Danish Kaneria row: Plight of Hindus in Pakistan

Shoaib Akhtar has opened a can of worms, nay, a Pandora's box by claiming that his Hindu teammate Danish (actually Dinesh) Prabha Shankar Kaneria faced discrimination by his Muslim teammates, who even refused to share food with the Hindu leg spinner, who played in 61 tests for Pakistan and is the second Pakistani Hindu, after his cousin Anil Dalpat, to have played for Pakistan. Kaneria's case is quintessence of the bigoted religious (read Islam) atmosphere of Pakistan.

Having taught Islam and Semitic tongues at Pakistan's premier varsities and received PhD on Muhammad Rafi from Lahore University and M Phil degree on Raghupati Sahay 'Firaq' Gorakhpuri's (homosexual) poetry from Karachi University, I observed the rabid prejudice and rank discrimination against the minorities, especially the Hindus who actually live at the mercy of Pakistani Muslims. Minorities and followers of other faiths are always second class citizens in an Islamic countries with their freedom considerably crushed and curbed. Hindus comprised 1.85% of Pakistan's population according to the 1998 census, as stated in Wikipedia. Currently there are around 8 million Hindus living in Pakistan, comprising 4% of Pakistani population as recorded by the Pakistan Hindu Council. Most of the Hindus living in Pakistan are concentrated mainly in Sindh (Karachi, Larkana, Hyderabad-Sindh, Shikarpur, etc.). That's why, when you visit the famous Mohenjo-daro in Larkana, Sindh to see the best-preserved specimen of Indus civilization, you come across all Hindu workers working as difaát (wall-cleaners). Hindus are there (Pakistan) to perform all lowly tasks like wall-cleaning, manual scavenging, peons, being watchmen, ward-boys, etc. It's a great 'achievement' for a Hindu to become a compounder or health assistant in a Muslim doctor's clinic! 

Ibn Warraq, an atheist and ex-Muslim from Pakistan, wrote for a leading British daily in 2001 that, "Even a 'despicable' job of a hangman is not available to a Hindu in Pakistan because a Hindu cannot execute a Muslim condemned prisoner. It's against Shariah! A Christian executioner can hang a Muslim because both are ahle-kitab: Followers of the same 'books' (Torah for Judaism, Bible for Christians and Al-Furqa'an or Koran for Muslims)…"

If you remember, Pakistan's dethroned PM Zulfikar Ali Bhutto was hanged by an executioner Tara Masih along with four accomplices at Rawalpindi Central Gaol on April 4, 1979. Tara Masih later embraced Islam. In fact, the word Kafir (infidel) is used in Pakistan ONLY for Hindus because they're viewed as idol-worshippers. And to a Muslim, idolatry is a theological adultery!

A few years ago, the Editor-in-chief of Pakistan's leading daily The Dawn was sacked because he ran a factually correct but exceedingly embarrassing (from Pakistan's perspective) report in The Sunday Special Supplement of The Dawn, how the descendants of vanquished Maratha soldiers still cleaned the toilets of the Command and Staff College, Quetta, Baluchistan and Pakistan Military Academy (PMA) Kakul, Abbotaabad in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. Some of them still bear the unmistakable Maratha surnames like Jadhav, Kamble, Bhongre, Angre, etc. Their defeated ancestors were massacred and many captured Maratha soldiers were literally dragged to Pakistan via Atari, the last post of India, by the victorious soldiers of ruthless Afghani invader, Ahmad Shah Abdali, in the third Battle of Panipat on January 14, 1761. Those captured Marathas worked there as indentured labourers (bandhua mazdoor).

Filmmaker Ashutosh Gowariker couldn't dare to show this ignominy in his error-ridden Panipat. Forcible or 'willing' conversions of Hindus in Pakistan are rampant. They (Hindus) convert to Islam for mere survival. Otherwise also, there has never been a single cerebral conversion in the entire history of mankind. 

Conversions always have a subtle or blatant (as the case may be) manipulative and coercive element. Having studied Islam in and out and interacted with the Muslim and non-Muslim scholars across the world, I've come to the conclusion that Islam doesn't believe in peaceful co-existence. "Convert the infidels to the fold of Islam" is a Quranic injunction, rather an edict, Islam believes in toto. There's no Hindu commissioned officer in Pakistan Armed Forces, though a Sikh became an officer a few years ago. In fact, Sikhs get slightly better treatment in Pakistan than their Hindu brethren! A Hindu's highest military designation reaches up to a JCO (Junior Commissioned Officer). There's a considerable number of Hindu NCOs (Non Commissioned Officers) and ORs (Other Ranks) in Pakistan but they're not in combative units because infidels are untrustworthy! Most of the ORs work as orderlies to their Pakistani Army officers who nonchalantly call them kafirs and bastards!

So, in the light of these disconcerting facts, one can imagine and empathise with the plight of Danish Kaneria while representing Pakistan in 61 Tests and scalping 261 wickets. Lastly, though I don't want to politicise a simple name of a person as I believe that a name ought not to have any religion, I must mention that Dinesh Kaneria changed his name to Danish to sound Muslim in the face of hostile opposition coming from his Muslim teammates. By the way, Danish is an Arabic word that connotes: Wise/Intelligent. Truly a wise decision taken by a Hindu in a rabidly Muslim country like Pakistan. 

The writer is an advanced research scholar of Semitic languages, civilizations and cultures.

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