Religious discrimination in Pakistan

Religious discrimination in Pakistan is a serious issue back in time, but not now a days. Christians, Hindus, Atheists and Ahmadi Muslims among other many other religious groups in Pakistan are routinely discriminated against. They are at times refused jobs, loans, housing and other similar things simply because of their choice of religious faith. Christian Churches and Ahmadi mosques and their worshippers are often attacked.[1]

In 1999 the United Nations Human Rights Council approved the first resolution against defamation of religions. However these resolutions have been severely criticized by the United States, various European nations and freedom of religion groups as these resolutions contained language which could be used to discriminate against minority religions, and in March 2010 the UN refused to enact the most recent resolution.[2]

In 2011 religious intolerance was reported to be at its height, hundreds of minorities, women, journalists and liberals were being killed by Islamist fundamentalist extremists, while the Government remained mostly a silent spectator, often only making statements which condemned the ruthless acts of violence by the extremists but taking no real concrete action against them.[3][4][5]

Progress on religious freedom is being made gradually as Pakistan transitions to democracy from Zia's legacy, in 2016 Sindh with Pakistan's largest Hindu minority passed a bill that outlawed forced conversions. The bill was tabled by a faction of the Pakistan Muslim League which in Sindh is led by Sufi leader Pir Pagara, called PML-F, Pakistan Muslim League functional.[6]

Violence against minorities

Attacks on religious minorities in Pakistan have claimed hundreds of lives of religious minorities, such as Pakistani Ahmadis, Hindus, Sufis and Christians.[7]

The July 2010 Lahore bombings killed 50 people and wounded 200 others in two suicide bombings on the Sufi shrine, Data Durbar Complex in Lahore.[8][9] The May 2010 Lahore attacks left 94 dead and more than 120 injured in nearly simultaneous attacks against two mosques of the minority Ahmadiyya Community[10] Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan, as well as their Punjab wing, claimed responsibility for the attacks and were also blamed by the Pakistani police.

In 2012 Jundallah militants stopped buses and massacred 18 men travelling on buses. All but one of the victims were Shia Muslim, while others on the buses were spared.[11][12]

On March 15, 2014, a crowd of Muslims burnt a Hindu temple and a dharmashala in Larkana, Sindh, Pakistan, after unverified allegations of a Hindu youth desecrating a copy of the Quran.[13][14][15][16]

On 22 September 2013, a twin suicide bomb attack took place at All Saints Church[17] in Peshawar, Pakistan, in which 127 people were killed and over 250 injured.[18][19][20][21] On 15 March 2015, two blasts took place at Roman Catholic Church and Christ Church during Sunday service at Youhanabad town of Lahore.[22] At least 15 people were killed and seventy were wounded in the attacks.[23][24]

Attacks on minorities in the country have led to condemnation of policies that are discriminatory to religious minorities in Pakistan.[25]

Following the 2010 Lahore massacre, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said "Members of this religious community have faced continuous threats, discrimination and violent attacks in Pakistan. There is a real risk that similar violence might happen again unless advocacy of religious hatred that constitutes incitement to discrimination, hostility or violence is adequately addressed. The Government must take every step to ensure the security of members of all religious minorities and their places of worship so as to prevent any recurrence of today’s dreadful incident." Ban's spokesperson expressed condemnation and extended his condolences to the families of the victims and to the Government.[26]

The United States ambassador to Pakistan, Anne W. Patterson, issued an unusually strong statement saying Pakistan had witnessed an increase in "provocative statements that promote intolerance and are an incitement to extremist violence."[10]

An editorial published in Dawn condemned the attacks, commenting that "Bigotry in this country has been decades in the making and is expressed in a variety of ways. Violence by individuals or groups against those who hold divergent views may be the most despicable manifestation of such prejudice but it is by no means the only one. Religious minorities in Pakistan have not only been shunted to the margins of society but also face outright persecution on a regular basis."[27]

Blasphemy Law

Asia Bibi is a Pakistani Christian woman who was convicted of blasphemy by a Pakistani court, receiving a sentence of death by hanging. In June 2009, Bibi was involved in an argument with a group of Muslim women with whom she had been harvesting berries after the other women grew angry with her for drinking the same water as them. She was subsequently accused of insulting the Islamic prophet Muhammad, a charge she denies, and was arrested and imprisoned. In November 2010, a Sheikhupura judge sentenced her to death. If executed, Bibi would be the first woman in Pakistan to be lawfully killed for blasphemy.[28][29][30]

In August 2012, Rimsha Masih, a Christian girl, reportedly 11 or 14 years old, and an illiterate with mental disabilities was accused of blasphemy for burning pages from a book containing Quranic verses. The allegation came from a Muslim cleric who himself has subsequently been accused by the police of framing the girl. The girl, and later the cleric, were both arrested and released on bail.[31][32][33]

In 2014 Junaid Jamshed was accused under the blasphemy law.[34] According to The Economist, Jamshed "is unable to return to Pakistan after being accused of mocking one of the Prophet’s wives in a throwaway remark about the weakness of women."[35]

Critics of the blasphemy laws have called for change.[36]


It is estimated that about 97% of Pakistan's population are Muslim with the majority being Sunni and between 12 and 20 percent being Shi'a. Four percent of the population are Christian, Hindu and Sikh. Since the 1970s the Christian's have faced religious discrimination as Islamization became the official policy of the government. The Ahmadiyya have faced greater persecution since 1974 after being declared "non Muslims" over allegations that they do not recognize Muhammad as the last prophet.[37]

In addition, there have been many cases of religious persecution in of Hindus in the nation. Among these, the most recent include 19-year-old Hindu girl Rinkle Kumari from Mirpur Mathelo in Ghotki district, Sindh province who was abducted a gang and "forced" to convert to Islam, before being head shaved.[38]

Another recent case was the gunning down of four Hindu doctors in Chak town, Shikarpur sparking fears and panic among the minority community.[39]

Education system

In 2011 the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom(USCIRF) released a report on the public schools and Madrassas in Pakistan. The study concluded

  • Public school textbooks used by all children often had a strong Islamic orientation, and Pakistan's religious minorities were referenced derogatorily or omitted altogether;
  • Hindus were depicted in especially negative terms, and references to Christians were often inaccurate and offensive;
  • Public school and madrassa teachers had limited awareness or understanding of religious minorities and their beliefs, and were divided on whether religious minorities were citizens;
  • Teachers often expressed very negative views about Ahmadis, Christians, and Jews, and successfully transmitted these biases to their students;
  • Interviewees' expressions of tolerance often were intermixed with neutral and intolerant comments, leaving some room for improvement.[40]

See also


  1. Bales, Kevin (2012). Disposable People: New Slavery in the Global Economy, Updated With a New Preface (3rd Revised ed.). University of California Press. p. 177. ISBN 978-0520272910.
  2. Stepan, Alfred (2012). Timothy Samuel Shah; Alfred C. Stepan; Monica Duffy Tof, eds. Rethinking Religion and World Affairs. Oxford University Press. pp. 113–114. ISBN 978-0199827978.
  3. "World Report 2012: Pakistan - Human Rights Watch". Retrieved 17 March 2015.
  4. "The page you are looking for is not available at this URL.". Daily Times. Retrieved 17 March 2015.
  5. "Pakistan: The State of Human Rights in 2011". Retrieved 17 March 2015.
  7. "Violence Towards Religious Communities in Pakistan" (PDF). USCIRF. August 2014.
  8. "Deadly blasts hit Sufi shrine in Lahore". BBC. 1 July 2010. Retrieved 1 July 2010.
  9. Tavernise, Sabrina (1 July 2010). "Blasts at Sufi Shrine in Pakistan Kill at Least 35". The New York Times. Retrieved 1 July 2010.
  10. 1 2 Perlez, Jane (May 28, 2010). "Attackers Hit Mosques of Islamic Sect in Pakistan". The New York Times. Retrieved 28 May 2010.
  11. "Pakistan is in denial over spreading sectarian violence". The Guardian. 19 April 2012. Retrieved 4 June 2012.
  12. "BBC News – Pakistan sectarian bus attack in Kohistan kills 18". 28 February 2012. Retrieved 2012-03-19.
  13. Hindu temple set on fire in Pakistan over blasphemy, Reuters, March 16, 2014
  14. Mob sets fire to Hindu community center in Pak over ‘blasphemy’, Firstpost, March 15, 2014
  15. Pakistan mob sets ablaze Hindu temple over desecration of Koran, Economic Times, April 16, 2014
  16. Hindu temple set on fire in Pakistan over alleged blasphemy, Indian Express, March 16, 2014
  17. "Suicide bombers attack historic church in Peshawar, 60 killed". Zee News. 22 September 2013. Retrieved 22 September 2013.
  18. "GHRD: Article". Global Human Rights Defense. Retrieved 6 November 2014.
  19. "40 die in Pakistan bombing". BBC News. 22 September 2013. Retrieved 22 September 2013.
  20. "Twin church blasts claims 66 lives in Peshawar". Dawn. 22 September 2013. Retrieved 22 September 2013.
  21. "Suicide bomb attack kills 60 at Pakistan church". Associated Press via The Los Angeles Times. 22 September 2013. Retrieved 22 September 2013.
  22. "Two blasts at Lahore churches claim 15 lives - PAKISTAN -". 15 March 2015.
  23. Agencies - Imran Gabol - Nadeem Haider - Waseem Riaz - Abbas Haider - Akbar Ali. "15 killed in Taliban attack on Lahore churches".
  24. "Worshippers killed in Pakistan church bombings".
  25. "Pakistan: USCIRF condemns attack on Ahmadi community; Calls for repeal of blasphemy law". 28 May 2010.
  26. UN News Centre
  27. "Culture of intolerance". Dawn (newspaper). May 30, 2010. Retrieved 30 May 2010.
  28. Hussain, Waqar (11 November 2010). "Christian Woman Sentenced to Death". Agence France-Presse. Archived from the original on 14 November 2010. Retrieved 11 November 2010.
  29. Crilly, Rob; Sahi, Aoun (9 November 2010). "Christian Woman sentenced to Death in Pakistan for blasphemy". The Daily Telegraph. London. Archived from the original on 11 November 2010. Retrieved 11 November 2010.
  30. "Fear for Pakistan's death row Christian woman". BBC News. 5 December 2010. Archived from the original on 6 December 2010. Retrieved 5 December 2010.
  31. "Girl held in Pakistan, accused of burning Quran pages". 2012-08-20. Retrieved 2013-02-18.
  32. Teenager in Hiding After Blasphemy Accusation, Pakistani Police Say
  33. "Pakistani activists alarmed by threats to minorities". Deutsche Welle. 21 Aug 2012.
  34. "Pakistan's blasphemy laws backfire on religious groups". Deutsche Welle. 5 Dec 2014.
  35. "Freedom of speech: The sound of silence". The Economist. 24 January 2015. Retrieved 31 January 2015.
  36. "Minorities fear for their lives in Pakistan". Deutsche Welle. 25 Feb 2013.
  37. Basu, Subho (2010). Riaz, Ali, ed. Religion and Politics in South Asia (1st ed.). Routledge. p. 121. ISBN 978-0415778008.
  39. "Four Hindu doctors gunned down in Pakistan". The Times of India. Retrieved 17 March 2015.
  40. Leo, Leonard. "Pakistan's Educational System Fuels Religious Discrimination". USCIRF.

External links

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