OPED | Wednesday, April 8, 2009 | Email | Print |
The death throes of minority Hindus
Ethnic cleansing of Hindus in Pakistan and Bangladesh continues unabated, writes Richard L Benkin
just returned from India after a month during which time an incredible
number of significant events were occurring. My primary mission in
going was to document and raise awareness of the ethnic cleansing of
Bangladeshi Hindus. I found plenty, including evidence of ongoing
attacks on them both in Bangladesh and in West Bengal, India. The
border between the two is so porous that terrorists and contraband move
freely with and without the help of India’s Border Security Force or
West Bengal Police. But I also witnessed the tragic beginning of the
end for Pakistan’s Hindus. Once one in five Pakistanis, they have been
reduced to one per cent of the population.
But as the Taliban
take over ever larger chunks of that country, that remnant of a people
is streaming across the border into Indian Punjab. The stream became a
torrent with the Taliban’s seizure of the Swat Valley earlier this
year. Hindu refugees report attacks and threats by the Taliban, as well
as officials telling them to leave the country “or else...” The
February agreement between the Taliban and the Asif Ali Zardari
Government in Pakistan ceded the area to the former and allowed Sharia’h law to be imposed on Swat’s 1.2 million inhabitants.
President Barack Obama has used this agreement as a model in his stated
quest for “moderate Taliban.” But not only does the agreement
countersign ethnic cleansing, it also failed even before Mr Obama’s
anticipated speech on US policy in the region. Just hours before the
President spoke, one of the Taliban parties to the agreement, the
Tehrik e Taliban, abrogated it with a terror attack on a mosque in
Pakistan’s North-West Frontier Province, and has engaged in other
terrorist attacks subsequently.
One Hindi news channel quoted
a Taliban spokesman confirming that his group was pulling out of the
agreement not to attack elsewhere in Pakistan because, he said, it
would be contrary to Allah’s wishes to limit Sharia’h to the Swat Valley. Yet, no major media in India, the US, or elsewhere made this connection.
more shameful, no media or Government has protested the ethnic
cleansing of Pakistan’s Hindus, who are being finished off by the
Taliban. All Governments involved in the region are just allowing it to
happen, too. What kind of a world do we live in when India will not
defend Hindus attacked for being Hindus; when the US ignores the
atrocity; when not a single human rights group or the UN utters a word
What is happening to Pakistan’s Hindus is a crime,
but a crime that is largely accomplished. There remain 13,000,000
Hindus in Bangladesh subject to the same attacks, the same racist laws,
and the same intention to eradicate them. Worse, the battle is spilling
across the open border into India, and it is changing the security
arrangements between the two countries, the demographic balance, and
continuing the ethnic cleansing there, too. It is also allowing
terrorists into the country whose intention is to undermine the very
nation of Hindustan.
My mission is to prevent that, to prevent
the murders and other atrocities, even if I am the only voice of
protest to cry out about this crime against humanity.
-- The writer is an American Jewish human rights activist.
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