Fawad reacts to Sushma’s remarks on ‘forced conversion’ of Hindu sisters


–Sushma seeks report from Indian high commissioner in Pakistan over alleged abduction of Ghotki sisters 

–It is Pakistan’s internal issue, says info minister

Federal Minister for Information Fawad Chaudhry and Sushma Swaraj exchanged barbs on Sunday after India’s external affairs minister shared that she had asked the Indian high commissioner in Pakistan to give her a report on the alleged abduction and forced conversion of two minor Hindu girls from Ghotki.

Fawad, responding to Sushma, said that it was Pakistan’s internal matter, hoping that the Indian government would “act with same diligence when it comes to rights of Indian minorities”.

“It is Pakistan’s internal issue and rest assure[d], it’s not Modi’s India where minorities are subjugated,” Fawad said. “It’s Imran Khan’s Naya Pak where the white colour of our flag [representing minorities] is equally dear to us.”

At this, Sushma said her inquiry for a report on the girls — who belong to a Hindu family — made the Pakistani minister “jittery”. “I only asked for a report from Indian High Commissioner in Islamabad about the kidnapping and forced conversion of two minor Hindu girls to Islam. This was enough to make you jittery. This only shows your guilty conscience.”

In his reply, Fawad said he was “happy” that there were people in the Indian administration “who care for minority rights in other countries”.

“I sincerely hope that your conscience will allow you to stand up for minorities at home as well. Gujarat and Jammu must weigh heavily on your soul,” Fawad said.

The info minister, later in a press conference, maintained that PM Imran Khan-led government was ensuring the rights and protection of the country’s minorities, questioning if the Indian government could claim the same.

He added that incidents happen all over the world, but what matters is how governments deal with them, giving the example of the recent New Zealand terror attack and its Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, who has been praised for her government’s humane handling of the massacre.

“We saw the way New Zealand’s government stood with their minority. Can India say that it stands with its minorities?” he asked.

Earlier on Sunday, the info minister announced that PM Imran Khan had ordered the Sindh and Punjab governments to work together to investigate the reports of the alleged abduction and forced conversion from Hinduism to Islam of two teenage girls, and to retrieve them from Rahim Yar Khan — where they are suspected to have been taken from Ghotki.

The girls’ father and brother — one aged 14 and the other 16 — have alleged that the two Hindu sisters were abducted and forced into changing their religion to Islam. However, in a viral video, the girls claim that they accepted Islam out of free will.

The minor Hindu girls were married to Muslim men after changing their religion. “FIR [registered] with local police for ‘abducting to compel to marriage’. Age in FIR is 14 and 16,” said human rights lawyer Jibran Nasir. “Under Sindh Child Marriages Restraint Act, every citizen under 18 falls under definition of child and can’t be married.”