At least 1,000 Hindus living in Pakistan’s Sindh province were reportedly coerced into embracing Islam on August 19 with the support of the state. The incident occurred in the Badin region of Sindh, specifically in the Keti area. Clerics sponsored by Maulana Khan Muhammad Pathan, the head of Jamiat Ulema in Badin, were responsible for the program.
According to sources familiar with the development, the ceremony was attended by Mohammad Shamroz Khan, the son of Pakistan senator and minister of religious affairs Muhammad Talha Mahmood. Khan claimed that the conversions were voluntary, despite Hindu activists in the country stating otherwise.
Hindu activists have pointed out that the cleric took advantage of the poverty and deprivation faced by the community and used it to lure them into converting to Islam. The state machinery allegedly supported this effort, with food ration and houses being distributed to the newly converted Hindus. The neo-converts were also promised medical assistance and education for their children.
However, sources mentioned above revealed that instead of receiving modern education, the new converts would be taught basic knowledge of the Quran and Namaz (prayers) over a three-month period under the supervision of Maulana Khan Muhammad Pathan. The mosque would provide them with ration and medical facilities. Pathan stated that he would ensure that the converts followed all Islamic practices, including performing prayers five times a day. Once their education was complete, the men would be provided with regular jobs based on their skills.
The forced conversions of Hindus in Sindh have raised serious concerns among Hindu activists. Faqir Shiva Kucchi, a Hindu activist, criticized the involvement of the federal minister’s son in the conversions. He expressed helplessness and emphasized the urgent need for measures to stop this issue.
Financial constraints have been cited as one of the reasons Hindus in Sindh are being forced to convert to Islam. In July 2021, over 50 Hindu laborers were coerced into converting by a landlord, who threatened them and promised protection and support if they embraced Islam. Instances of forced conversions in Pakistan are alarmingly common, highlighting the failure of Islamabad to protect religious minorities. These incidents occur amidst ongoing religious tensions, including the recent attack on the Christian community in Jaranwala.
Sindh is home to the largest Hindu population in Pakistan, making the issue of forced conversions a significant concern for minority communities in the region.