Ethnic cleansing of Hindus in Pakistan and Bangladesh continues unabated, writes Richard L Benkin
I just returned from India after a month during which time an incredible number of significant events were occurring. My primary mission in going was to document and raise awareness of the ethnic cleansing of Bangladeshi Hindus. I found plenty, including evidence of ongoing attacks on them both in Bangladesh and in West Bengal, India. The border between the two is so porous that terrorists and contraband move freely with and without the help of India’s Border Security Force or West Bengal Police. But I also witnessed the tragic beginning of the end for Pakistan’s Hindus. Once one in five Pakistanis, they have been reduced to one per cent of the population.
But as the Taliban take over ever larger chunks of that country, that remnant of a people is streaming across the border into Indian Punjab. The stream became a torrent with the Taliban’s seizure of the Swat Valley earlier this year. Hindu refugees report attacks and threats by the Taliban, as well as officials telling them to leave the country “or else…” The February agreement between the Taliban and the Asif Ali Zardari Government in Pakistan ceded the area to the former and allowed Sharia’h law to be imposed on Swat’s 1.2 million inhabitants.
US President Barack Obama has used this agreement as a model in his stated quest for “moderate Taliban.” But not only does the agreement countersign ethnic cleansing, it also failed even before Mr Obama’s anticipated speech on US policy in the region. Just hours before the President spoke, one of the Taliban parties to the agreement, the Tehrik e Taliban, abrogated it with a terror attack on a mosque in Pakistan’s North-West Frontier Province, and has engaged in other terrorist attacks subsequently.
One Hindi news channel quoted a Taliban spokesman confirming that his group was pulling out of the agreement not to attack elsewhere in Pakistan because, he said, it would be contrary to Allah’s wishes to limit Sharia’h to the Swat Valley. Yet, no major media in India, the US, or elsewhere made this connection.
Even more shameful, no media or Government has protested the ethnic cleansing of Pakistan’s Hindus, who are being finished off by the Taliban. All Governments involved in the region are just allowing it to happen, too. What kind of a world do we live in when India will not defend Hindus attacked for being Hindus; when the US ignores the atrocity; when not a single human rights group or the UN utters a word of protest?
What is happening to Pakistan’s Hindus is a crime, but a crime that is largely accomplished. There remain 13,000,000 Hindus in Bangladesh subject to the same attacks, the same racist laws, and the same intention to eradicate them. Worse, the battle is spilling across the open border into India, and it is changing the security arrangements between the two countries, the demographic balance, and continuing the ethnic cleansing there, too. It is also allowing terrorists into the country whose intention is to undermine the very nation of Hindustan.
My mission is to prevent that, to prevent the murders and other atrocities, even if I am the only voice of protest to cry out about this crime against humanity.
— The writer is an American Jewish human rights activist.
I met Richard Benkin when he was in India last month. Here is his photo that I took:
Benkin addressed an assembly of Indian journalists. Subramanian Swamy was there too. I took some notes from their speeches. I will post them here as soon as I get some free time.