Minorities are living in Balochistan since centuries. They are comprised of Hindus, Sikhs, Christians, Parsis, and Bahaies. They are leading a well life. Balochistan is a tribal area, according to Baloch tribal traditions, minorities are considered as Bahot (person seeking refuge) and according to these traditions there should be given complete protection to Bahot. Therefore, because of these traditional norms and values, minorities are leading a peaceful and prosperous life in Balochistan.
In 2010, the situation in Balochistan remained quite tensed as incidents of kidnapping for ransom were common, besides Muslims, people belonging to minorities were also being abducted for ransom. Because of these incidents, many people belonging to Hindu community had to migrate from Balochistan to Karachi and other parts of Sindh.
Dr. Parksh, who later embraced Islam and changed his name as Dr. Abdullah Dostain told Balochi Zind that he had embraced Islam willingly without any pressure. “I deeply studied Islam and inspired through its teachings and converted my religion,” he said.
Abdullah said he was married and had two daughters namely Radika and Radka before converting into Islam, and I told my wife to take both daughters with her as when anybody converts into other religion in Hindus religion he/she is ousted from the family. “My parents, brothers and sisters were unhappy and they disconnected all contacts from me. At that period I lost my mother but unfortunately I could not meet her, however, after the death of her I could meet my father and other family members,” he said, adding that I have married a Muslim girl and have four children, three daughters and a son.
When Abdullah was asked about his feelings when he reunion with his family and what were the mistake of his Hindu children who remained deprived of love of father, Abdullah said, the mother of my children was not allowing them to meet me. “In fact their education and feeding is my duty but I cannot do anything because of attitude of their mother,” he added.
Like other minorities there are Sikh community in Balochistan, who are dwelling for centuries and contributing and playing their role for the development of Balochistan province and Pakistan.
Talking to Balochi Zind, president of Sikh community Sardar Jasber Singh said population of Sikhs community in Balochistan is around 2500 who are the followers of Guru Nanak.
“Sikh community is living a peaceful life as other citizens of the country and facing no difficulty in the province thanks to Almighty God. We celebrate all our religious festivals and rituals every year without any concern,” he added. However, Jasber complains that five percent quota in government jobs is not being implemented properly in Balochistan.
He hoped that incumbent Balochistan government headed by Chief Minister Jam Kamal Khan will address this issue of minorities while Parliamentary secretary for minorities’ Mr. Danesh Kumar is also working for addressing the issues of minorities.
Jasber says there is no issue of forcibly conversion of religion in Balochistan though such issues are existed in Sindh where girls hailing from Sikh and Hindu communities have been allegedly forced to convert their religion. “After every incident such cases were branded as love marriage and court marriage,” he said, adding that we appeal Sindh government as well as federal to take concrete steps to curb such incidents.
Balochistan is also abode of Christian community who are living happily with Muslims and other communities, playing a significant role in the development of the province.
Chairman Christian Community Quetta Asif John talking to Balochi Zind says presently there are 3500 Christian families living in Balochistan. “The biggest problem which is being faced by the Christian community is lack of opportunities in government jobs. Five percent quota allocated for minorities in government jobs is not being implemented. A large number of educated Christians are jobless,” he regretted.
Nasir John says they feel themselves secure in the province and facing no issue in connection with religion however an attack had occurred on Church a couple of year back. “Incidents of terrorism had also taken place in other parts of the country and it is not specific to a single community,” he said.
Luckily, Balochistan province has also a population of Parsi community though it has shrunk to an alarming level yet it existed in the province and had played vital role in the development of the province.
Ms Roshan Khursheed Bharucha, former provincial and federal caretaker minister talking to Balochi Zind, says, “We don’t consider ourselves as minority in Balochistan”. She said the total population of Parsi community is 2000 throughout the country however, only four families are residing in Balochistan right now. “We believe in merit and students from our community hold top positions in NED and other educational institutions of Karachi,” Ms Bharucha said, adding that both merit and allocation of 5 percent quota in government jobs benefit our children.
She concedes that minorities are living a very good life in Balochistan as well as in the whole country while she herself belongs to Parsi community and she had served as federal and provincial caretaker minister. “We are provided with every opportunity to progress in Balochistan and in Pakistan,” he added.
Talking to Balochi Zind, former Chief Minister Balochistan Dr. Abdul Malik Baloch says as a Chief Executive of the province I strived hard to ensure all basic rights to minorities besides ensuring their security. “Law and order in Balochistan was drastically deteriorated in 2013 when I assumed charge as chief minister as highways connecting Quetta –Karachi, Quetta- Sibi were not safe for travelling while markets and shops in Quetta would close before Maghrib prayers, while incidents of kidnapping for ransom were on their peak,” he said, adding that at that period nobody was feeling secure including that of minorities.
Malik Baloch said that law and order was a big challenge for his government, however, through hardworking and evolving a better strategy he could manage to revive peace in the province, curb incidents of kidnapping and save highways for travelling.
Danesh Kumar said that according to last census, the number of minorities in the entire country is around 8 million. “Minorities in Balochistan are 2.5 percent of the whole population of the province, and presently Hindus, Sikhs, Christians, Parsis and Qadyanis are living in Balochistan,” he said, adding that the largest minority community is Hindus and secondly Christians.
Minorities were deprived of their quota in government jobs and their worshiping places were not given due focus in past, however, Chief Minister Jam Kamal Khan had issued strong directives for complete implementation 5 percent job quota of minorities besides tangible steps had been taken for the safety of worship places minorities.
He said that Jam Kamal had particularly directed all Deputy Commissioners for ensuring their participation in the festivals of minorities besides extending all cooperation towards them.
Danesh Kumar says that Balochistan is the only province of the country where incidents of enforced conversion of religion is almost zero. “Balochistan is a tribal society and minorities are residing in Balochistan since centuries therefore they feel secure themselves with Muslims and other communities,” he added.
He said in some areas of Balochistan when people belonging to Christian community are appointed as sweeper they are offered to embrace Islam and then they would be freed from discharging duty.
He said that in 2010 when law and order was deteriorated nobody was feeling himself secure whether hailing from minority or majority. However, many people belonging to Hindu community migrated to Karachi from various areas of Balochistan in 2013, but when new government had formed head by Dr. Abdul Malik Baloch the situation improved slowly and gradually.
“The credit of improving law and order indeed goes to Malik Baloch, and Chief Minister Jam Kamal is also giving first priority to law and order, therefore long-lasting peace has returned back to Balochistan,” he added.
Danesh said that it is high time that we all should uphold and implement what father of Nation Quaid –i- Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah had said while addressing to the legislative assembly on Aug 11, 1947 that all citizens were free to go their worship places without any distinction of their religion or faith.