Saturday, March 3, 2018

Hindu Dalit Woman Elected to Pakistan Senate

Krishna Kumari Kohli today made history by becoming the first-ever Hindu Dalit woman Senator in the upper house of Pakistan, according to media reports.  Her election represents a major milestone for women and minority rights in the Islamic Republic of Pakistan.

Pakistan Senator Krishna Kumari Kohli

Once a bonded laborer, the 39-year-old Kohli from rural Sindh was elected to a Senate seat reserved for minorities. She was nominated by the Pakistan Peoples Party.

Senator Krishan Kumari Kohli: 

Kohli, was born in Nagarparkar village in the Thar desert region to a poor Hindu Dalit peasant family in 1979. She and her family were held as bonded labor for at least three years in a jail run by a landlord when Kohli was a child. Married at the age of 16,  Kohli still pursued a masters degree in sociology from the Sindh University.  Kohli now works for minority rights, especially those related to girls' education.

Thar Development:

Thar, one of the least developed regions of Pakistan, is seeing unprecedented development activity in energy and infrastructure projects.  New roads, airports and buildings are being built along with coal mines and power plants as part of China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). There are construction workers and machinery visible everywhere in the desert. Among the key beneficiaries of this boom are Thari Hindu women who are being employed by Sindh Engro Coal Mining Company (SECMC) as part of the plan to employ locals. Highlighted in recent news reports are two Hindu women in particular: Kiran Sadhwani, an engineer and Gulaban, a truck driver.

Kiran Sadhwani, a Thari Hindu Woman Engineer. Source: Express Tribune

Thar Population:

The region has a population of 1.6 million. Most of the residents are cattle herders. Majority of them are Hindus.  The area is home to 7 million cows, goats, sheep and camel. It provides more than half of the milk, meat and leather requirement of the province. Many residents live in poverty. They are vulnerable to recurring droughts.  About a quarter of them live where the coal mines are being developed, according to a report in The Wire.

Hindu Woman Truck Driver in Thar, Pakistan. Source: Reuters

Some of them are now being employed in development projects.  A recent report talked of an underground coal gasification pilot project near the town of Islamkot where "workers sourced from local communities rested their heads after long-hour shifts".

Hindu Woman Truck Driver in Thar, Pakistan. Source: Reuters 

In the first phase, Sindh Engro Coal Mining Company (SECMC) is relocating 5 villages that are located in block II.  SECMC is paying villagers for their homes and agricultural land.

SECMC’s chief executive officer, Shamsuddin Ahmed Shaikh, says his company "will construct model towns with all basic facilities including schools, healthcare, drinking water and filter plants and also allocate land for livestock grazing,” according to thethirdpole.net He says that the company is paying villagers above market prices for their land – Rs. 185,000 ($ 1,900) per acre.

Hindu Women Employment:

Sindh Engro Coal Mining Company (SECMC), the largest contractor working in Thar desert coal project, has committed itself to hiring locals wherever possible.

When SECMC launched its Female Dump Truck Driver Program near the town of Islamkot in Thar,  Kiran Sadhwani, a female engineer, visited several villages to motivate women to apply for the job and empower themselves, according to Express Tribune newspaper. “Not all women who are working as dumper drivers are poor or in dire need of money. It is just that they want to work and earn a living for themselves and improve the lives of their families,” she told the paper.

SEMC is hiring 30 women truck drivers for its Thar projects, according to Dawn newspaper.

Summary:

Krishna Kumari Kohli today made history by becoming the first-ever Hindu Dalit woman Senator in the upper house of Pakistan, according to media reports.  Her election represents a major milestone for women and minority rights in the Islamic Republic of Pakistan.

Beyond the symbolic election of Senator Kohli, it is good to see that Thar development boom is empowering Pakistani Hindu women with jobs in nontraditional occupations ranging from engineering to truck driving. These pioneering women will inspire and empower young girls to pursue their dreams in Pakistan and elsewhere in the world.

Related Links:

Haq's Musings

Working Women Seeding a Silent Revolution in Pakistan

Thar Development Boom in Pakistan

Abundant, Cheap Coal Power for Pakistan

Fact-Checking Farahnaz Ispahani's Claims on Pakistani Minorities

Pakistani Hindu Population Fastest Growing in the World

Recurring Droughts in Pakistan

Thar Drought: Pre-cursor to Dust Bowl in Pakistan?

Campaign of Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt About CPEC

23 comments:

Z Basha Jr said...

Riaz sb i see subtle shift in your postings these days? You no longer seem to agree with two nation theory ? Is this a good trend?

Anonymous said...

So proud ofor Ms. Konline as well as of Pakistan.

Time to fulfill Jinnah's promise, you may go to mosque or temple.....

Zamir

Rks said...

Riaz Bhai, these are all Hindu women (I consider them Indian women who are unfortunate to have been stuck in Pakistan). Hindu women in my opinion are more hard working and diligent than men. Where are Muslim women examples.

Riaz Haq said...

19640909rk : "these are all Hindu women (I consider them Indian women who are unfortunate to have been stuck in Pakistan)."


The Hindu women mentioned in the post are every bit as Pakistani as other Pakistani men or women.

They are not "stuck in Pakistan"


Some of them are doing much better than Dalit and other Hindu women in India.


Read more about women in Pakistan here: http://www.riazhaq.com/2018/02/pakistani-woman-saadia-zahidi-leads.html

Riaz Haq said...

#Pakistan's first #Hindu #Dalit #woman #Senator Krishna Kumari Kohli : ‘My first priority is health, education of Thari women’

https://www.dawn.com/news/1395331/living-colours-my-first-priority-is-health-education-of-thari-women

In the third grade, Krishna Kumari Kohli was held captive in a private jail with her family for three years in rural Sindh. At 16, she was married. Ms Kohli became the first Hindu Dalit woman to be elected to the Senate. Also known as Kishoo Bai, Ms Kohli was elected on a reserved seat on a PPP ticket. Prior to becoming a senator, she was an activist in a village in Nagarparkar.

Dawn caught up with her in Islamabad and talked about her struggle for her rights of the people of Tharparkar.

Q: How were you able to continue your studies after you were married?

A: My husband, Lal Chand, was 19 at the time of our marriage and he too was studying in Hyderabad, and my in-laws also supported girls’ education.

It so happened that my sister-in-law was a doctor in a community of two million, so I had all the support. The only issue was that I moved into a joint family, so in addition to my studies I had to take care of my ailing in-laws and do other household work as well. My biggest issue was time management; my home was in Mirpurkhas and my college in Hyderabad.

Q: You have worked on various social and community issues as an activist. How do you see yourself bringing a change sitting in the Senate?

A: My brother Veerji Kohli is a licensed lawyer and has been fighting cases of bonded labour, rape, domestic violence and other social community-based issues. He has been implicated in many false cases by the feudals of our area, but nothing has stopped him or me from continuing our struggle.

We work together, and I will act as a bridge between his struggle for the people of Tharparkar and the Senate. I have worked with my family in the lands of village landlords, I have been a victim of bonded labour, I have seen minor girls raped and marginalised communities in our area suffer the wrath of feudal lords – not to mention forced conversions of minorities in Sindh. So my agenda is very focused for my term in Senate.

Q: What inspired you to become a voice of your community and rise against feudalism, knowing the consequences?

A: My brother and I attended the Mehergarh Youth Leadership Camp in 2007. Mehergarh is a centre for learning in the area of human rights in Pakistan. They organise annual camps to promote peace and harmony, which draw participants from across the country, from all religious and a range of backgrounds.

I am proud to say that it served as a catalyst. I am not the same person anymore. I made a commitment to myself that I have to speak, I have to rise and I have to deliver.

Q: What will be the first agenda you will introduce as senator?

A: The right to basic health and education for the women of Tharparkar. My first and foremost priority is health and education for the people of Thar, and in particular the women of Tharparkar.

Our area is deprived of basic education and health facilities. For ailing mothers and children, the only hope of survival is the Mithi District Hospital, approximately 150 kilometres away.

The lack of dispensaries, basic health units and meagre supply of emergency medicines result in deaths of newborns and their malnourished expectant mothers. Pre-birth deaths, lack of hospital facilities, medical centres and schools for girls’ education are nonexistent in Thar. We have to travel miles and miles.

Ancient Pakistan said...

Please refrain from calling Pakistani Hindus by "caste". Mrs. Kholi has already publicly remarked that calling her a "Dalit" is a equal to cursing her. Hindus from the Indus Valley don't follow the Puranas and Manusmiriti, which are Gangetic texts. Hindus from the Indus Valley (ie. Pakistan) follow mostly Vedic tradition from the Rig Vedas, which forbides caste. This is the majority of Hindus in Pakistan (from Sindh) do not follow caste system. This is also why most Hindus in Pakistan bury there dead and eat beef as well, because Vedas do not forbid it.

I suggest you follow the page "Ancient Pakistan" and read the article "What is the difference between Pakistani Hindus and Indian Hindus". It's a wonderful comparison and really explains the differences using the Vedas as reference.

Thank you.

https://www.facebook.com/AncientPakistan.pk/posts/1814928355233807

Riaz Haq said...

Three minority candidates elected on general seats in Pakistan

https://www.geo.tv/latest/205200-three-minority-candidates-elected-on-general-seats-in-pakistan

For the first time in Pakistan's history, three minority candidates were elected on general seats in the National Assembly and the Sindh Assembly.

People voting in favour of these candidates shows that the people of Sindh have rejected the politics of hate, and elected people regardless of their religion.

Interestingly, all three candidates were contesting on the ticket of Pakistan Peoples Party.

It is pertinent to note that majority of the Hindu voters reside in Sindh, of which 40% live in two districts; Umerkot and Tharparkar.

Here's a list of the three candidates who have been voted by the people of Sindh:

Mahesh Kumar Malani

Pakistan Peoples Party's Mahesh Kumar Malani clinched victory in the NA-222 constituency of Tharparkar after securing 106,630 votes.

On the other hand, his main competitor Arbab Zakaullah managed to secure only 87,261 votes.

Hari Ram

PPPP's Hari Ram was proven to be victorious in PS-147 Mirpurkhas 1 constituency after securing 33,201 votes.

His competitor from Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan, Mujeeb Ul Haque, secured 23,506 votes.

Giyanoo Mal

PPPP's Giyanoo Mal secured victory in PS-81 constituency of Jamshoro after getting a total of 34,927.

Independent candidate Malik Changez Khan was the runner-up after securing 26,975 in the said constituency.

Riaz Haq said...

#Pakistani woman of #African ancestry makes history as the first Sheedi elected to #SindhAssembly. #Pakistan #PakistanElection2018 https://www.dawn.com/news/1423754

Among many firsts that have recently been introduced in the country’s parliamentary politics — many of them are credited to the Pakistan Peoples Party — Tanzeela Qambrani is another soothing addition to the list for being the first Sindhi Sheedi woman to be part of the provincial legislature.


In Sindh’s society where its inhabitants with ancestry entrenched in Africa are still being discriminated against in various forms and manifestation, Tanzeela is no exception. She received her own share of prejudice from the society dominated by feudal class.

A postgraduate in computer science from the University of Sindh, Tanzeela, 39, is the first Sheedi who has returned to the Sindh Assembly on the PPP’s quota of reserved seats for women.

“This is a bold step (getting a Sheedi elected to Sindh Assembly) that required courage which no one but the son of Benazir Bhutto could do and he did it,” said Tanzeela, a mother of three, while speaking to Dawn.

It was not the first time that her party had tried to give her an elevated elected post. The PPP had nominated her to head the municipal committee in Matli in Badin district, which, “some influential people also from the PPP could not digest”.

An influential PPP member went against the party’s discipline and competed for the chairman’s post as an independent member. He got some other members on his back and got elected. The party challenged his election, but the election commission upheld it.

Tanzeela has the name which has great similarity with the country from where her great-grandparents had been brought to the southern coastline of Sindh.

“My father told us that his grandparents had been brought to Sindh now around a century ago from Tanzania,” she said.

“That’s why,” she said, “one of my sisters is married of in Tanzania”.

“Before this day,” said Tanzeela choked with emotions, “we, the Sheedi community, still were on the unending stairs of a ship. Today, it seems we have found the land after centuries of ordeal”.

With black complexion, big nose, curly hair and thick lips, Tanzeela would wear jeans and headscarf and “many of students would consider me as a Sudanese” and not many of them would pass pleasant comment about her in Sindhi.

She, however, said despite prejudices not everyone she came across outside the Sheedi community was a foe.

“Many kind souls came across me and they helped a great deal and the greatest example of it is our chairman Bilawal Bhutto,” she said.

Tanzeela’s father was a lawyer and mother got retired as a school headmistress.

“But, Mohammad Siddique Musafir, a great Sindhi Sheedi writer and teacher, was the real hero who taught many of us to live respectably.”

Riaz Haq said...

BBC News - #Pakistan's first lawmaker of #African descent raises hopes for #Sidi community. Sidis descended from #slaves brought to #India from East #Africa by #Portuguese. Their ancestors were also soldiers, traders, pearl divers, #Muslim pilgrims. https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-45099970

Pakistan is set to have its first ever lawmaker of African descent, raising the profile of a small and mostly poor community that has been in the region for centuries.

Tanzeela Qambrani, 39, was nominated by the Pakistan People's Party (PPP), of former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, to a women's reserved seat in the regional parliament of southern Sindh province.

She hopes her nomination after last month's election will help wash away the stigma attached to the Sidi community, the local name for the ethnic African population concentrated in the coastal regions of Makran and Sindh.

"As a tiny minority lost in the midst of local populations, we have struggled to preserve our African roots and cultural expression, but I look forward to the day when the name Sidi will evoke respect, not contempt," Ms Qambrani, whose ancestors came from Tanzania, told the BBC.

Many Sidis are believed to be descended from slaves brought to India from East Africa by the Portuguese. Historians say their ancestors were also soldiers, traders, pearl divers and Muslim pilgrims.

They enjoyed senior positions during the Mughal empire but faced discrimination under British colonial rule.

Estimates put their population in Pakistan in the tens of thousands. They are well-integrated but keep alive some traditions, including an annual festival that blends Islamic mysticism, crocodiles and singing in a blend of Swahili and a local language called Baluchi.

Sidi communities also live in the Indian states of Karnataka, Gujarat and Andhra Pradesh.

The Sidis dominate the Lyari district of Karachi and have been staunch supporters of the PPP, now chaired by Benazir Bhutto's son, Bilawal Zardari Bhutto.

However, no Sidi had ever made it to parliament until Mr Bhutto Zardari nominated Ms Qambrani for the reserved seat.

"Just as Columbus discovered America, Bilawal has discovered Sidis," said Ms Qambrani, whose great-grandparents came to Sindh from Tanzania.

The PPP came third in the recent general election, which was won by former cricketer Imran Khan's PTI party. However the PPP again won the most seats in the Sindh provincial assembly.

Can Imran Khan change Pakistan?
Ms Qambrani, a computer science postgraduate with three children, hails from the coastal area of Badin. Her father, Abdul Bari, was a lawyer while her mother is a retired school teacher.

Her family has kept its African connections alive; one of her sisters was married in Tanzania, while another has a husband from Ghana.

"When my sister married a Ghanaian husband, local youths and guests from Ghana put on such a show in our neighbourhood," she said.

"They danced those typical Sidi steps to the Mogo drumbeat which they say comes from Ghana but which we've traditionally played in our homes. You couldn't tell a Sidi dancer apart from an African."

Riaz Haq said...

The minority women taking on Pakistan's political elite to campaign for better health

https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2018/08/15/minority-women-taking-pakistans-political-elite-campaign-better/

hen Sunita Parmar Menghwar became frustrated at the lack of health care, water and education in her corner of Pakistan, she had little hope existing politicians would improve things.

Believing her community had been neglected and betrayed by the political elite, she decided instead to take matters into her own hands, and stand for election herself.

For people like Mrs Parmar, Pakistan's politics is not an easy world to enter.

As well as a Hindu woman in a country that is 96 per cent Muslim, she is also one of Pakistan's 40 so-called scheduled castes – those at the bottom of the caste hierarchy who are known in neighbouring India as dalits, or untouchables.

In a country where politics is often the preserve of a dynastic elite or the sport of feudal landowners, to contest an open seat as a minority woman is almost unheard of.

Undaunted, the 39-year-old from Tharparkar last month joined a handful of women from similar castes and religious minorities elsewhere in the country, trying to get elected onto Pakistan's provincial or national assemblies.

While their numbers were small and none of the independent candidates were elected, the very fact they even stood, often to improve health and education, has been described as a milestone by campaigners.

“I took this stand for the people of Tharparkar, for the people of my ‘status’,” she told the Telegraph.

“Because they don’t have representatives to voice their concerns. Thar has always been ruled by the feudal class, but they have given us nothing. They only visit us during election time to collect votes. They give money in exchange for votes, and people accept it out of greed. And then they leave.”

“Our people don’t realise the importance of their vote – they sell themselves. The people of Thar do not have roads, water to drink, hospitals, schools – the basic necessities of life.”

Pakistan's minorities have this year seen the first election of a female, scheduled caste Hindu senator, Krishna Kumari Kohli. At the time of her election she vowed to work for the “empowerment of women, their health, and education”.

Pakistan's assembly has 70 seats reserved for minorities and women, but the general election also saw the first election of a Hindu politician to a general seat, Mahesh Kumar Malan.

Seema Maheshwari, a human rights activist in Sindh, said the fact many of the 10 minority women had stood for general seats as independents in the rural parts of the province or in the port of Karachi was a “sea change”.

She said it was sign of growing confidence among women. She said: “We can see that not only male persons, but also female persons can stand. Women think they are adults, they are citizens, they are also human beings.”

Basic healthcare, clean water and education were often the core of their election demands.

The Thar desert in Sindh province is one of the most deprived parts of the country and its residents are largely Hindu.

Mrs Parmar, a university graduate from the local city of Mithi, said: “In particular, I would like to open a hospital that has a gynecology department, with all the equipment and tools for delivery, so women don’t have to travel far. The way it is in other places. Many women die during child birth.

Riaz Haq said...

In a first, #Pakistan appoints #Hindu #woman Suman Bodani underdeveloped rural area of Sindhas civil #judge https://tribune.com.pk/story/1898858/1-first-pakistan-appoints-hindu-woman-civil-judge/

For the first time in Pakistan’s judicial history a woman belonging to Hindu community has been appointed as civil and judicial magistrate.

Suman Bodani, hailing from Sindh’s Shahdadkot district, was declared eligible for the post after passing her judicial officers’ examination with flying colours – securing 54th position on the merit list, Express News reported on Monday.

Speaking to a foreign news outlet, Bodani said she belonged to an underdeveloped rural area of Sindh, where she witnessed poor struggling to cope with various challenges life throws at them. “They cannot even afford to lodge cases, and that is the reason behind my decision of joining law [studies] so I can bring justice to them,” she was quoted as saying.

After completing her intermediate from her native town Shahdadkot, Bodani persuaded law and acquired Bachelor of Laws (LLB) degree from Hyderabad and Master of Laws (LLM) from Shaheed Zulfikar Ali Bhutto Institute of Science and Technology (SZABIST) in Karachi.

Bodani also said she faced resistance form her own community as they did not like girls working in the law field. However, her family including her father and siblings extended their full support to her. “My family did not pay any heed to what people would say and helped me achieve my goal.”

Last year, Justice Syeda Tahira Safdar made history after becoming the first woman chief justice of a high court in the country.

She was also the first woman appointed as a civil judge in Balochistan and holds the distinction of being the first woman in the province appointed as a judge in the Balochistan High Court.

Riaz Haq said...

#Hindu #Dalit female lawmaker Krishna Kumari chairs #Pakistan Senate on Women’s Day. #WomensDay #DoYouKnowRealPakistan,” https://www.thenews.com.pk/latest/441328-hindu-female-lawmaker-chairs-pakistan-senate-on-womens-day

Pakistan Senate’s first Thari Hindu woman, Krishna Kumari Kolhi on the occasion of International Women’s Day is chairing a session of the Upper House on Friday.


Senator Faisal Javed made the announcement on Twitter of Kohli chairing the session to commemorate the International Women’s Day being celebrated across the globe.

“Chairman Senate of Pakistan decided to make our colleague Krishna Kumari Kohli aka Kishoo Bai to Chair the Senate for today on #WomensDay #DoYouKnowRealPakistan,” he tweeted.

Before starting the session, Kolhi expressed her gratitude for being given the chance: “I consider myself very fortunate today to be sitting on this seat, I salute Pakistan and I salute Pakistan’s people and I am proud to be a Pakistani and only Pakistani.”

The 39-year-old Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) leader hailing from Nagarparkar in the vicinity of Tharparkar became the first one in the senate to have roots from an isolated caste.

Riaz Haq said...

#Pakistan’s First female Inspector General of Police Helena Saeed is #Christian from #Quetta, #Balochistan https://dailytimes.com.pk/374825/pakistans-first-female-aig-helena-saeed/

Helena Saeed has become the first female Additional Inspector General (AIG) of Police in the country. She is the first ever AIG from Quetta- Balochistan and the first to ever make it to this rank from Pakistan. She is the first one to reach flag rank in the history of Police service of Pakistan. Another notable factor is that Helena comes from a Christian background. Currently Helena is the highest ranking female officer of the Police Service of Pakistan. The internet seems to be celebrating the new AIG over her success and everyone seems very proud of her.

Rks said...

Riaz Bhai, you have every reason to be proud of your minorities. But what has been done to save them from your religious leaders kidnapping them and marrying then away forcibly to muslim men. This is a blot on Pakistan. Even IKs order to recover the Hindu girls kidnapped last month is not met with any action. This means minorities should forget they are equals and accept the fact - Some radical mullah will kidnap them. They must resign to the fact. Their daughter is faur game for Muslim men.

Riaz Haq said...

Rks: " But what has been done to save them from your religious leaders kidnapping them and marrying then away forcibly to muslim men."

Please read the following to get a more accurate understanding of this issue:

‘Forced conversions’ of Hindu women to Islam in Pakistan: another perspective

https://theconversation.com/forced-conversions-of-hindu-women-to-islam-in-pakistan-another-perspective-102726?utm_source=twitter&utm_medium=twitterbutton


if we wish to fully understand why these girls disappear, I believe it is crucial to engage with the Hindu community’s patriarchal structures. I believe that behind some cases of forced conversion we actually find a family’s attempt to avoid social stigma.

Rural parts of Sindh (but also other parts in Pakistan) are highly patriarchal and daughters who decide to marry a man of their own choice are frequently a reason for shame.

By labelling an eloped daughter as the victim of a crime, Hindu families avoid ridicule and embarrassment. I base this assumption on my lengthy collaboration with Hindu rights groups in Sindh as well as the study of affidavits taken from Sindhi newspapers (called Qassamu Namo in Sindhi).

Women commission such documents with the help of court clerks. These affidavits are published a few days after the girls have left their families and serve as proof that they had willingly eloped.

I believe that explaining cases of forced conversion with religious zeal, fails to see the complexities behind the economic, social, and political realities of many Pakistani-Hindu women.

This short essay shows the myriad ways in which non-Muslim women are commodified within Pakistan’s patriarchal society. Local influential elites, for example, might utilise religious sentiment as an insidious tool to cover up sexual harassment.


Riaz Haq said...

Hard Times Have #Pakistani Hindus Looking to #India, Where Some Find Only Disappointment. Current migration is because of #Modi’s open appeals to #Hindu identity in India. But lower #caste Hindus have been beaten for drinking water from upper caste well. https://www.nytimes.com/2019/10/05/world/asia/pakistan-hindu-india-modi.html

This is not the Hindu paradise they had crossed the border to join, they said. This is not the India Mr. Modi promised them.


In Pakistan, local officials say the pressure for Hindus to weigh moving to India has not been this great since a wave of sectarian violence led many to migrate in the 1990s, after a Hindu mob in India tore down a 16th-century mosque, the Babri Masjid, leading to retaliatory attacks in Pakistan.

The current migration is because of Mr. Modi’s open appeals to Hindu identity in India, they say, stripping the country of the secular framework it was founded on to give supremacy to their religion.

Since Mr. Modi’s election victory, Pakistani Hindus say they have had an easier time obtaining religious or pilgrimage visas to India, which they can then convert to long-term visas if they seek Indian citizenship.

Though the exact number of Hindu migrants is hard to pin down, indications of a wider push to go to India can be seen in the numbers of those long-term visas. In 2018, the Indian government granted 12,732 long-term visas, compared with 4,712 in 2017, and 2,298 in 2016, according to the Ministry of External Affairs. About 95 percent of long-term visas are granted to Pakistani Hindus, officials say.

Millions of Hindus remained in Pakistan when Britain carved out the state from the subcontinent to create a Muslim homeland at independence in 1947. They were unwilling to abandon their homes and businesses, like the millions of Muslims who ended up on the Indian side during partition, where now about 200 million live.


-----------

Even among Pakistani Hindus who are considering going to India, there are very real reasons to hesitate.

Kumar is one who is torn. Though he was shaken by the recent violence in his hometown, he said he was still reluctant to pick up and leave when the trains start running again. He has said goodbye to neighbors who have migrated to India, only to see them return to Pakistan months or years later, disappointed.

Bhagchand Bheel is one of the disappointed. When he migrated to India in 2014, he was grateful to leave the violence and pressure of Karachi, Pakistan’s commercial hub. He boarded the Thar Express to Zero Point Station, the last stop before the border, where he and his family lugged their bags by foot into India, settling in a camp in the city of Jodhpur.

He was among his people, he thought, and could finally be free. But he is of a lower caste, and when he tried to enter a Hindu temple, he was barred entry by the priest because of it, he said. And when a friend tried to drink from the community water well, he was physically assaulted by upper caste Brahmins who accused him of polluting it.

“In Pakistan, the only thing that matters is if you are Hindu or Muslim,” said Mr. Bheel, whose last name is derived from his tribe. “Because we are Hindus, in Pakistan we were discriminated against. But in India, I face discrimination because I’m a Bheel.”

----------------


Mr. Bheel is wracked by doubt, the same doubt his grandfather had when he chose to keep the family in Pakistan during partition. Did he make the right choice?

He left his home and siblings in Karachi, trading a lucrative job as an administrator of a medical clinic there to live as a migrant in India. His medical diploma, one of the few possessions he brought with him, hangs proudly on a wall, although it is not valid in India. He struggles to make ends meet here.

Riaz Haq said...

In pictures: #Pakistani #Hindu community defy #coronavirus to celebrate #Holi2020 festival across the country. Thousands come out on streets to splash colours while #Muslim friends also join them https://gn24.ae/9897aec3eb00000


LAHORE: Members of Hindu community dancing and throwing colours during their Holi celebrations at Neela Gumbad G Sawami Temple in Lahore.

Holi celebrations in Lahore. Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan has sent his good wishes to the Hindu community on the occasion of their festival of Holi.

Pakistani Hindu celebrate the Holi festival in Karachi on March 9, 2020. Holi, the popular Hindu spring festival of colours is observed in India and across countries at the end of the winter season on the last full moon of the lunar month.

Members of Hindu community dancing and throwing colours during their Holi celebrations in Hyderabad. The festivities mainly happened in Hyderabad, the second largest city of southern province of Sindh. Temples were decorated with colours and special prayers were also offered there for development and prosperity of the country.

Jubilant Hindu community in Hyderabad during Holi celebrations. Holi marks the end of winter and the start of spring. This year, the Hindu community across the globe celebrated the day on March 9.

Riaz Haq said...

First #Hindu pilot in #Pakistan Air Force. Rahul Dev hails from #Tharparkar, the largest district in #Sindh province, where a large population of the Hindu community resides. | Pakistan – Gulf News

https://t.co/T4Wfd0NQZh?amp=1

Rahul Dev hails from Tharparkar, the largest district in Sindh province, where a large population of the Hindu community resides.

All Pakistan Hindu Panchayat Secretary Ravi Dawani expressed happiness over Dev’s appointment. He said many members of the minority community are serving in the civil service as well as the army. Many doctors in the country also belong to the Hindu community. He said that if the government continues to focus on the minorities, then in the coming days many Rahul Devs will be ready to serve the country.

Riaz Haq said...

Most of #Pakistan's #Hindus are of lower caste #untouchables. When they migrate to #India, they face discrimination. They can not enter #Hindu temples, and assaulted for drinking from the community water well. India is no Hindu paradise for them. https://www.nytimes.com/2019/10/05/world/asia/pakistan-hindu-india-modi.html

This is not the Hindu paradise they had crossed the border to join, they said. This is not the India Mr. Modi promised them.

Mr. Bheel is wracked by doubt, the same doubt his grandfather had when he chose to keep the family in Pakistan during partition. Did he make the right choice?

He left his home and siblings in Karachi, trading a lucrative job as an administrator of a medical clinic there to live as a migrant in India. His medical diploma, one of the few possessions he brought with him, hangs proudly on a wall, although it is not valid in India. He struggles to make ends meet here.

“You take these decisions sometimes out of excitement for what your life could be,” Mr. Bheel said, his daughter cuddling beside him on a bench. “Then you arrive and realize it’s much different on the ground.”

Mr. Bheel looked on as his wife struggled to contain rainwater leaking from the ceiling, after a monsoon swiftly obliterated the sunny sky. Eventually she gave up, running out of pots and buckets.

“Maybe this wasn’t the right decision for me,” he said. “But maybe my children will look back and say, ‘My father made the right choice.’”
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Bhagchand Bheel is one of the disappointed. When he migrated to India in 2014, he was grateful to leave the violence and pressure of Karachi, Pakistan’s commercial hub. He boarded the Thar Express to Zero Point Station, the last stop before the border, where he and his family lugged their bags by foot into India, settling in a camp in the city of Jodhpur.

He was among his people, he thought, and could finally be free. But he is of a lower caste, and when he tried to enter a Hindu temple, he was barred entry by the priest because of it, he said. And when a friend tried to drink from the community water well, he was physically assaulted by upper caste Brahmins who accused him of polluting it.

“In Pakistan, the only thing that matters is if you are Hindu or Muslim,” said Mr. Bheel, whose last name is derived from his tribe. “Because we are Hindus, in Pakistan we were discriminated against. But in India, I face discrimination because I’m a Bheel.”


Like many Pakistani Hindus, Mr. Bheel migrated after Mr. Modi came to power in 2014, after a long campaign promoting Hindu nationalism.

Muslims in India say life has gotten progressively harder for them, too. Mr. Modi’s government is accused of turning a blind eye to the scores of Muslim men lynched by Hindu mobs. When an 8-year old Muslim girl was gang raped and killed in Kashmir last year by Hindu men, local police officers allegedly helped cover up the crime.

But despite the discrimination Muslims face in India, they do not tend to migrate to Pakistan in the numbers their Hindu counterparts in Pakistan do. Indian Muslims tend to migrate to the West instead.

In the Al Kausar Nagar migrant camp in Jodhpur, huts made out of thin, wispy branches, like birds’ nests, nestle in clusters, with quilts with vibrant Pakistani tribal designs hanging off their sides.

Bands of Pakistani Hindu women crouch over unfinished quilts, stitching away, hoping to sell them in the market to wealthier Indians. They complain that they receive little government assistance, siphoning what little electricity and water they can off municipal lines, and that the quality of public schooling for their children is not as good as it is in Pakistan, a main source of grievance for the many who migrated to give their children better opportunities.

Riaz Haq said...

‘For the first time, I felt free’: #Pakistan’s #women-led #livestock market in #Sindh. Rural women have always reared animals but excluded from selling them. A new market is changing attitudes. Hundreds of women to trade animals at Marui livestock market https://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2022/jan/20/for-the-first-time-i-felt-free-pakistans-women-led-livestock-market

It is hoped that the market, organised by Tando Allahyar district government and local NGO the Research and Development Foundation (RDF), will encourage more women into the livestock sector. It is part of a six-year Growth for Rural Advancement and Sustainable Progress project to strengthen small-scale agribusinesses and reduce poverty in Sindh and Balochistan provinces, run in partnership with the International Trade Centre and the World Trade Organization.

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In rural provinces, women have always reared animals but are excluded from selling them. A new market is changing attitudes

Global development is supported by
Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation
About this content
Zofeen Ebrahim in Tando Allahyar
Thu 20 Jan 2022 02.00 EST

On Saturday, Rozina Ghulam Mustafa arrived at the market in Tando Allahyar city, Pakistan’s Sindh province, to sell the goats she had raised, milked and fed.

Usually her brother sells the animals, but he sold them too cheaply because he didn’t know their true value. “He has always sold our goats at a much lower price,” she says, standing inside an enclosure with 15 of them.

For Mustafa, joining hundreds of women to trade animals at Marui livestock market – believed to be Pakistan’s first women-led livestock market – was a big moment.

By the afternoon, she had yet to sell any animals, but was unperturbed. “That’s OK; it’s my first time and I will learn how to trade,” she says. “For the first time I felt free, I could make the decision of buying and selling myself.”

Women in rural Pakistan have always reared animals, taking care of nutrition, milking and vaccinations and keeping their barns and sheds clean. But when the time comes for them to be sold, women are excluded. Taking the animals to market is considered a man’s job.

Mustafa’s 65-year-old mother, Rehmat, who accompanied her to the market with Mustafa’s brother, says that when she was younger “it was unthinkable for a woman to come to the market and sell; it was a man’s job”.

“I think this change is in the right direction. If women can rear, women can buy and sell, like men. What is so complicated about it?”

The market is busy. Children run between the animal enclosures and stalls selling homemade ghee (clarified butter), eggs, chickens, animal fodder and ornaments. Other stalls sell food, tea and hand-embroidered women’s clothing. The local government has a stall showcasing veterinary medicines.

Perween Panhwar has just bought her first goat for 19,000 PKR (£80) to start her livestock farm. “When I heard there was a women-led livestock market, I wanted the first animal I buy for the farm to be from this market,” she says.


Riaz Haq said...

For a long time we have known that improved transport accessibility leads to more opportunities and better lives.

ANDREW DABALENSHOMIK MEHNDIRATTA|JANUARY 24, 2022

https://blogs.worldbank.org/transport/knowledge-action-new-way-maximize-impact-rural-roads

Accessibility describes how easy (or difficult) it is for people to reach services and opportunities. When you look at the data, significant accessibility gaps persist around the world. Globally 51% of individuals living in low-income countries reside within an hour of a city compared to 91% of individuals in high-income countries. This limited access to urban centers hinders rural populations from accessing services and opportunities, including healthcare, education, jobs, and markets. Gender plays an important role as well: as these findings from Pakistan illustrate, women typically must cover greater distances to reach basic services. Even for people living in cities, accessibility may vary depending on the availability of public transport, the impact of traffic congestion.

Lack of access is systematically linked to inferior development outcomes, even more so if motorized transport is not available. The inability to travel to healthcare facilities, for instance, has been associated with increased mortality and morbidity from treatable conditions. Conversely, improved access is often synonymous with improved development outcomes. For example, women with access to roads in Pakistan are twice more likely (14% vs 28%) to go to pre-natal consultations. In rural Morocco, girls’ enrollment in primary schools increased from 17% to 54% when their access to roads improved.

Looking particularly at rural roads investments, the construction of a new road can lead to a chain of positive impacts. When a rural community gets connected to the road network, people who could not reach healthcare, schools, or other essential services before are suddenly able to do so. Workers can access more and better jobs. Farmers can sell their products in more distant markets. But these outcomes can only materialize if rural road projects are carefully planned and prioritized. Also, while investments in road networks are often a critical first step toward enhancing accessibility, they should be integrated into a broader investment package targeting social and technological development overall.

However, transforming this knowledge into action had been hard to operationalize. Lack of data regarding the transport network, opportunities, limited computing power to calculate travel times in large areas and lack of consistent framework had made it hard for us to take this academic research into an operational reality. We needed to understand exactly which transport projects will have the highest impact on accessibility? How would this accessibility transform into household welfare? And how do we create tools to inform planning and investment decisions?

To address these questions, the World Bank’s Transport and Poverty and Equity teams jointly developed a new framework that relies on high-resolution mapping and other sophisticated analytical tools to provide a more granular view of how rural road infrastructure can benefit communities.

We are now able to deploy all that knowledge into operational action, by developing an analytical framework that highlights spatial disparities in access to services and opportunities, calculates the expected gains in accessibility from investments into road infrastructure and thereby informs the placement of transport investments throughout the region.

Riaz Haq said...

Seeing the rural Sindh through the lens of ‘Guddu Pakistani’
His biggest accomplishment is to show the Sindh that needs to be seen and known

https://gulfnews.com/world/asia/pakistan/seeing-the-rural-sindh-through-the-lens-of-guddu-pakistani-1.86725862

Islamabad: Brimming with energy and colours, the landscape, culture and people of rural Sindh fascinate in a way that few places do.

Sindh feels like seeing life through a kaleidoscope when viewed from the lens of duEmmanuel Gud – the photographer who captures the heart and soul of the region, showing to the world that life in rural Sindh is not as dull and dusty as generally assumed.

“My photographs are changing the perception of Sindh, showing the vivacious culture, simple people and stunning architecture of my beautiful home region,” said Emmanuel Guddu in an interview with Gulf News. The 42-year-old freelance photographer hails from Sindh’s Mirpur Khas city, best known for its delicious mangoes.

Emmanuel, who is famously known as ‘Guddu Pakistani’ on social media, says that his biggest accomplishment is to show the Sindh that needs to be seen and known. “I can think of no greater honour nor privilege than knowing that I have lived a life, creating images, sharing the stories and struggles of the incredible people of Sindh, the culture of the beautiful land I call home,” he shared during the interview.

The photos sometimes are surprising not just for foreigners and residents of other regions of Pakistan but even the people of Sindh themselves as not many locals travel outside their hometowns, he says. Emmanuel calls himself the ‘Awara (wandering) photographer’. “Photographers are passionate people who are willing to go to any length to share their passion with people,” he believes.


What inspired him?
Born as a Catholic Christian, he belongs to the Kachhi Kolhi Hindu community in Sindh. He found his inspiration early from National Geographic magazines in which the pictures of the cultural and historic sites and vibrant communities moved him. “Those photos inspired me and I decided I will also show to the world the unique culture of my land.”

Personal life and photography career
Emmanuel, who is the eldest among his siblings, wasn’t able to continue education after 10th grade as he was expected to start working to support his family. Remembering the tough days, he shared that his father worked at the community church and his mother as a seamstress, struggling to put food on the table and raise the family. Later, the family sent Emmanuel to Lahore to become a priest at a church where his maternal uncle served as the priest. But that is not where he was meant to be.

Emmanuel’s professional photography career started in 2010 when he went to capture the impact of the 2010 floods, the worst in Pakistan’s history that submerged entire towns. “Some of the portraits of flood survivors in Sindh and the enormity of the floodwater that I captured went viral,” he shared. It was then that Emmanuel knew he had found something he wanted to passionately pursue: photography.

Stories behind the photographs
His brilliant and breathtaking photographs reveal that Pakistan’s province of Sindh is home to fascinating architecture and shrines, majestic deserts and lakes, rural tattooed women, exquisite pottery and handicrafts, mud and straw houses, unique traditional food and beautiful birds.

In one photograph taken in Tharparkar, a woman in her traditional, vivid red dress, is seen feeding her brilliant blue peacock. The image is among his favourite. “This photo captures the pure human-animal relation. This bond is strong in Sindh.”

Many of his pictures capture the rural women of Sindh, working in the farms and at their homes, in their bright traditional dresses, faces hidden behind the veils and wearing white bangles from wrist to the entire length of their arm. “Our women have tattoos on their faces, necks, hands and even on foot,” he shared. It is this unique rural culture and heritage that he aims to show through his photographs and videos.

Riaz Haq said...

‘Forced conversions’ of Hindu women to Islam in Pakistan: another perspective

https://theconversation.com/forced-conversions-of-hindu-women-to-islam-in-pakistan-another-perspective-102726

Let’s look at the public discourse around forced marriage (Urd. jabri shadi) or forced conversion (Urd. jabran mazhab tabdili) in Pakistan (but also internationally). Here we frequently find one out of two possible explanations: first that Hindu women wish to embrace Islam due to its inherent attraction (put forward by the Muslim religious right).


The second one emphasised by liberal Pakistani media and Hindu nationalists is that that Muslim predators aim to spread Islam through the forced conversion and marriage of minority women.

But nuanced explanations taking into account Hindu women’s agencies are difficult to find.

The case of Rinkle Kumari, a Hindu girl from Ghotki in northern Sindh, who vanished from her home in 2012 serves as an apt example. Even though her case gained significant public attention, it is still not completely clear why and how Rinkle disappeared. Rinkle gave a few public statements, these, however, were alternately interpreted as coerced by her kidnappers or pressurised by her family. Even though Rinkle talked publicly, her words had no impact on the male-dominated public discussion.

Engaging with Hindu patriarchal structures
Finally, if we wish to fully understand why these girls disappear, I believe it is crucial to engage with the Hindu community’s patriarchal structures. I believe that behind some cases of forced conversion we actually find a family’s attempt to avoid social stigma.

Rural parts of Sindh (but also other parts in Pakistan) are highly patriarchal and daughters who decide to marry a man of their own choice are frequently a reason for shame.

By labelling an eloped daughter as the victim of a crime, Hindu families avoid ridicule and embarrassment. I base this assumption on my lengthy collaboration with Hindu rights groups in Sindh as well as the study of affidavits taken from Sindhi newspapers (called Qassamu Namo in Sindhi).