Preetam Das is a good doctor with a hospital job and a thriving private clinic, yet all he thinks about is leaving Pakistan, terrified about a rise in killings and kidnappings targeting Hindus. Two of his uncles have been kidnapped and affluent Hindus are at particular risk from abduction gangs looking for ransom, he says.
Rights activists say the climate is indicative of progressive Islamisation over the last 30 years that has fuelled an increasing lack of tolerance to religious minorities, too often considered second class citizens.
Hindus make up 2.5 % of the 174 million people living in the nuclear-armed Muslim nation. Over 90 % live in Sindh, where they are generally wealthy and enterprising, making them easy prey for criminal gangs.
An official at the ministry of external affairs in New Delhi who declined to be named said: “Every month about eight to 10 Hindu families migrate from Pakistan. Most of them are well-off.”
According to the Pakistan Hindu Seva, a community welfare organisation, at least 10 families have migrated from Sindh every month since 2008, mostly to India, but in the last 10 months, 400 families have left.