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Religious minorities in Pakistan treated as non-citizens: report

In a report released on Friday, a rights group has revealed how the lives of minority communities in Pakistan are under siege, and religious minorities are treated as “non-citizens”, one without a voice and any legally protected rights.
“Minorities in the Islamic Republic of Pakistan are forced to lead lives which are perpetually under siege. Theoretically, Pakistan’s Constitution provides equal rights to all citizens, but these are only on paper. Religious minorities – Hindus, Christians, Sikhs, Buddhists, Ahmadis even Shias – are treated as non-citizens. They are people without a voice; people without any constitutionally or legally protected rights,” the Centre for Democracy, Pluralism and Human Rights (CDPHR) said in its report.
“Minorities are stateless in the State of Pakistan. Punjab dominated military-politician complex violates human rights not only of religious minorities but also of Balochs and Hazaras,” it added.
The report also highlighted the ongoing issue of harsh blasphemy law in the country and said the “law works like a big instrument of exploitation and subjugation of people of other faiths”.
“Fake rumours of desecrating the Quran or defaming Islam and the Prophet are spread. Minorities and their families are terrorised, subjugated and converted through this draconian law,” it said.
The report further said though Pakistan is a signatory to several international human rights treaties such as the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), however, the environment in which religious and ethnic minorities find themselves is marred by hate speech, violence and repeated invocation of blasphemy laws.
“These oppressions have made it increasingly difficult for people of religious and ethnic minorities to live safely and fully exercise their rights to freedom of expression and belief.”
The report further said some ethnic minorities like Balochs, Pashtuns and Sindhis are persecuted by Punjab dominated military and bureaucracy.
“Baluchistan’s independence movement is violently suppressed by Punjabi dominated military here. Forceful abductions, rape, enforced disappearances and extra-judicial killings of the detainees by the military are frequent in case of the ethnic minorities.”
The rights further said the Human rights movement in Pakistan is a “toothless movement” and rights organisations of Pakistan exist on paper only.

Jasveer Singh

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