Pak minister opposes proposed restriction on changing religion before 18 years of age

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Islamabad, Jul 14 (PTI) Pakistan’s Minister for Religious Affairs Noorul Haq Qadri on Wednesday opposed a proposed restriction on changing religion before the age of 18 years.

Qadri, who is also a member of the Senate Parliamentary committee on minorities’ rights, said the change of religion before 18 years of age is a matter of choice and no restriction can be imposed on it.

'We do not support a restriction on religious conversion before 18 years of age. There are several examples in Islam of religious conversion before 18 years,' he said during a meeting of the committee.

He said that the change of religion before 18 is a matter of choice and no restriction can be imposed on it and if someone aged 14 years wished to convert to some other religion, they could not be stopped.

But the minister agreed that the issue of marriageable age can be regulated through laws and the Council of Islamic Ideology can be consulted for it.

The issue of conversion has been in the limelight for several years due to recurrence of such cases in the Sindh province which has a sizable Hindu population and from where such cases are frequently reported.

Qadri supported the probe into cases of forcible conversion and said that it would be investigated if someone was 'forcefully converting others in Sindh'.

To the question that a certain spiritual leader in Sindh, known as Pir Mian Mithu of Bharchundi Sharif, has been allegedly orchestrating conversion of minor Hindu girls, Qadri said that the pir should be called by the committee and informed that what he was doing was 'damaging Islam and Pakistan'.

To highlight the issue of conversion, minority Senator Danesh Kumar told the committee that a religious leader in Dalbandin area of Balochistan was incentivising conversion.

The Senator claimed that the leader was luring the menial workers like local Sweepers that would not have to sweep after converting to Islam. PTI SH RUP RUP

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