Islamabad: The Pakistani minister responsible for the welfare of religious minorities has called for stronger legislation to protect them from forced conversions, alleging that 100 non-Muslim women, mostly Hindus, were forced to convert to Islam in recent months.
   
Minister for National Harmony Akram Masih Gill, himself a Christian, said such practices by Muslims went against the injunctions of Islam as the religion's laws prohibited forced conversion.
   
"We will seek a religious decree from the Council of Islamic Ideology and a ruling by the Federal Shariah Court on the issue before introducing the required law," Gill told a newspaper.
   
The draft of the proposed law is likely to be tabled in the Parliament after the passage of the budget in June.
   
Gill said he was unsure about the exact number of forced conversions in the absence of accurate data, but believed that the "figure of such cases is about 100".
   
Parliamentarians from minority communities have recommended that the federal government introduce legislation to check forced conversions, he said.
   
The minister's remarks came against the backdrop of an order issued by the Supreme Court, directing authorities in southern Sindh province to produce three Hindu women, who were allegedly forcibly converted, in court on March 26.
   
Two of the women – Rinkle Kumari and Lata Kumari – have claimed in lower courts that they voluntarily converted to Islam and married Muslim men.

(Agencies)