Pakistan and its minorities

Letter July 08, 2012
Pakistan is clearly not a secular state.

DALLAS, TEXAS: This is with reference to your editorial of July 5 titled “Non-Muslims and our textbooks”. The definition of a secular state is that the government does not interfere with people’s lives based on religion. Individual bigotry, while undesirable, may exist in a secular state. By that definition, Pakistan is clearly not a secular state. Consider the following facts which show state-level discrimination based on religion:

1) Pakistan calls itself an ‘Islamic’ republic. By this identity itself people of other faiths are excluded

2) Blasphemy against Islam is punishable by death as per law. Blasphemy against other religions is treated differently.

3) By law, the president and the prime minister must be Muslim.

4) Recently, a lower court ordered that the dome of an Ahmadi ‘place of worship’ be destroyed. This is not consistent with guarantees regarding freedom of worship.

6) There is no process for registering Hindu marriages under Pakistani law.

7) Pakistan’s population of minorities has been reduced from a healthy proportion at the time of independence to two to three per cent of the population now.

Ayesha Khan

Published in The Express Tribune, July 9th, 2012.