New York, US:
Delivering her remarks in the US parliament, Representative Carolyn Maloney last week raised concerns about the rights situation in Pakistan’s third largest province of Sindh, where members of the local community find themselves subject to intense and unfair government scrutiny.
“There is perhaps nowhere in the world more important for the United States to battle extremism with public diplomacy than Pakistan, a nuclear-armed state where numerous extremists over the years have unfortunately sought refuge from justice,” Maloney said during her remarks on July 14.
“The people of Pakistan–especially those in the Sindhi community–deserve respect for their human rights, regardless of creed or conviction. I urge my colleagues to continue to speak out for the Sindhi community in Pakistan and ensure that their human rights are respected,” she added.
During her address, the US lawmakers highlighted how Sindhi persons, who are notably absent from the high echelons of Pakistan’s government, are subjected to exceptional jail times for trumped-up crimes.
“As of 2022, there has not been a single Sindhi-speaking judge on the Supreme Court of Pakistan. Of deepest concern however are the many instances of human rights abuses against the community, including exceptional jail times for trumped-up crimes of blasphemy, beatings, harassment, and forced disappearances. In 2017 alone, many activists, budding politicians, teachers, and students were forcibly disappeared by authorities,” she said.
Citing data from an Islamabad-based think tank, the US House Representative said that nearly 1,500 accusations and cases of blasphemy. She even raised the case of Notan Lal, a member of Pakistan’s Hindu minority, who was accused of speaking blasphemously about the Prophet Muhammad.
“For this supposed infraction against the common good, he was arrested in 2019 and ultimately sentenced in February 2022 to 25 years in prison. No one should ever have to face a life in prison on such trumped-up charges,” said Maloney.
Despite the grave situation, the US lawmaker said there is a silver lining as US Congress continues to hear the cries for help from the Sindhi community.
“Sindh Caucus Co-Chair Representative Brad Sherman and I were especially grateful to see that our Caucus’ efforts to see Voice of America promote additional material and resources in the Sindhi language. Nearly 14 per cent of Pakistanis–over 30 million people–speak Sindhi, but there has unfortunately never been significant material in the language from VOA until now,” she said.
“With this new material, it will become easier to reach out to the Sindhi community in Pakistan, and for them to reach out into the world in turn,” she added.
New York, US: