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Religious freedom is deteriorating in Pakistan, new report says

The situation for freedom of religion or belief (FoRB) in Pakistan continues to deteriorate. Multiple violations continue to take place under the leadership of Prime Minister Imran Khan, the report says.


According to the report of Catholic Solidarity Worldwide, political controversy surrounded the country’s general elections on 25 July 2018, which marked the second time a civilian government handed power to another after serving a full term. Amid violent attacks, allegations of voter rigging and suppression of the media, the PTI, led by Imran Khan, emerged victorious despite falling short of the 137 seats needed for a simple majority, 

Religious minorities and progressive thinkers continue to suffer targeted attacks against a backdrop of ongoing
communal violence stoked up by Islamist groups.

The murders of several activists including Khurram Zaki and Sabeen Mahmud sent shockwaves through society, and illustrated the determination of Islamist groups to silence those who defend human rights and challenge the extremist ideology, the report continues.

A disproportionate number of blasphemy cases are filed against Ahmadis (Ahmadiyya is a Muslim religious minority founded in Punjab with a messianic element of faith which in certain aspects contradicts traditional Islam (ed.). On 11 October 2017 three Ahmadi men, notes the text, Mubasher Ahmad, Ghulam Ahmed and Ehsan Ahmed, were sentenced to death for blasphemy. Khalil Ahmed, a fourth accused, was shot and killed in police custody just days after the incident. The three men were arrested in May 2014 after they tore down religious posters calling for a boycott of the Ahmadi community in Bhoiwal, a village about 22km south-west of Lahore.

The state of religious freedom in Pakistan is declining, with ongoing and egregious FoRB and human rights violations taking place. Discriminatory legislation against religious minorities, such as the blasphemy laws and anti-Ahmadiyya laws, have laid a foundation that empowers those with an extremist mindset to carry out attacks. The lack of political will to prosecute perpetrators quickly and effectively, coupled with a weak judicial system and rule of law, have fostered an environment of impunity. This further marginalises religious minorities and weakens their confidence that they will receive justice for crimes committed against them, concludes the text.

For full report, click here.

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