Religious freedom limited for minorities in Pakistan: Report

Published: July 31, 2012

“There were reports of societal abuses or discrimination based on religious affiliation, belief, or practice.”

WASHINGTON: The State Department’s annual International Religious Freedom report for 2011 observed that there have been instances in which law enforcement personnel in Pakistan have reportedly abused religious minorities while in police custody, along with a general apathy shown by the authorities to persecute extremists or those targeting religious minorities.

The report, which highlights the state of religious freedom in several countries, says that some government practises in Pakistan have limited the freedom of religion, particularly in the case of religious minorities.

“Abuses under the blasphemy law and other discriminatory laws continued; the government did not take adequate measures to prevent these incidents or reform the laws to prevent abuse. Since the government rarely investigated or prosecuted the perpetrators of increased extremist attacks on religious minorities and members of the Muslim majority promoting tolerance, the climate of impunity continued.”

The executive summary of the report said that there was an increase in intolerance and violence against minorities and those Muslims promoting tolerance. “There were reports of societal abuses or discrimination based on religious affiliation, belief, or practice.”

The report highlights that many hesitated to speak out in favour of religious tolerance in the light of the killings of Salmaan Taseer, the former Governor of Punjab, and Shahbaz Bhatti, the Federal Minister for Minorities.

The IRF report says that extremist elements demanded “that all citizens follow their authoritarian interpretation of Islam and threatened brutal consequences if they did not abide by it.” The report also highlighted that there had been attacks on Ahmadi, Hindi, Sufi and Shia gatherings and religious sites in 2011.

The only seemingly positive aspect of the report was that the government had taken some steps to improve religious freedom, via the creation of a Ministry of National Harmony. “Following the assassination of Minister of Minority Affairs Shahbaz Bhatti, the president appointed his brother, Paul Bhatti, as his special advisor for minority affairs.”

It also noted the inauguration of Darul Qaza (an appellate or revision court) in Swat by the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa chief minister in January as a step to implement the Nifaz-e-Adl Regulation.

Highlighting intolerance in the press, the report said that some Urdu newspapers in the country “frequently published articles that contained derogatory references to religious minorities, especially Ahmedis, Hindus, and Jews.” Additionally, while the government barred the sale of Ahmedi religious literature, “some Sunni Muslim groups published literature calling for violence against Ahmedis, Shia Muslims, other Sunni sects, and Hindus.”

The State Department IRF report said that while madrassahs in Pakistan were barred from teaching sectarian or religious hatred, yet in recent years “a small yet influential number of madrassahs have taught extremist doctrine in support of terrorism in violation of the law.”

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Reader Comments (12)

  • Nakrish
    Jul 31, 2012 - 9:15AM

    And yet we continue to say pakistan is the most peaceful country.

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  • Zalim Singh
    Jul 31, 2012 - 10:09AM

    welcome to Pakistan.

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  • hypocrite
    Jul 31, 2012 - 10:10AM

    Where are all the people crying against persecution in Burma!! Why silent on ethnic cleansing in your own country?? HYPOCRITE

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  • Jul 31, 2012 - 10:49AM

    Ok so are they blaming Sunni’s for religious intolerance? New to-be-blamed
    candidate! Wow..
    What happened to blaming in identified forces, Taliban and foreign hand?
    did people stopped believing in those stories? Yeah what else could be the
    reason to find a new sect of people to blame.. Well done people. you are
    addressing the problem in a very appropriate way..

    Recommend

  • Naeem Siddiqui
    Jul 31, 2012 - 11:12AM

    Although Pakistan’s human rights records are not good but when US talk about human rights it feels like evil is preaching moral virtue :)

    A country who blatantly says that they can go to ‘any extent’ to protect their interest is giving lecture on human rights, Pathetic!

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  • Tj
    Jul 31, 2012 - 11:30AM

    Well here even the majority is being maltreated, dont even get me started on the minorities.

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  • Jul 31, 2012 - 10:43PM

    I am a Muslim and I am for complete religious freedom. Although an illegal minority based kuchi abadi has done well to usurp a lot of my basic human rights such as peace and quite at night. Drunkards late at night ensure its hard to get sleep an so on.

    But the important thing to look into is how many of us can dare to call the TAKBEER loud in a public place where there is security? This is a Muslim country where the 97% majority members can get shot due to suspicion only coz they call out ALMIGHTY’s name out loud. these so called reports often forget to mention big capitalist countries, they just target those that suit their preferred foreign policy.

    @ Hypocrite:There is a difference between having somewhat less rights and killing of 20000 people in a matter of days. The report does not hint at ethnic cleansing in Pakistan, Burmese government is doing just that. Obviously blood belonging to Muslims has become cheap in our eyes, you sir, on second thought, are indeed a hypocrite. Recommend

  • Parkash Lal
    Aug 8, 2012 - 8:10PM

    minority right in Pakistan not so admireable , recently three doctor has been killed but no any solo moto by supreme court no one hanged during past histroy. kidnapping is routine matter.

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  • GaMa
    Aug 9, 2012 - 4:55PM

    Its expected to see muslims still defending pakistani muslims cruelty and intentional atrocities towards minorities. Thats the mentality muslims carry around the world. Be it Egypt, Pakistan or Bangladesh they are openly killing/ converting minorities. Even then in the US and India these people are trying to increasing population at huge rates by giving birth at the rate of canines and then blaming the government for their poverty. I am happy people in Burma and so arent letting them increasing their populations coz no matter how good you are to them they will forever look towards you as kafirs. If you have so much prob with the US and India then why do you go and settle there? What about religious freedom in Saudi Arabia for non Muslims? Answers?Recommend

  • NRCT
    Aug 18, 2012 - 7:30AM

    @ CB Guy, the Muslims minorities have been robbing , raping, and blundering hundreds of people in Burma but no one knows about it. The recent gang raping on a villager by trouble making muslim minority is the last straw that pushes them to take action. About 80 were killed , where did you get 10, 000. I guess you are not aware you your own media is duping you to believe that thousands have been killed. They used pictures taken in other parts of the world of totally unrelated incident in the article about Burma to manipulate people.

    Oh , I wonder why so few says a thing about the minorities in Bangladesh, minorities in Pakistan. Why have the world fell so quiet !

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  • abbas
    Aug 22, 2012 - 9:49AM

    Hindus are the original residents of Sindh since 6000 years back. After Sindh became part of Pakistan 1.5 million Hindus migrated to India because of violence let loose against them on orders of new leaders of Pakistan and on whose orders they were attacked,killed their homes and properties were looted by new comers. After a short period the remaining Hindus settled down in rural districts mostly in upper Sindh. Now their girls are kidnapped forcibly converted and the Hindus men and women kidnapped for ransom,killed and looted on behest of influential Sardars, waderas and Jagirdas all of whom belong to PPP and are sitting in power corridors as assembly members and ministers while the Sindhi president and chief minister are helpless.
    Watching the increase in religious fanaticism we Muslims Sindhis who are already discriminated in Pakistan are getting frightened. Hindus can migrate to India who on need can help them but where shall we Muslim Sindhis go.

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  • MA
    Aug 23, 2012 - 1:59AM

    The fate of minorities is really awafull in pakistan.you start from ist class in a primary school to the colleges and univesities you will find hatered against the minoroty students.
    they r toutured not by fellow students,but teachers r also involved in it and there is no body to check them.
    The remedy is to delete the -religien–coloumn in the admission forms at all levels and also in forms filled for employment.

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