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Sindh Assembly urged to reject forced conversion bill

Updated April 30, 2019

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After almost a month of the submission of a bill in the Sindh Assembly against forced conversions, various religious and religio-political outfits sat together on Monday to voice against it. — AFP/File
After almost a month of the submission of a bill in the Sindh Assembly against forced conversions, various religious and religio-political outfits sat together on Monday to voice against it. — AFP/File

LAHORE: After almost a month of the submission of a bill in the Sindh Assembly against forced conversions, various religious and religio-political outfits sat together on Monday to voice against it.

A joint declaration issued after the sitting announced a countrywide protest on Friday (May 3) and threatened of a vigorous protest campaign if the bill was passed by the provincial house.

Admitting that forced conversions were wrong, it said forcibly preventing someone from embracing Islam was also against the Shariah.

Read: Sindh Assembly adopts bill against forced religious conversions

Chaired by Pir Mian Abdul Khaliq of Bharchoondi Sharif and organised by the Khatme Nabuwat Alliance and Tanzeem Ittehad-i-Ummat Pakistan, the sitting alleged that in the name of protecting minorities’ rights, the Sindh government was creating hurdles in the way of willful conversions.

They said they would write protest letters to the president, prime minister, Sindh governor and chief minister as well as members of the Sindh Assembly on the issue.

Prominent among those in attendance included Milli Yakjehti Council and JUP president Abul Khair Zubair, Jamaat-i-Islami’s Liaquat Baloch, Sunni Ittehad Council’s Hamid Raza, Jamaat Ahle Sunnat’s Pir Irfan Mashahdi, Jamia Naeemia’s Dr Raghib Naeemi, Tehreek-i-Istiqlal’s Rehmat Khan Wardag, Qari Zawwar Bahadur, Supreme Court Bar vice-president Malik Karamat Awan, Ziaul Haq Naqshbandi and Pir Mehfooz Mashahdi.

Alluding to holding the meeting in Punjab about the Sindh Assembly bill, Mr Wardag suggested that such a multi-party conference be organised in Karachi first before the issue was taken to other provinces.

Mr Baloch urged PPP leaders Asif Zardari and Bilawal Bhutto to play their role in blocking the bill as their party ruled the Sindh province.

The Sindh Assembly passed the bill moved by PML-F lawmaker Nand Kumar against forced conversion in November 2016 but the then PPP-led Sindh government asked then governor retired Justice Saeeduz Zaman Siddiqui not to ratify and send it back for reconsideration following concerns shown by some religious quarters.

The bill was, however, never re-assessed or discussed in the assembly, despite the ruling party counted it among its achievements towards safeguarding minorities’ rights.

Mr Kumar also tabled the new bill on April 5 titled Criminal Law (Protection of Minorities) Act of 2019.

Published in Dawn, April 30th, 2019