Temple vandalism & Anusha Meghwar abduction expose Imran Khan’s hollow rhetoric

The PM of Pakistan and ex-cricketer Imran Khan recently boasted that he would teach the Indian Government on how to treat minorities, after picking up on comments made by Indian film actor Naseeruddin Shah that he ‘fears for his children in India of today’.

Imran Khan is trying to mount a much needed PR campaign to improve the global image of his country, which lies in tatters today. But two recent incidents again prove how all such talk about justice for Pakistani minorities is just so much hot air.

Case 1: Anusha Megwar’s abduction & forced conversion/marriage

Anusha Meghwar, a 16-year-old Hindu girl from Salam Kot area in Tharparkar (Sindh province), was forcibly married after her conversion to Islam, it was reported. PM Imran Khan’s own ex-wife & journalist Reham Khan expressed her disgust over these repeated abductions, rapes and forced marriages with full complicity of the Pakistani state –

Kapil Dev, a Hindu activist, noted that it is because of such incidents that Pakistani Hindus leave their motherland.

Case 2: Bhagavad Gita burning & Hindu temple vandalism in Sindh

This incident happened just 3 days back, when the Sham Sundar Seva Mandli temple in Khairpur was vandalised and sacred texts like Bhagavad Gita were burnt.

Temple vandalism is a frequent occurence in Pakistan – for eg, some time back, a temple was vandalised and murtis of deities were thrown in a gutter in Sindh’s Gharo town. And if a temple is not being vandalised, it is gradually usurped by land sharks and Pakistani state. A survey revealed that out of 428 minorities’ places of worship in Pakistan, 408 have been converted into toy stores, restaurants, government offices and schools after 1990.

Hindus constitute less than 2% of Pakistan’s population, and 93% of this Hindu population is based in the ‘liberal’ Sindh province. Yes, this is the state of Hindus in what Pakistanis consider the most ‘liberal’ province – you can only imagine the bigotry levels in other provinces like Punjab & Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

Imran Khan aka ‘Taliban’ Khan – an adovcate of medieval sharia law

After retiring from cricket in 1992 (where he was well known for his playboy, Anglicized lifestyle), Imran Khan plunged full-time into politics a few years later. Starting out as an anti-corruption crusader, Khan slowly became a born-again Muslim and developed an image of Islamic piety. He started speaking up for the civilian casualties of the American drone attacks in the country’s tribal areas adjoining Afghanistan, attacks which were being conducted as part of a tacit understanding with the Pakistani Army and State.

In his memoir, ‘Pakistan: A personal history’, Khan wrote about the ill-effects of colonisation and that Pakistan had to be rooted in the traditions of Islam. About the independence of Pakistan, he wrote that “we were a free people, free to rediscover an Islamic culture that had once towered over the subcontinent”.

In Pakistan’s circuit of secularists (a minuscule, powerless minority), Khan is often referred to as ‘Taliban Khan’. He views the situation in Pakistan’s tribal areas as a rebellion against colonial occupation. His sympathies towards the Taliban have been made evident on several occasions – in 2002, he stated that he was inspired by the Taliban system of justice and wanted to establish the same system after assuming power; in 2012, after the Taliban shot 14-year-old activist Malala Yousafzai in the head, Khan refused to condemn them by name; in 2013 he described a top Taliban leader as ‘pro-peace’. He also suggested that the Taliban should be allowed to open an office in Pakistan. He is an advocate of state funding of madarsas run by the Taliban.

Imran Khan

William Dalrymple, who has interviewed Khan a couple of times, writes, “He believes that the Islamic Sharia law has much to recommend it, comparing the almost complete absence of petty crime in the tribal areas of Pakistan, where Sharia is in force, with the anarchy of New York at night.”

It is said that General Hamid Gul, the former ISI chief often dubbed the ‘father of the Taliban’ and Muhammad Ali Durrani, the then head of the fundamentalist Jamaat-e-Islami youth wing, encouraged Khan to enter politics and assisted him. Further, when General Pervez Musharraf came to power in a coup, Khan supported him and when the US launched a raid to assassinate Osama Bin Laden, he rebuked the civilian government, all the while avoiding the question on how Laden managed to take refuge in an army garrison town.

In 2015,  Imran Khan had extended an invitation to controversial former Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) Member National Assembly (MNA) from Sindh, Pir Abdul Haq alias Mian Mithu to join his party. Mian Mithu is one of the Pir (Sufi religious leader) of Dargah Barchoondi Sharif and the mastermind of forced conversion of Hindu girls racket. Thousands of Hindu girls and young women have been forcefully converted to Islam, many underage & mostly belonging to poor scheduled castes — Bheel, Meghwar and Kohli – in Pakistan in the last few decades, and the racket flourishes with full complicity of Pakistani police and courts, with girls & their families being threatened to keep quiet and accept their fate in courts. It was only when the Pakistani Hindu Council objected to Imran Khan’s invitation to a bigoted criminal like Mian Mithu that he withdrew the offer.

So when someone like Imran Khan claims that he will provide just & equitable treatment to minorities like the hapless Hindus of Pakistan, such rhetoric must be taken with a bag of salt.

The left-liberal brigade in Bharat is just waiting for a Congress-led government to be sworn in after the 2019 elections, so they can start their favorite ‘Aman ki Asha’ (hoping for peace) circus, this time with the added romanticism around Imran Khan’s dashing cricket playing days & his bonhomie with Indian cricketers like Siddhu etc. Pro-Pakistan apologists in our polity will continue proposing a dialogue with Pakistan out of votebank politics to address their core constituencies and furtherance of their appeasement policy rather than a serious discourse in national interest.

But even leaving aside Imran Khan’s obvious Islamist leanings and his willingness to ally with bigots & dreaded Sunni militant outfits, we will do well to remember that Imran Khan (any Pakistani PM, for that matter) is ruled and guided by the powerful troika of military-mullah-militants. In fact, ISI has ramped up its efforts to destabilize Bharat through terrorism in different parts of the country.

The only rational option for Bharat is to open its borders for Hindu refugees from Pakistan as the Citizenship Amendment Bill introduced by Modi Government intends to do, and to totally freeze relations with Pakistan until their is a verifiable weakening of the military-mullah-militant nexus in that country.

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