Following reports of alleged ill-treatment of Hindus, particularly women

External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna on Wednesday appealed to Pakistan to protect the constitutional rights of its minorities by ensuring their safety, security and wellbeing.

He hoped that Islamabad would discharge its constitutional duties towards its minority communities in view of the purely humanitarian nature of this issue.

The Minister was making a statement in the Lok Sabha regarding the alleged ill-treatment of Hindus — particularly women — in Pakistan, an issue that was raised by senior Bharatiya Janata Party leader Murli Manohar Joshi on May 2 in the House.

He said though the 1972 India-Pakistan Shimla Agreement specifically provided for non-interference in each other's internal affairs, “nevertheless, based on the reports of persecution of minority groups in Pakistan, India has taken up the matter with Pakistan in the past.” Pakistan had said that it was fully cognisant of the situation and looked after the welfare of all its citizens, particularly the minorities.

Recently, in separate incidents, three Hindu girls in the Sindh province had reportedly been abducted and married against their will to Muslim men, after being forcefully converted to Islam, the Minister said and referred to a Pakistan government press release which had stated that the Pakistan President had taken serious note of the reports of the kidnapping of a Hindu girl from Mirpur Mathelo in Sindh and alleged forceful conversion.

The Pakistan President had called for a report from the provincial government. “The President also called for transparent and expeditious investigations in the matter and to take action in accordance with the law regardless of the influence and status of anyone involved in criminal activity,” Mr. Krishna said, quoting from the release.

In November 2011, on the killing of three Hindu doctors in Sindh, the President of Pakistan had called for a report on the incident and directed immediate arrest of the culprits. He had said it was the moral and legal responsibility of the government to protect members of the minority community against vandalism and atrocities.

Mr. Krishna said that while speaking on the occasion of Minorities' Day in Pakistan, Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani had, in August 2011, said: “Unfortunately some extremist elements with a view to advancing their own narrow and bigoted agendas have targeted the minorities. The government, however, stands fully committed to foiling the designs of these extremist elements. The perpetrators of crimes against the minority community anywhere in Pakistan must be brought to justice and they will be.”

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