Hindus' Woes "Far From Over"

March 28, 2007

Author: Nirupama Subramanian

Source: The Hindu


ISLAMABAD: As the first person of his community to occupy one of the highest offices in the country, acting Chief Justice Rana Bhagwandas has made the Hindus of Pakistan walk tall, leaders of the tiny minority here said.

But community leaders are also clear that the appointment does not mean that the problems that Hindus face as a minority are now over. Justice Bhagwandas was sworn in last week as the acting Chief Justice in place of chief justice Iftikhar Chaudhary who was removed earlier this month.

"He is an honest man. That his appointment became a matter of public demand and that the entire nation was willing to place its trust in a Hindu is a matter of great pride for us," said Ramesh Kumar Vankwani, Sindh Provincial Assembly legislator and patron of the Pakistan Hindu Council.

Hindus, whose numbers in Pakistan are estimated at slightly over 20 lakh of its 160 million population, have had a difficult relationship with the state over the last 60 years, just as other minority communities in the country. In addition, they have had to deal with the hostility that came with Partition. The drive towards more and more Islamisation in the 1980s, and the existing climate of extremism have increased their uncertainties.

All this makes Mr. Bhagwandas's career graph, through the ranks of the legal community and the lower judiciary in Sindh and from there to the High Court and the Supreme Court, remarkable.