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Pitiable Condition of the Minorities in Pakistan

Pakistani refugees protesting against human rights violations in Pakistan.

I do not agree that religion is the privacy of the individual nor do I agree that in an Islamic State every citizen has identical rights no matter what his caste, creed , race or faith be.

Khwaja Nizamuddin

The above statement was of the 2nd Prime Minister of Pakistan which clearly states the deplorable mindset of Pakistani government at that time which hasn’t changed till date. Pakistan is that one country which has been in light for years because of its faulty decisions whether external or internal. Pakistan is an Islamic State. The base of the nation was formed by Muslim league who aimed to unite the Muslims of India under the umbrella of Islam.

The gory partition of 1947, divided the nation into two; India and Pakistan. The partition was gruesome and horrid. Many were slaughtered, raped, killed, many decided to flee while many decided to stay where they were. Those who decided to stay in Pakistan didn’t know at that time that that decision would cause them and their coming generation immense pain.

Status of Minorities in Pakistan

The total Muslim population of Pakistan is 96.28%. Pakistan is one of those nations which is diverse in nature whether it be culturally, ethnically, linguistically and religiously. If we take a look at the population distribution of the total population then we can figure out that the number of non-Muslims has been declining steadily, owing to the religious persecutions and conversions. Even the Muslim minorities like the Ahmadis, Shias and Bohris are persecuted on caste-lines.

The minorities of Pakistan since the independence are subjected to extreme abhorrence which can be directly reflected on the declining number of minorities in the nation. The Minorities are forced to migrate in different countries just to save themselves from the violence and injustice they have to face in Pakistan. Pakistan is so engrossed in its political relations with other nations that they lost the train of thought about their integral instability resulting in the violence and cruelty occurring against the minorities.

The concept of Blasphemy

The Blasphemy law is illiberality on the part of minorities. This law is a part of Pakistan’s Penal code Section 295C which basically divulges that if anybody is found degrading or defaming the sacred name of the holy Mohammed then he or she will be liable for punishment with death, life imprisonment or in the least cases liable for fine. The concept of blasphemy is not admissible legally as its meaning is transpired as indistinct and vague.

The blasphemy law is being misused since it has been embraced in the Pakistan Penal code. Majority of the population is availing this particular law just to seek revenge and to eliminate the minorities through accusations made against them which is absolutely fallacious. The punishment of the same varies from the decree of the defamation done to the Prophet. Government is lacking to seek justice to the minorities and as a result, this law had only served one purpose that was succouring the ones who embezzled this law for seeking personal discord. 

One of the leading examples of false accusations made against a person was the case of Asia Bibi. She was a Pakistani Christian woman who was imprisoned on the charges of this law. Where in she was falsely accused by the other Muslim women who just because Asia Bibi drank the same water while harvesting got exasperated and falsely inculpated her for infringing the Blasphemy law. She was the first woman who was sentenced to death on the charges of Blasphemy. But further due to inadequate evidence in 2018 she was finally set free. This is just the case of Asia Bibi there are many more such cases. Asia Bibi also in her memoir wrote about the barbaric treatment she had when she was in jail for years.

According to the data given by Centre Social Justice, it shows that a total of 720 Muslims, 238 Christians, 516 Ahmadia and 31 Hindus have been accused of varied clauses of Blasphemy law. There are many more cases of false accusations of Blasphemy law in Pakistan whether it be the case of a Hindu man Prakash Kumar or of Junaid Jamshed or of a Christian girl Rimsha Masih.

Human Rights Violation

Pakistan is one such country which is accountable for uttermost human right violation of minorities. Pakistan’s government has proved abortive in eradicating the inequality happening towards the minorities. Minorities of Pakistan are lay open to a redundant hatred and vehemence. They have to face discrimination and the most tortured amongst them are the women. Women are compelled to marry and even convert themselves to Islam. This issue has managed to gain a lot of censure by the Human rights activist across the globe.

The violations are not only limited to women but also children and other people belonging to the minority. The Government of Pakistan has not only apportioned the minorities with violence but the minorities also face erroneous persecutions against them. They are tormented even when they are in the custody of government officials. And this issue had never been addressed by the media because it was controlled by the Army. 

If you talk specifically about every group of minority and the stumbling blocks they are facing while living in Pakistan, then it is perilous for them to even reveal their identities in the society. If we suss out the situation of Ahmadis in Pakistan we will get to know about the oppression they have been put through. According to the Amendment in Constitution of Pakistan in 1974, Ahmadis are prohibited to call themselves as Muslims. They are even forbidden to use any Islamic symbol during their religious practices and another provision against their will is that in order to vote they need to declare themselves as a Non-Muslim.

There are evident incidents of brutality against the Ahmadia whether it be the Lahore attack of 2010 in which 94 were dead or any other. They are even not allowed to exercise power in the government. If we look at the problems Hindus are facing then we must talk about the temples which are being burnt, the forceful conversion of children, abductions, vigorous marriages resulting in conversions, rape and whatnot. The survey which came out by All Pakistan Hindu rights movement that about 428 temples were there in Pakistan but only 20 survive now.

Christians in Pakistan too are facing the same kind of torment. There are abundant incidents where the churches were either demolished or attacked. For instance, on 22nd September 2013 in All Saints Church, Peshawar, a twin suicide bomb attack was planned claiming almost 127 lives.

The same is the condition of Shias, Sikhs and Sufis, sometimes they are shot dead, killed in an attack or bomb blast. Conversion of other religious groups to Islam is regarded as an achievement and a blessing by Allah according to the extremist Muslims. The minorities are not even allowed to practice their own religion, customs and traditions. They are predominantly living a life which could be easily taken away by the majority and the least they can do is to wait for their ferocious death.

Conclusion

The State must ensure that their minorities feel sheltered and guarded and should perceive themselves as an equal part of the Nation. The majority shouldn’t be a menace for the minority but Pakistan is the total opposite to this notion even the Constitution of Pakistan has some discriminatory provisions such as article 4 clause 2 which only allows Muslims to become President denying the minority to hold a position in the government. Even the government officials don’t consider other religion and effectuating unceasing disrespect to the sentiments of the minorities. The Judicial system whose main purpose is to serve justice is pronouncing judgements against the minorities without any bona fide accusation against them.

Pakistan should look upon the issues of violation against the minorities and should safeguard the rights of the minorities rather than interfering on the matters outside its territory. Pakistan should take certain measures to ensure equal prerogative. Minorities shouldn’t feel the third party in their own nation but should feel that they are a part of equity.

An ethnic minority can live in peace within ethnic majority as long as the majority does not use its preponderance to turn the institutions of the State into an instrument of favoritism or ethnic justice.

Michael Legnatieff

Submitted by Nalini Tamang

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