After civil society protests in Pakistan over the abduction and forced conversion and marriage of two underage Hindu girls in Sindh recently, the Indian government swung into action, with external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj sending a “note verbale” — the lowest level of diplomatic communication — to Pakistan to take “remedial” measures.
Not unexpectedly, this led to a Twitter spat with Pakistan information minister Chaudhry Fawad Hussain jumping in to remind New Delhi of the condition of India’s minorities, saying the minorities were “subjugated” in India. He didn’t fail to remind New Delhi that this was an internal matter of Pakistan, and the Imran Khan government had begun to get the matter investigated.
Both sides are evidently seeking to score propaganda points. With the Lok Sabha polls nearing, the government is trying to give the impression that it’s a protector of Hindu interests. In the ordinary way, an issue like the one which surfaced in Sindh could have been dealt with at the Indian high commission level in Islamabad.
Fortunately, In India, a democracy, the minorities have equal rights that are protected by the courts when transgressions take place, though it’s true that of late these have become fairly common. Pakistan, on the other hand, is a self-acknowledged Islamic state. Christian and Hindu minorities are routinely subjected to harassment by fanatical or political elements determined to make a statement. The Hindu minorities sometimes pay the price of poor India-Pakistan relations, as at present. However, in some pockets of Pakistan, friction is fairly routine. Fortunately, civil society shows enlightenment in both countries.