Source: The News
Jacobabad residents were stunned to see a Muslim serving the Hindu community at the Shivli Temple during the last week of the holy Muslim month of Ramazan.
Khurshid Khan, a senior lawyer from Peshawar who till recently served as deputy attorney general of Pakistan, served the Hindu worshippers at Shivli Temple in Jacobabad and Sadu Bela Temple in Sukkur for five days and celebrated Pakistan Independence Day with the Hindu community.
“Hindus in Sindh and other parts of Pakistan are more patriotic. The way they sang Main bhi Pakistan hoon, too bhi Pakistan hai on August 14 was so moving,” Khan, 63, told The News. He said many Hindus don’t like being termed “minority” and said they were only Pakistanis.
He travelled for 18 hours to reach Jacobabad in Ramazan, returning to Peshawar just before Eidul Fitr, having decided to visit the area after media reports that 60 Hindu families were migrating to India due to the law and order situation and threats from extortionists.
The president of the Hindu General Panchayat of Jacobabad, Mahesh Lakhani, had said that the Hindus were being harassed under a conspiracy so that the land mafia could occupy their properties worth billions of rupees. Member of the National Assembly from Jacobabad, Ejaz Hussain Jakhrani, termed themigration of Hindu families as media-created hype.
“The fact is that some Hindu families face problems at the hands of kidnappers and extortionists; there are illegal occupations and forced marriages. However, there are also cases of Hindu girls marrying Muslims of their own will,” said Khan.
His visit had two purposes, sevadari and research on why Hindus are feeling insecure in parts of Sindh. “I loved to serve the Hindus at their temples there. They are gentle, peace loving people and we need to give security and importance to them.”
Around 6.8 million Hindus live in Sindh province, mostly in districts of Tharparker, Hyderabad, Sukkur, Tando Mohammad Khan, Tando Allah Yar Khan, Jacobabad, Larkana, Ghotki, Khairpur, Sanghar and Umarkot. Sindh’s Hindu population forms around 94 per cent of their total population in Pakistan. Among them, over 90 per cent are from low caste, and the rest are well off people who dominate businesses in different districts of Sindh, according to Khan’s research. The well-off Hindus, he added, are facing threats from kidnappers, extortionists and land grabbers.
“I was told 60 families from Jacobabad have left for India to settle there. Other well off people are said to have shifted to other countries,” he said. “If I can learn so much about the miseries that Hindu families are facing in just five days, how can the federal and provincial government and its machinery remain unaware? The government should take concrete steps to address concerns of Hindu families all over Sindh and other parts of Pakistan.”
The senior lawyer said that a number of incidents of Hindu girls from poor families (or lower castes) being kidnapped for marriage were reported. “The latest issue was the kidnapping of Manisha (a minor) from Jacobabad, said to be kidnapped by Ghulam Murtaza. On August 16 she told the Sukkur bench of the Sindh High Court that she embraced Islam and married Ghulam Murtaza at her own will,” said Khan.
Three other upper class Hindu women, Dr Lata, Rinkle Kumari and Asha Kumari, had also told the court that they were not kidnapped.
The popular sevadar from Peshawar had visited different cities of India and Nepal where he served at mosques as well as worship places of Hindu and Sikh communities. Visiting India as part of a 205-member delegation of Supreme Court of Pakistan lawyers attending a seminar at Jaipur, Khan also made it a point to visit different religious cities of India as part of his campaign to promote the soft image of Pakistanis and Pakhtuns. From Jamia Masjid in Chandigarh to the Golden Temple in Amritsar and Birla Temple in New Delhi, Khurshid Khan polished shoes, swept floors and washed dishes to promote interfaith harmony.
On his return, the Supreme Court Bar Association served Khurshid Khan a show-cause notice for ‘defaming’ Pakistan abroad. He was recently removed from his office of deputy attorney general after developing differences with a political family from Peshawar.
Khurshid Khan’s slogan is “I am a Muslim, a Pakistani and a Pakhtun; I am not a terrorist.”
Khurshid began his sevadari by working at a Sikh temple in Dabgari, Peshawar, since mid April 2010, after kidnappers killed a Pakistani Sikh Jaspal Singh.
Javed Aziz Khan, a former president of the Khyber Union of Journalists (KhUJ), covers terrorism, political and social issues for The News International – firstname.lastname@example.org