Washington: The Hindu community in US has lauded the passage of the Hindu Marriage Bill in Pakistan's National Assembly, which now officially recognises Hindu marriages throughout the country.
"The Hindu Marriage Act is viewed as an attempt to bring legitimacy to marriages occurring within the Hindu population, which had previously not been officially recognised," Hindu American Foundation (HAF) said in a statement on Tuesday.
"This is a long overdue step necessary to accord basic civil liberties and human rights to Pakistan's nearly two million strong Hindu population," HAF senior director and Human Rights Fellow Samir Kalra said.
The bill follows the recent passage of a similar law in the Sindh Provincial Assembly, where the vast majority of Pakistan's Hindu population resides.
The bill will now have to get approval in the country's upper house, the Senate.
"The lack of a legal mechanism to recognise Hindu marriages in Pakistan since the country's creation in 1947 has led to rampant discrimination against Hindus and has left Hindu women vulnerable to forced conversions and forced marriages to unknown Muslim men.
"We hope that the expedited passage of this bill by Pakistan's Senate, along with its rigorous enforcement by government authorities, will curb discrimination and forced conversions of Hindu women," Kalra said.
"This bill may be imperfect but it is a historic milestone for Hindus in Pakistan," HAF director of Government Relations Jay Kansara said.
"The passage of the Hindu Marriage Act, however, should not divert attention from Pakistan's ongoing human rights abuses and its state sponsorship of terrorist organisations that have killed thousands of people in Pakistan, Afghanistan, and India," Kansara said.