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'Indian Government is like the three monkeys'


ADITYA RAJ KAUL | New Delhi, September 14, 2012 11:47
Tags : Gopalaswami Parthasarathy INTERVIEW | PAK HINDUS | FORCED CONVERSIONS |

Ambassador Gopalaswami Parthasarathy, who was India’s Consular General in Pakistan in the early 1980sand most recently as the High Commissioner from 1998-2000, feels  there is a growing sense of Wahabi radicalisation taking roots in Pakistan which as a result has led to the fear psychosis among its minority communities.

In a candid interaction with Aditya Raj Kaul, Ambassador Parthasarathy admits that India has remained silent to the increasing atrocities taking place in Pakistan.

There has been a significant rise in the influx of Hindus from Pakistan into India in the recent months. As a close Indo-Pak observer, what do you think are the immediate reasons for the same?
There are about 25 forced conversions and marriages of young Hindu girls in Sindh every month. It’s in police records. The reason being is growing radicalism and intolerance. Radicalization is basically to Wahabi Islam and it’s not just the Hindus at the receiving end. You see the Christian girl who was accused of blasphemy. Many such cases have been reported. There have been violent Shia-Sunni clashes in Gilgit, Karachi and of course in Balochistan where Shias have been picked from buses and slaughtered. Even the Ahmediyas are not allowed to build a building which is akin to a mosque. Their graves are being desecrated and all Islamic writings on their graves are being rubbed off. This is the general intolerance. Hindus, mostly in Sindh, are insemi-rural or rural areas. A good number of them are haris or farm workers who are vulnerable.

It isn’t just the Hindus; even minor Christians in the recent days were arrested under draconian laws. Do you think Pakistan as a state has failed to protect its minorities and there is a growing sense of fear psychosis?
Yes, certainly. Even if you take Sufi Barelvi Muslims who are Sunni, they are being targeted. As I said, it’s growing Wahabi radicalization and intolerance.

India does not have a clear refugee policy like many western states. Should India grant asylum to the Hindus from Pakistan?
Look, we’ve granted citizenship to nine million Bangladeshis, both Hindus and the Muslims. A de facto situation exists where people who come across, find asylum. I think Hindus are vulnerable. Let us face it; Pakistan was set up to separate Muslims from Hindus and if people are forced across the border from there, you must give them asylum. In any case, they can always apply for citizenship, though it’s a cumbersome process which takes about minimum five years.

Do you think the boiling issue of Hindus in Pakistanwas ignored during the recent foreign minister level talks?
Well, I would certainly say that, we should have raised this issue and said this is happening. The problem with that is they will stop giving these fellows even passports. Pakistan will no doubt take steps to see that people don’t cross the border. They’ve been left with no options. Rehman Malik arbitrarily stopped a group from coming or delayed their departure. My view is that we should get NGOs from across the world and Hindu organisations across the world to highlight this issue and get Pakistan disgraced. It should be a common cause with Christian organisations, Shia organisations and any person who feels persecuted in Pakistan. Be it Shia, Ahmediya or whatever. Now, will this succeed? Will Pakistan be disgraced internationally? The governments alone can’t do that but governments should have a policy of associating NGOs to do it. The problem with our so called secular NGOs is that they think they’re no longer secular if they take up a Hindu cause.

The persecution and atrocities aren’t new, what was it like during your tenure as the Indian High Commissioner to Pakistan?
In the 1980s, even in the Zia’s regime, Hindus lived with a sense of apprehension.  But, never of insecurity and persecution as they’re feeling now. So, things have changed for the worse since my stay in Pakistan in the 1980s when I was Consular General in Karachi. I did run across a large number of Hindus, we visited their shrines and temples. But, our government is like the three monkeys, likes to see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil.

How do you see the India-Pakistan relations shaping in the present context?
Pakistan is under immense pressure from the Americans. It is under pressure on its western borders. It’s going bankrupt. Its economy is declining. Tactically it seems to be in advantage towards normalization with India. But I would take it with a pinch of salt unless I’m persuaded that their infrastructure of terrorism is being dismantled and that is not happening. I wouldn’t describe India’s approach as soft or hard, the approach of promoting people-to-people contact, trade and confidence building measures is all very good. As a neighbour you can’t pretend that it doesn’t exist. But conveying the impression that you’ve forgotten about 26/11, downgrading its importance is dangerous. It’ll only encourage more 26/11s.

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Posted By: Sana Zabeen | Mumbai, India | September 14th 2012 | 18:09
What made you write something about Pakistan? When there are gazillion things happening in India?

Issue Dated: Feb 5, 2017