August 2019 \ World News \ NEIGHBORHOOD
US slams Pak’s treatment of religious minorities

The US has criticised the “persecution” of religious minorities ...

By Arul Louis

“He has been a courageous advocate for the persecuted, whether Christian, Ahmadiyya, Hindu, or others,” he said. Walter said that there was shocking treatment of Christians, Hindu, Bahai, Ahmadiyya, Sikh Muslim and Jewish minorities in South Asia. He mentioned the treatment of Ahmadiyyas in Pakistan, Bahais in Iran, and what he called “lower castes” and minorities in India as well as China’s actions towards its minorities. The attacks on places of worship in Sri Lanka, Pakistan and New Zealand, the religious conflicts in Nigeria and the exodus for the Rohingya from Myanmar gave an idea of the alarming situation of religious minorities around the world. Churches have been attacked by extremists in Pakistan and Sri Lanka and mosques in New Zealand.

Kashmiri Pandit diaspora meet in Houston

Celebrating the abrogation of Article 370 that gave special status to Jammu and Kashmir, the Global Kashmiri Pandit Diaspora (GKPD) organised a meeting of the community members in Houston with the head of BJP’s Foreign Affairs Department Mr Vijay Chauthaiwale. All the heads of Kashmiri Pandits’ community organisations from India and community members from Australia, the UK, Germany, Singapore, India and the US connected with the meeting via teleconference in August. Addressing the gathering, Mr Chauthaiwale said that he could feel the joy, positive vibrations and excitement in the community following the recent transformational changes in India. “The abrogation of Article 370 was a historic moment... It was the result of the strong ideological commitment, will to execute, emotional involvement, strategic implementation and focussed techniques to execute the strategy that our visionary Prime Minister (Narendra Modi) and his team had shown,” he said. Mr Surinder Kaul, international coordinator of GKPD, said: “It was time to celebrate the power and diversity of our great nation.” He said the GKPD focuses on challenging the separatist narrative at the United Nations. “The community faces challenges in terms of cultural, religious and social extermination unless concrete steps are taken immediately,” he said. On behalf of the local community, Ms Veena Ambardar thanked Narendra Modi and his team. Ms Ambardar said: “In addition to paving the way for major infrastructural developments in Kashmir, the move has also instilled a ray of hope in the Kashmiri Pandit community that they will be able to reclaim their homeland.”

Walter said that in many countries minorities faced blasphemy laws, abductions, forced conversions, forced marriages of girls and even religious tax. “We remain deeply concerned about the Chinese government’s escalating, widespread, and undue restrictions on religious freedom in China. “Many members of religious groups in China - including ethnic Uyghur, Kazakh and other Muslims, Tibetan Buddhists, Catholics, Protestants, and Falun Gong - face severe persecution and repression, and we call on the Chinese government to end its war on faith and to respect religious freedom for all”.