has been filed. Nor one accused hauled up. The disappearance of Kashmiris is no less horrendous than the disappearances of Baloch. Last month, more than 50 Baloch were killed and 31 were made to disappear, and like every time no one truly knows who killed them and where have they been taken.
Even those who are misled by the army to come and live in Pakistan find themselves at the tether’s end after their utility is over. Many are shot by anonymous assailants. They have seen what Pakistan has done to its own citizens. Hundreds of Baloch people disappear every year. Over a thousand minority girls are brutally abducted, raped, and converted. Many pashtun young men and women have been snatched from their families, locked up in secret prisons, and several never return. So is the case with Sindhi young men and women who dare open their mouths against injustice.
Sindh’s weaker tribes such as Hindus who have no connections with the elite and the influential suffer humiliation and are major victims of the high-headedness of the society’s cream. With the rise of extremism in Sindh, many have migrated to bigger cities or if their means allowed them, to Australia to seek asylum.
Recently a three-year-old Hindu boy Samrat Kumar was kidnapped by armed men on a motorcycle in Kandhkot, Sindh. The police have been complacent about Hindu security. Political and social organizations have called upon authorities, and organized sit-in protests at government buildings but the upholders of law are absolutely silent.
No one is safe in Pakistan. Not even in big cities. Citizens are getting shot and robbed on their way to the market for Bakri Eid shopping. Looting the innocent has not remained unnoticed by the police but they are not taking any active measures to maintain order. There is a general impression among the citizens that dacoits provide extortion at the police stations. The inflation, loss of purchasing power, and increasing crime rates have brought unrest among residents.
Now even Punjabis, who have had the gumption to take on the army following the arrest of former Prime Minister Imran Khan, face the brunt of the brutal jackboot. Women have been stuffed in dingy prisons, facing the worst of inhuman conditions. So how can Kashmiris believe the same leaders who feel no qualms about locking up senior leaders, pushing them into crowded prisons, and arresting them time and again till they break?
Baloch students studying at universities in Punjab were witch-hunted after May 9. Balochistan Home Minister Langoo claimed that Baloch students anyway face ‘ill-treatment’ in Punjab after all the hardships they go through to receive that education, and now they have to deal with Punjab police brutalities as well. It was also alleged that Lahore Police is also supporting the criminals and under a planned conspiracy students from Balochistan are tortured in Punjab. The crackdown was an excuse to solidify their plan.
Just last week UHNRC High Commissioner said that the rule of law in Pakistan is under serious threat. He said that the increase in assaults and arrests are a grave concern. And that it is a violation of international human rights laws to try civilian cases in military courts. The violence following May 9 underscores the urgency with which a mentality that sanctions abuse and endangers lives has to be corrected. At the 52nd session of the UNHRC activists from Azad Kashmir declared a ‘full humanitarian crisis’ in the Pakistan-administered Kashmir.
It doesn’t require great imagination to realize the slow death of minorities including Kashmiris in Pakistan. It is fallacious to expect a country that cannot safeguard the interests of its own people to look after the interests of others including Afghan refugees.
* Author chooses a single pseudonym. Shinwari is a freelance journalist based in Peshawar, Pakistan.
Note: The contents of the article are of sole responsibility of the author. Afghan Diaspora Network will not be responsible for any inaccurate or incorrect statement in the articles.