Islamabad(Pakistan): The United States, in November, classified Pakistan along with 11 countries that have indulged in or been tolerant towards severe violations of religious freedom as per The Express Tribune. The other enlisted countries include China, Russia, Iran, Saudi Arabia and North Korea. The year 2022 has, so far, been alarming for Pakistan’s religious minorities.
US Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, stated- “Around the world, the governments and non-state actors continue to harass, threaten, jail, and even kill individuals on account of their beliefs”. He further added that the US would not tolerate these abuses. The United States welcomes the opportunity to meet all the concerned governments to discuss the matter and present the measures to get them removed from the list.
Pakistan Foreign Minister, Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, denounced Pakistan’s inclusion of Pakistan into this list while questioning India’s escape from the list. Not only the United States, but the European Parliament‘s Subcommittee on Human Rights(DROI) also urged the Pakistan government to implement apt reforms and legislative amendments in human rights issues and make them well-defined improvements, particularly the prevention of any misuse of blasphemy laws.
Minority Rights have been a topic of discussion in Pakistan through 2022. At the beginning of the year, a mob in Sialkot lynched a Sri Lankan national and set his body on fire. Later, the accused of burning pages of the Holy Quran was tortured to death by a mob in Punjab’s Khanewal district.
The shooting of Pastor William Siraj by unidentified motorcyclists in Peshawar on January 30 led to widespread protests by the city’s religious minorities. Abdul Salam, a 33-year-old seminary student and member of the Ahmadiyya Community in Okara district was stabbed to death in May.
The minority communities in Pakistan, including Hindus, Christians, Sikhs, and Ahmadis, have been under perpetual fear of the majority community. The cases of Abduction forced religious conversions, and marriage of Hindu girls, mostly minors to Muslims, have been commonly prevalent in Pakistan, particularly in Sindh.
Amidst the persecution of minorities, rights experts have stated that Pakistan’s administrative setup needs urgent reforms to protect the safety and dignity of the minorities, including the Ahmadi community.