It is 64 years since Pakistan was created, and Pakistan still has not legislated to protect the Family Laws of a segment of non-Muslim minorities. A Hindu Marriage Bill, proposed in 2008, is gathering dust in parliament where our representatives are busy in wrangling over other matters. There is no system in place for the registration of marriages of Hindus, Sikhs and Baha’is, which means that they can’t legally prove their marriages at home and abroad, and wives can’t claim property of their dead husbands.
Hindus, the largest minority at around four million, say that the government is actually resisting the passage of the pending law but will not say why. One can surmise that the government could be scared of a backlash from the conservatives. Minister for National Harmony Akram Masih Gill hopes that a Marriage Act for Hindu, Sikh, Parsi and Bahai minorities will soon be passed. The majority community has no idea of what this entails — because of general insensitivity and an obsession with its own religion — to see that the minorities face problems acquiring national identity cards and passports, registering married women, conducting property transfers and travelling abroad.