Pak Hindus to boycott Sindh polls :

Islamabad, Dec 8: The process for restoration of democracy has suffered a blow in the powerful Sindh province as yet another minority, the Hindu community, has decided to boycott the local council elections, protesting against the continuation of separate electorates, a media report said here on Friday.

The Hindu community is the second to boycott polls after the Christians, who decided not to participate in the local council elections, reports Pakistani weekly The Friday Times.

A decision to this effect was taken at a meeting of all Hindu upper Sindh convention at Jacobabad, the paper said.

Another daily newspaper The News said efforts were being made by the administration to convince the Hindu panchayat leaders to call off the boycott of the local bodies poll in Larkana division of the province.

The paper said only seven nomination forms from minority community - two from Jacobabad, four from Larkana and one from Shikarpur - had been filed till the last day.

A Hindu panchayat leader was quoted by the paper as saying that "it would be a big blow for the military regime in Pakistan, if it goes ahead with polls without the participation of minorities".

Speaking to The Friday Times Sudham Chand Chawla said, "Why shouldn't we protest against being treated as fourth class citizens? Under the electorate system in Pakistan, minorities including Hindus have a separate electorate.

Hindus are a docile community and are generally hounded by intelligence agencies, especially if they are seen as getting active politically, The Friday Times said.

The history of separate electorate starts from the regime of Zia-Ul- Haq, who, in 1985 non-party general elections expelled the minorities from the mainstream on the basis of separate electorates. The weekly says that "it is a fact that the Hindu community in Sindh faces innumerable problems. Kidnappings of Hindus for ransom, kidnappings of Hindu girls, their subsequent conversion and marriages to Muslim boys, harassment by the agencies are just some of the problems".

The paper said these issues are being avoided by the successive governments despite the press highlighting these issues and the human rights of Pakistan writing about it year after year.

General secretary (minorities wing) of Pakistan People's Party Mehr Chand is quoted by the weekly as saying "deliberate efforts have been made to force us to leave the country...We have decided to launch an effective struggle against discrimination and injustice. What Islam preaches, the government should practice it". -PTI