Monday, April 15, 2024

Pak envoy confronted in US over rapes, conversion of minorities

In an international embarrassment for Pakistan, an activist in Washington DC confronted Ambassador Masood Khan over the persecution of minorities in his country. Khan, who is in the US seeking financial aid and relief for the flood-ravaged country, was squared up by an Indian-origin woman’s rights activist, who raised the issue of rape and forced conversion of minority girls in Pakistan.

The incident occurred on Friday at the National Press Club in Washington DC, where Khan was invited to provide an update on the record flooding in his country.

Manga Anantmula, a former congressional candidate from Virginia and an Army veteran, held up a poster during the press conference and requested the Pakistani envoy to address the issue of forced conversions. She alleged that girls belonging to Hindu and other religious minorities were raped in the name of flood relief in Pakistan.

When accosted by the Ambassador about her background, Anantmula said she was very much an American citizen.

Cornering the envoy, she said, “When asking for American support, Pakistan should also address the families of the 2,000 American men and women who were killed by ISI-supported Taliban militants over the last two decades.”

Pakistan has been long-criticized for violation of human rights of minorities with multiple reports of abduction, rape, or forceful conversions of non-Muslim girls surfacing in the country. The population of minorities has reduced from 25% in 1947 to less than 5% today, amid allegations of targeted killing of minorities in the Islamic nation.

Presently, Pakistan is facing the worst impact of natural calamity following record-breaking flooding that left several towns and villages submerged. The unprecedented deluge, which began in mid-June, has triggered landslides and collapsed houses, killing 1,355 people and rendering over 600,000 homeless. At one point, an estimated third of Pakistan was submerged for weeks in floodwaters.

As many as 18,000 schools are damaged even as the nation is already battling high poverty. Pakistan’s authorities have asked the international community to send more aid to the flood victims, insisting that the country is facing a climate-change-induced tragedy.

Amid Masood Khan’s visit to Washington DC, the US Agency for International Development announced an additional USD 20 million relief fund for the flood response in Pakistan. To date, USAID has provided over USD 50 million for food, shelter, cash, water, and more.

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