Hinduism in Pakistan
2.5–4.5 million (2005) |
1.6–1.85% of the Pakistani population
|Regions with significant populations|
|Predominantly Sindh with minorities in Balochistan, Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa|
|Predominantly Sindhi • with small minorities of: Punjabi and English|
Pakistani Hindus are Hindus of full or partial Pakistani descent, constituting approximately 2% of Pakistan's population. Hinduism is the second largest religion in Pakistan after Islam, according to the 1998 Census. As of 2010, Pakistan had the fifth largest Hindu population in the world and PEW predicts that by 2050 Pakistan will have the fourth largest Hindu population in the world.
In the 1998 Census the Hindu (jati) population was found to be 2,111,271 while the Hindu (scheduled castes) numbered an additional 332.343. Hindus are found in all provinces of Pakistan but are mostly concentrated in Sindh. They speak a variety of languages such as Sindhi, Seraiki, Aer, Dhatki, Gera, Goaria, Gurgula, Jandavra, Kabutra, Koli, Loarki, Marwari, Sansi and Vaghri.
After Pakistan gained independence from Britain on 14 August 1947, 4.7 million of the West Pakistan's Hindus and Sikhs migrated to India while 6.5 million Muslims moved from India to live in West Pakistan.
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Various archaeological finds such as the swastika symbol, yogic postures, what appears to be like a "Pasupati" image that was found on the seals of the people of Mohenjo-daro, in Sindh, point to early influences that may have shaped Hinduism. The religious beliefs and folklore of the Indus valley people have become a major part of the Hindu faith that evolved in this part of the South Asia. The Sindh kingdom and its rulers play an important role in the Indian epic story of the Mahabharata. In addition, there is the legend that the Pakistani city of Lahore was first founded by Lava, while Kasur was founded by his twin Kusha, both of whom were the sons of Rama of the Ramayana. The Gandhara kingdom of the northwest, and the legendary Gandhara peoples, are also a major part of Hindu literature such as the Ramayana and the Mahabharata. Most Pakistani city names (such as Peshawar and Multan) can be traced back to Sanskrit roots.
After Pakistan gained independence from Britain on 14 August 1947, 4.7 million of the country's Hindus and Sikhs migrated to India, while 6.5 million Muslims migrated from India to Pakistan. The 1998 census of Pakistan recorded less than 2.5 million Hindus. The overwhelming majority of Hindus in Pakistan are concentrated in Sindh province.
In 1951, Hindus constituted 12.9% of the Pakistani population (this includes East Pakistan, modern day Bangladesh), which made the Dominion of Pakistan the second largest Hindu-population country after India.
In the 1951 census, West Pakistan had 1.6% Hindu population, while East Pakistan (modern Bangladesh) had 22.05%. By 1997, the percentage of Hindus remained stable at 1.6% in Pakistan, while it dropped to 10.2% in Bangladesh.
According to the 1998 Pakistan Census, caste Hindus constitute about 1.6 percent of the total population of Pakistan and about 6.6% in the Sindh province. The Pakistan Census separates Schedule Castes from the main body of Hindus who make up a further 0.25% of the national population.
Based on the 1998 Census as well as stabilization of Pakistan's Hindu population since then, Pakistan would, today, have roughly 3 million Hindus.
Hinduism and independence
At the time of Pakistan's creation the 'hostage theory' had been espoused. According to this theory Hindu minorities in Pakistan were to be given a fair deal in Pakistan in order to ensure the protection of the Muslim minority in India. However, Khawaja Nazimuddin, 2nd Prime Minister of Pakistan stated: “I do not agree that religion is a private affair of the individual nor do I agree that in an Islamic state every citizen has identical rights, no matter what his caste, creed or faith be".
After the independence of Pakistan in 1947, over 4.7 million Hindus and Sikhs from West Pakistan left for India, and a similar number of Muslims chose to migrate to Pakistan. The reasons for this exodus were the heavily charged communal atmosphere in British Raj, deep distrust of each other, the brutality of violent mobs and the antagonism between the religious communities. That over 1 million people lost their lives in the bloody violence of 1947, should attest to the fear and hate that filled the hearts of millions of Hindus, Muslims and Sikhs who left ancestral homes hastily after independence.
Many Hindus who attained great success in India, like the film stars and directors Dev Anand, Raj Kapoor, Ramesh Sippy, Vinod Khanna, Manoj Kumar, Yash Chopra, Balraj Sahni, Rajendra Kumar and Sunil Dutt, trace their birthplaces and ancestral homes to the towns of Pakistan. Independent India's first Test cricket captain, Lala Amarnath, hailed from Lahore, prime ministers I K Gujral and Manmohan Singh are also from the part of the Punjab which became part of Pakistan, and former deputy prime minister Lal Krishna Advani was born in Karachi. Nearly all of these individuals left their homes due to the violence and turmoil during the independence.
Religious, social and political institutions
The Indus river is a holy river to many Hindus, and the Government of Pakistan periodically allows small groups of Hindus from Pakistan and India to make pilgrimage, though most Hindus are forced to do this along the banks of the river that flows through a small part of Kashmir in India.
The communal violence of the 1940s and the subsequent persecutions have resulted in the destruction of many Hindu temples in Pakistan, although the Hindu community and the Government of Pakistan have preserved and protected many prominent ones. The Hindu Gymkhana in Karachi has tried to promote social development for Hindus in the city. One of the few temples remaining in Karachi today is the Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, Karachi.
Hindus are allotted separate electorates to vote and seats in the provincial assemblies, National Assembly and the Senate. The Pakistan Hindu Panchayat and the Pakistani Hindu Welfare Association are the primary civic organizations that represent and organise Hindu communities on social, economic, religious and political issues in most of the country, with the exception of the Shiv Temple Society of Hazara, which especially represents community interests in the Hazara region of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, in addition to being the special guardians of the Shiva temple, at Chitti Gatti village, near Mansehra. There are minority commissions and for a while, a Ministry of Minority Affairs in the Government of Pakistan looked after specific issues concerning Pakistani religious minorities.
On 9 February, a parliamentary panel approved the Hindu Marriage Bill after decades of inaction. The bill paves the way for regulations on registration of marriages and divorce for Hindus and fixes the minimum marrying age for males and females at 18 years-old. On 26 September, the bill was passed by the Parliament of Pakistan.
Karachi's city culture allows for a secular environment, providing opportunities to Hindu minorities. Though Islamisation has swept the country since the 1980s, the secular institutions established during British rule allow Hindus to take advantage of education, sports, cultural activities, and government services, and participate in mainstream Pakistani life. Prominent Pakistani Hindus include Pakistani cricketer Danish Kaneria, fashion designer Deepak Perwani, and former Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Pakistan Rana Bhagwandas..
Decline and persecution
There has been historical decline of Hinduism, Buddhism and Sikhism in the areas of Pakistan. This happened for a variety of reasons even as these religions have continued to flourish beyond the eastern frontiers of Pakistan. The region became predominantly Muslim during the rule of Delhi Sultanate and later Mughal Empire due to the missionary Sufi saints whose dargahs dot the landscape of Pakistan and the rest of South Asia. The predominantly Muslim population supported Muslim League and Pakistan Movement. After the independence of Pakistan in 1947, the minority Hindus and Sikhs migrated to India while the Muslims refugees from India migrated to Pakistan. Approximately 6 million Hindus and Sikhs moved to India while a nearly equal number of Muslims settled in Pakistan. Some Hindus in Pakistan feel that they are treated as second-class citizens and many have migrated to India.
Those Pakistani Hindus who have migrated to India allege that Hindu girls are sexually harassed in Pakistani schools (though this seems like completely vague accusation because most of girls schools and colleges are only for girls with no entry for boys), adding that Hindu students are made to read the Quran (though in all schools in Pakistan, non-Muslim students are given the choice to study ethics in lieu of Islamic studies) and their religious practices are mocked. The Indian government is planning to issue Aadhaar cards and PAN cards to Pakistani Hindu refugees, and simplifying the process by which they can acquire Indian citizenship.
The rise of Taliban insurgency in Pakistan has been an influential and increasing factor in the persecution of and discrimination against religious minorities in Pakistan, such as Hindus, Christians, Sikhs, and other minorities. It is said that there is persecution of religious minorities in Pakistan.
In July 2010, around 60 members of the minority Hindu community in Karachi were attacked and evicted from their homes following an incident of a Dalit Hindu youth drinking water from a tap near an Islamic Mosque. In January 2014, a policeman standing guard outside a Hindu temple at Peshawar was gunned down. Pakistan's Supreme Court has sought a report from the government on its efforts to ensure access for the minority Hindu community to temples - the Karachi bench of the apex court was hearing applications against the alleged denial of access to the members of the minority community.
Pakistan Studies curriculum issues
According to the Sustainable Development Policy Institute report, "Associated with the insistence on the Ideology of Pakistan has been an essential component of hate against India and the Hindus. For the upholders of the Ideology of Pakistan, the existence of Pakistan is defined only in relation to Hindus, and hence the Hindus have to be painted as negatively as possible". A 2005 report by the National Commission for Justice and Peace, a non-profit organization in Pakistan, found that Pakistan Studies textbooks in Pakistan have been used to articulate the hatred that Pakistani policy-makers have attempted to inculcate towards the Hindus. "Vituperative animosities legitimise military and autocratic rule, nurturing a siege mentality. Pakistan Studies textbooks are an active site to represent India as a hostile neighbour", the report stated. 'The story of Pakistan’s past is intentionally written to be distinct from, and often in direct contrast with, interpretations of history found in India. From the government-issued textbooks, students are taught that Hindus are backward and superstitious.' Further the report stated "Textbooks reflect intentional obfuscation. Today’s students, citizens of Pakistan and its future leaders are the victims of these partial truths".
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