Punjab records 193 cases of violence against minorities in a year

Report highlights attacks on places of worship, residences

Muhammad Shahzad March 08, 2024


The year 2023 saw a significant surge in incidents targeting minorities in Pakistan, with at least 193 reported attacks on persons, properties, and places of worship, according to a report by the Centre for Social Justice (CSJ).

The provinces of Punjab and Sindh were particularly affected, witnessing 42 incidents in places of worship of minorities. Ahmadi places of worship bore the brunt, with 29 attacks reported in Punjab, 10 in Sindh and three in Azad Jammu Kashmir (AJK).

Published in the "Human Rights Observer", a publication of CSJ, the report detailed 113 attacks on properties and places of worship belonging to Christians, predominantly in Punjab.

Additionally, 37 places of worship and properties belonging to Hindus, mainly in Sindh, and 1 targeting Sikhs, also in Sindh, were reported.

The abuse of blasphemy laws was rampant, with 329 individuals accused under blasphemy laws and 180 cases reported. Among the accused, 247 were Muslims, 65 were Ahmadis, 11 were Christians, and one was Hindu, while the religious affiliation of five accused was unidentified.

Punjab recorded the highest number of blasphemy accusations, with 179 cases, followed by 79 in Sindh, 32 in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, and one each in AJK, Balochistan, and Gilgit-Baltistan. Seven people were killed after allegations in 2023, and a Christian was accused posthumously in Narowal.

Since 1994, at least 94 individuals have been killed in connection with alleged blasphemy, with the first victim being Naimat Ahmer, a Christian teacher and award-winning poet from Faisalabad.

The report also highlighted the plight of teachers, with 44 educators accused of blasphemy since 1994. Among them, 33 were Muslims, seven were Christians, 1 was Hindu, and 3 were Ahmadis. Seven teachers were killed, including Dr Shakeel Auj from Karachi and Prof Khalid Hameed from Bahawalpur.

Additionally, 16 students were accused of blasphemy since 1992, with 14 being Muslims and 2 being Christian students. Mashal Khan, a student, was lynched to death in 2017.

Published in The Express Tribune, March 8th, 2024.



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