The National Assembly of Pakistan has passed a landmark bill which gives its hindu minority the right to register marriages. Hindus make up approximately 2% of Pakistan’s Muslim-majority 190 million population. Prominent Pakistani Hindus include cricketer Danish Kaneria, fashion designer Deepak Perwani, and former Chief Justice of Pakistan Rana Bhagwandas. 

Since the independence of Pakistan in 1947, Hindus had not been provided any legal mechanism to register their marriages. There have been several reported cases in which hindu women were disproportionately targeted for abduction, forced conversion, and rape because their marriages were not officially recognised and therefore not provable in court. The new bill sets the minimum age for marriage for Hindus at 18 years. This would also be a good step to protect hindu girls who are often married at a younger age without their consent. The proof of marriage would offer greater protection to hindu women. 

The founding father of Pakistan, Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah, in his historic 11 August 1947 speech to the Constituent Assembly said that “in course of time, Hindus would cease to be Hindus and Muslims would cease to be Muslims, not in the religious sense, because that is the personal faith of each individual, but in the political sense as citizens of the state.” 

I appreciate the efforts made by the members of parliament involved in passing this particular bill. 

ENGR. MANSOOR AHMED, 

Faisalabad, September 28.