LAHORE: The Hindu community of Lahore has announced to put their weight behind independent candidate Sheikh Yaqoob, backed by Jammat-ud-Dawa (JuD) political wing—Milli Muslim League, for the upcoming by-polls of NA 120.
The decision of supporting Yaqoob was made during the meeting of Falah-e-Insaniat Foundation (FIF) Chairman Hafiz Abdul Rauf with Pandit Lal Bhagat in Balmeek Hindu Mandir, situated in Anarkali, Lahore.
Apparantely, an unusual move of taking support of Hindu community was done by the candidate of a religiously backed group—having identity of hard liners and its views regarding the India.
It is a common perception in Pakistan that JuD possesses a rigid ideology which has been under criticism in different circles in Pakistan. Particularly, it has been criticised by the government and Hindus of India for its alleged involvement in cross border terrorist activities.
On other hand, there was also a perception that Hindus harbour feelings of animosity against Muslims, especially after the demolition of Jain Mandir in Lahore, after the Babari Masjid incident in India. However, both perceptions seem to have vanished after the joining of hands of Hindus with a ‘rigid’ political party man.
We never talked against any religion nor have hate for any person globally, said the Jud leader and FIF Chairman Hafiz Abdul Rauf. Talking to Pakistan Today, he said that FIF was aiming to work for humanity regardless of religion or colour. “Our track record is witness that we have provided our welfare services to every Pakistano without seeking any interest,” he said, adding that during drought in Tharparkar, FIF made efforts to rescue the people; it also dug hundreds of water wells, among them at least 500 being just for the Hindus, he said.
Rauf said that Hindus of Sindh were treated in the same manner like the Muslims during the historic flood, while FIF also built localities for Hindus and Christians during earthquake of 2005 and IDPs from FATA during 2009. “Hindus and other minorities living in Pakistan are equal citizens and have equal rights. When Islam has given them all rights then how can we think to deprive of them?” he said.
Rauf further informed that their candidate not only had meetings with Hindus but also Christians of the constituency have given assurance for their full support for Yaqoob.
A question regarding the move to build soft image before international community, Rauf replied: “We always condemn terrorism around the world and in Pakistan there is not a single complain against us,” he said.
The Hindus of the NA-120 also expressed their soft views for Muslims and Sheikh Yaqoob in particular.
An administrator in Balmeek Temple belonging to Hindu community, Faryad Khokhar said that they never considered themselves a separate entity. “We always used our right of taking part in the political activities of Pakistan. We never thought of ourselves as second citizens nor have any concept of depravedness because our issues are common with Muslims,” he said, adding that Pakistan was their beloved country and our lives and deaths belong to it. “We have been living with Muslims for centuries and never felt any discrimination on the basis religion,” he added.
On a question regarding the image of JuD as a hard liner, Khokhar said that they never observed such a gesture. “They came at our place, gave us regard and in return it was our duty to give them honour. We have promised them for our full support,” he said and informed that around 150 families are living in NA-120 where around 500 to 600 Hindus voters were registered.