KARACHI: Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf chairman Imran Khan has condemned the incidents of forced conversion of Hindu girls in Sindh and said that such incidents were against the spirit of Islam.

Mr Khan said this while addressing a programme held to celebrate Diwali on Tuesday.

He said that Islam did not allow anyone to force a non-Muslim to become a Muslim. “It is against our religion. PTI considers this a crime and anti-Islam act.”

Quoting the historic speech by Quaid-i-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah in which he assured the minorities of equal rights in Pakistan, the PTI chief said that Islam spread across the globe only because of the teachings of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) and Sufi saints who had never converted anyone to Islam by force.

He said it was unfortunate that certain extremists had been indulging in the “un-Islamic practice” of forced conversion.

He promised that if voted to power, the PTI government would provide equal rights to all minorities and rid them of “repression and mafias”.

He said weaker classes in the country found themselves helpless before powerful and influential people.

Mr Khan said that the weaker classes suffered the most in Sindh than in any other part of the country because there was no rule of law. “They [people in Sindh] don’t even have medical treatment and water to drink. The PTI government will support the weak sections of the society.”

Earlier, he extended greetings to the Hindu community for Diwali festivities and also cut a cake.

PTI MNA Laal Malhi and others received and presented him a bouquet, Sindhi cap and ajrak.

‘Zardari mafia biggest problem in Sindh’

Talking to media, Mr Khan said that Sindh had vast resources and all problems of its people would have been solved if, instead of imposing cronies who serve PPP co-chairman Asif Zardari, merit-based appointments were made.

He said he tried to understand the issues and sufferings of the people of Sindh and reached the conclusion that “the biggest problem in Sindh was Asif Zardari mafia and patronising of criminals by the people in power”.

Mr Khan said that farmers were not getting their due rights and were being kept under threat by depriving them of water if they would not support Zardari’s nominees in the elections.

The former cricketer said he had learnt “a specific swing for taking Zardari’s wicket”.

“My eyes are on Zardari’s middle stump and it would not take time to knock him out,” he said.

The PTI chief said that entire Pakistan was appreciating the arrest of former information minister Sharjeel Memon.

He said opening of the investigation into alleged corruption in the Multan metro bus service was a good step as Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif was involved in the project and “now all eyes are on NAB whose chairman’s performance till today augurs well”.

In reply to a question, he said there was need to have dialogue on the judicious distribution of water among provinces as a severe water crisis was hovering over the country.

About the Election Commission of Pakistan’s decision about the assembly membership of disgruntled PTI MNA Ayesha Gulalai, he said that the decision that allowed her to retain the assembly seat was against the Constitution.

“We are studying the case as Gulalai herself announced her parting ways from the party and [she] also violated the principles of the party,” he said. “We expect that the Election Commission would decide the issue on merit and not against the PTI.”

Published in Dawn, October 25th, 2017