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Saturday, April 13, 2024

USANAS Foundation appeals to UN, USCIRF and European Parliament over religious minorities in Pakistan


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New Delhi: India-based USANAS Foundation has written a letter to the United Nations (UN), United States Commission of International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) and European Parliament over human rights violations in Pakistan of the religious minorities.

In its letter USANAS has stated:

The gradual increase of the hatred and abuse towards religious minorities in Pakistan has reached to a level that we can call it genocide. Pakistan is moving towards deliberate and systemic destruction of the Ahmadiyya community. In the letter we have explained how Pakistans legal framework has systematically discriminated and established the foundations for the destruction of the minority communities in the country. 

Pakistan uses state mechanisms to prevent Ahmadiyyas to practice their religion. Ordinance XX1 of 1991 in effect prohibited Ahmadiyyas from declaring or propagating their faith publicly, building mosques or making the call for Muslim prayer. To prevent Ahmadiyyas from practicing their religion state uses vigilant public policing on the Ahmadi community. This has led to the infamous 2010 Ahmadiyya Mosques Massacre. 

The electoral laws were designed on the basis of faith, to vote one had to declare either muslim or non-muslim, this meant Ahmadiyyas had to forgo their religion to vote in the elections. In effect they do not have any representation in the country to protect their interests and cannot vote for anyone that would protect their interests. 

The problem with the extremism that the government has injected into people are not only specific to Ahmadiyas. It is hatred and violence towards anyone that is non-Muslim. Today it is Ahmadiyas but this hatred is a shape shifter that can easily be transformed into hatred towards any other religious minority in Pakistan. 

Pakistan does not provide religious freedom to religious minorities. They are forcefully converted to Islam, their livelihoods are taken, products are being publicly boycotted and legislations and judgments are delivered against the religious minorities due to fear of public backlash by the Pakistani courts. The Pakistan state fears backlash from conservative Muslim groups. In 2015 Sindh Assembly passed the Sindh Criminal (Protection of Minorities) Bill, 2015, which made forced conversions punishable by law. Due to the backlash it has received from conservative Muslim groups, the legislation did not see a day light. For decades, Pakistan has systematically “othered” the religious minorities. Everyone has a right to freedom of religion or belief, a right that is guaranteed under article 20 of Pakistan’s constitution and under its international obligations. However, acts like halting of the construction of the first Hindu temple in Islamabad is an unconscionable act of bigotry that must be reversed immediately. The government must work to safeguard the rights of religious minorities as enshrines in Pakistan’s constitution and the international obligations. 

Pakistan needs an independent and inclusive national human rights institution, and not an exclusionary government- controlled one. Excluding Ahmadis from the NCM is just another latest sign of its deeply discriminatory policies towards Ahmadis. As long as the discriminatory laws against Ahmadis and other religious minorities remain on the books, the Pakistani government will be seen as a persecutor of minorities and an enabler of abuses. As long as people feel that Ahmadis and other religious minorities do not have adequate protection, both physical and legal, people would kill them. 

USANAS Foundation has appealed to UN, USCIRF and European Parliament to: 

  1. To clearly condemn the violation of human rights and fundamental liberties in Pakistan.

2. To urge the State of Pakistan to abolish Ordinance XX and the Blasphemy law.

3. To urge the State of Pakistan to fulfil their international obligations. 

4. To take, as a matter of the greatest urgency, all the measures necessary to immediately stop the killing of religious minorities in Pakistan.

5. To pressure Pakistan to form an independent NCM. 

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