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Religious discrimination in Pakistan

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Religious discrimination in Pakistan is a serious issue for the human rights situation in modern-day Pakistan. Hindus, Christians, Sikhs, Shias, and Ahmadis among other religious minorities often face discrimination and at times are even subjected to violence. In some cases Christian churches and the worshippers themselves have been attacked. Although, there is very little record of this.[1] Khawaja Nazimuddin, the 2nd Prime Minister of Pakistan, stated: "I do not agree that religion is a private affair of the individual nor do I agree that in an Islamic state every citizen has identical rights, no matter what his caste, creed or faith be".[2]

One of the significant issues being faced by minority communities is the abuse of the blasphemy law.[3] People belonging to minority religions are often falsely accused of using derogatory remarks against the Islamic prophet Muhammad, resulting in fines, lengthy prison sentences, and sometimes the death penalty.[4] Often these accusations are made to settle personal vendettas and, due to the bias against minorities, victims are often immediately presumed guilty without any substantive evidence.[4][5]

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.[6][7][8]

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. However, the bill was never ratified by the Governor.[9] 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.[10] In 2014, NGOs estimated that around 1000 girls from minority groups every year are being forcibly converted to Islam.[11][4][12] In November 2019, a parliamentary committee was formed to prevent act of forced conversion in Pakistan.[13]

During the COVID-19 pandemic in Pakistan, reports emerged that rations were being denied to minority Hindus and Christians in the coastal areas of Karachi. The Saylani Welfare Trust, carrying out the relief work, said that the aid was reserved for Muslims alone.[14][15] On 14 April, the US Commission on International Religious Freedom expressed concern with the discrimination. Other organisations, including Edhi Foundation, JDC Welfare Organization and Jamaat-e-Islami are reported to have stepped forward to provide relief to the minorities.[16]

In 2022, Freedom House rated Pakistan’s religious freedom as 1 out of 4,[17] noting that the blasphemy laws are often exploited by religious vigilantes and also curtail the freedom of expression by Christians and Muslims, especially Ahmadis. Hindus have spoken of vulnerability to kidnapping and forced conversions.

Demographics[edit]

According to 1951 census, non-Muslims constituted 14.20% of Pakistan's (West Pakistan and East Pakistan) total population. In West Pakistan (now Pakistan), the non-Muslims constituted 3.44% of the total population while East Pakistan (now Bangladesh) had a significant share comprising 23.20% of the population therein.[18]

One reason for low non-Muslim percentage is because of higher birth rates among the Muslims.[19][20][21][22] Another reason was due to constant migration of India and Pakistan's respective minorities after the partition of India in 1947. However, the main reason as to why the population of minorities declined was due to the separation of East Pakistan (present day Bangladesh) which constituted almost 18%[failed verification] of Pakistan's Hindu population according to the 1961 Pakistani census.[23] After the independence of Bangladesh, all minorities (mostly Hindus) that lived in the former East Pakistan were no longer counted in the census as they were officially Bangladeshis, and not Pakistanis. Due to the fact that Hindus made up the large bulk of the minority population, the percentage of Pakistan's minorities plummeted.[citation needed] Religious minority groups in Pakistan feel the effects of this legal and political marginalization and disenfranchisement in their daily lives.[24]

In the 1951 census, West Pakistan had 1.6% Hindu population, while East Pakistan (modern Bangladesh) had 22.05%.[25] By 1997, the percentage of Hindus remained stable at 1.6% in Pakistan,[26] while in Bangladesh, it had dropped to 9.2% by 2011, with non-Muslims accounting for 10.2% of the population.[27]

According to 1951 census, Non-Muslims constituted 14.20% of Pakistan's (West Pakistan and East Pakistan) total population. In the West Pakistan (now Pakistan), the Non-Muslims constituted 3.44% of the total population while East Pakistan (now Bangladesh) had a significant share comprising 23.20 percent of the population therein.[18]

Much of the decrease in minorities of Pakistan has occurred due to the events around the partition of India, the wars of 1965 and 1971.[28] It has been attributed to reasons like communal violence and discrimination that minority communities face.[4] In the 1941 census of India, areas of modern Pakistan had a population of 5.9 million Non-Muslims. After the Partition of India, about 5 million Hindus and Sikhs left the country.[29]

It is estimated that 95% of Pakistanis are Muslims (75-95% Sunni,[30][31][32][33][34] 5-20% Shia).[30][31][35][36]

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 by 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]

Religious Indoctrination through Education[edit]

During the partition of India, India was divided on religious lines based on the theory of two-nation, which subscribes that Hindus and Muslims were two different nations within India and thus cannot live together due to their difference. The bloodshed during the partition, coupled with three major wars with India and other skirmishes, ultimately support the national policy for the Islamization of the state and the principle of the two-nation theory, wherein the trifecta of Muslims, Islam and Pakistan cannot be challenged. This anti-India view coupled with religious teaching against the Kafir (Non-believer in Islam) Hindus became the primary reasons for discrimination against the Hindus.[40] Indophobia, together with Anti-Hinduism and racist ideologies, such as the martial race theory, were the driving factors behind the re-writing of school textbooks in Pakistan (in both "secular" schools and Islamic madrassahs) in order to promote a biased and revisionist historiography of the Indian subcontinent that promulgated Indophobic and anti-Hindu prejudices. These narratives are combined with Islamist propaganda in the extensive revising of Pakistan's history. By propagating concepts such as jihad, the inferiority of non-Muslims, India's perceived ingrained enmity with Pakistan, etc., the textbook board publications used by all government schools promote an obscurantist mindset.[41] During the 1971 Bangladesh Liberation War, the Indian government decided to support the creation of a separate state for ethnic Bengalis resulting in a war between India and Pakistan. During the war, the government of Pakistan began a nation-wide propaganda against India (by extension against Hindus) and with the Independence of Bangladesh and surrender of Pakistani forces to the Indian side, the government continued the propaganda.[42]

In 1971, textbook reform in Pakistan began with the introduction of Pakistan Studies and Islamic studies by Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto into the national curriculum as compulsory subject. Former military dictator Gen Zia-ul-Haq under a general drive towards Islamization, started the process of historical revisionism in earnest and exploited this initiative. "The Pakistani establishment taught their children right from the beginning that this state was built on the basis of religion – that's why they don't have tolerance for other religions and want to wipe-out all of them."[42]

In 1976, an act of parliament required all government and private schools (except those teaching the British O-levels from Grade 9) to follow a curriculum that includes learning outcomes for the federally approved Grade 5 social studies class such as: "Acknowledge and identify forces that may be working against Pakistan", "Make speeches on Jihad", "Collect pictures of policemen, soldiers, and national guards" and "India's evil designs against Pakistan".[43][44]

From 1977 to 1988, during the rule under General Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq, a program was initiated for the Islamization of Pakistan, under which the Madrassass (traditional religious schools) in Pakistan received state sponsorship for the first time decimating educational institutions based on religious grounds.[45] The number of madrassas number grew from 893 to 2,801 during the Zia years according to one source.[46] Another states that 12,000 were opened from 1983 to 1984. Most were Deobandi in doctrinal orientation, while one quarter of them were Barelvi.[46] They received funding from Zakat councils and provided free religious training, room and board to impoverished Pakistanis. The schools, which banned televisions and radios, have been criticized by authors for stoking sectarian hatred both between Muslim sects and against non-Muslims.[45] The military government of Zia explicitly favored Deobandi madrassas which were promoting more scripturalist interpretation of Islam that could justify jihad. In line with this multifaceted strategy of Pakistan, Barelvis, the majority of the country's population, control only 25% of madrassas, while Deobandis, who make up approximately 15% of the population, disproportionately run 60% of the country's madrassas.[47] The unprecedented increase in the number of madrassas after the downfall of the Zia regime proves that subsequent Pakistani governments, likewise Zia, have been mindful of the benefits that could accrue from supporting and controlling madrassas.[47]

In the early 1990s, Mujahideen introduced military training into the madrassa curriculum in Peshawar, Pakistan, in order to provide a new generation of "holy warriors". In the eyes of Pakistani politicians and policymakers, what was perceived as the Mujahideen’s triumph over the Soviets in Afghanistan, could be also replicated in Indian Administered J&K thus the Government of Pakistan supported and aided the terrorist activities.[47] Furthermore, the ISI agency of Pakistan decided to push aside some educational institutions belonging to moderate political groups and backed more extreme ones affiliated to Islamist proxy forces such as Hizbul Mujahideen, JeM, Harakat-ul-Mujahideen and LeT.[47] The confession of an arrested member of LeT in 2002 showed that he was politically motivated and religiously justified to pick up weapons and kill the kaffirs (non-believers of Islam) of India during the school assemblies.[47] Through the course of moral exclusion, which Abu Masood implemented, adolescents are trained to situate the dehumanized targets into the category of "the others", establishing them as potential enemies who deserve to be killed [47] Qari Hussain, a Taliban commander who has been given the name of “Trainer of Suicide Bombers” confirms that radicalization takes place in madrassas and argues that “Children are tools to achieve God's will. And whatever comes your way, you sacrifice it.” [47]

After 9/11 terrorist attacks, the 9/11 Commission pointed out to Pakistan that almost all of the 9/11 attackers spent some time in Pakistan and traveled the north-south nexus of Kandahar-Quetta-Karachi and stressed that the Pakistani madrassas were being used "as incubators of violent extremism''.[48] This brought the Pakistani Madrassas system in international attention. In 2003 President Musharraf stated during a televised show that they must finish off religious extremism and that they must not use the mosques to spread hatred. In January 2005, Musharraf stated that the use of mosques and seminaries as producers of hate and extremism must be stopped. And few months later in August 2005, President Musharraf announced that they would not let any madrassa harbor terrorists or teach extremism and militancy.[48] But the hearing before the Subcommittee on National Security & Foreign Affairs in 2007 stated that the President Musharraf has made efforts to "take on the threat of extremism but has not shut down extremist-linked madrassas or terrorist camps. Taliban forces still pass freely across the Pakistan-Afghanistan border and operate in Pakistani tribal areas''.[48]

A madrassa was blasted away in 2009 when the explosive took off during the preparation. The bomb was being stored in the home of the madrassa teacher who was a member of a banned terrorist group. 16 were killed including children, and over 120 were injured in this incident.[49]

In 2009, Pakistan introduced the National Education Policy has created three different parallel educational institutions: private schools, public schools and madrassas. Private schools would have more secular-oriented curricula with special emphasis on neutral sciences, while the madrassas would choose Islamic jurisprudence, theology and strict interpretation of Islam over skill-oriented syllabi and in the middle of this contradictory spectrum there are state-run schools, also known as the so-called public educational sector, which provide mix-educational curricula. The idea was that the private and public-school would help in preparing students to be law-abiding democratic citizens and providing them with more secular or neutral education, are less likely to produce students sympathetic to terrorism.[47] But despite that students from private and public schools have been given the opportunity to learn secular disciplines such as mathematics and sciences, the promotion of religious violence was not confined only to the ideological sections of the curriculum, but instead the systemic fusion of violence and hatred can be traced which travelled to different subjects and textbooks.[47] The following quote from a fourth-grade textbook of a public school stands as an example:

“The speed of a Kalashnikov bullet is 800 meters per second. If a Russian is at the distance of 3,200 meters from a mujahid [fighter], and the mujahid aims at the Russian’s head, calculate how many seconds it will take for the bullet to strike the Russian...” [47]

Pakistani textbooks depict non-Muslim citizens of Pakistan in a biased manner, often characterizing Pakistani Christians as representatives of Western or British colonial powers and Pakistani Hindus as minorities within the Muslim-majority population with affiliations to India. This portrayal fosters hostility and animosity. These history books are contaminating and indoctrinating the minds of the youth with a deliberate propagation of false narratives and rigid ideologies.[50] Pakistani historian Khursheed Kamal Aziz has criticized Pakistani history textbooks. He stated that textbooks were full of historical errors and suggested that mandatory study amounted to teaching "prescribed myths". After examining 66 textbooks used at various levels of study Aziz argued that the textbooks supported military rule in Pakistan, promoted hatred for Hindus, glorified wars, and distorted the pre-1947 history of Pakistan[51]

In April 2010, Rana Sanaullah Khan, former Law Minister of Punjab, visited a madrassa operated by the banned extremist organization Sipah-e-Sahaba Pakistan (SSP), Jamaat-ud-Dawa, another terrorist group, received nearly one million dollars from the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) government in Punjab for its allegedly educational programs.[47] In 2011 the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) released a report on the public schools and Madrassas in Pakistan. They found a strong correlation between Pakistani and Islamic identity, considering the religious make-up and strength of Islamic practice in the country. Further they stated that the attitudes toward religious minorities were clear expressions of bigotry, ignorance, and hostility.[52]

The study concluded:

  • Public school textbooks used by all children often had a strong Islamic orientation,
  • 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.[53]

The 2019 report on Religious Minorities in Pakistan compiled by Members of the European Parliament found: "The curriculum in Pakistani schools includes compulsory reading of Qu’ ran, the ideology of Pakistan based on the Islam, the Jihad and Shahadat path. The textbooks in schools extend the intolerance with systematic negative portrayals of minorities, especially Hindus. While teachings avoid denoting the contribution of religious minorities to the cultural, military and civic life of Pakistan, anti-Islamic forces are declared to endanger its very existence. By historic revisionism and unsubstantiated claims which convey religious bias, the Islamic civilization is glorified while religious minorities are denigrated."[11]

According to Pakistani professor Tariq Rahman, Pakistani textbooks cannot mention Hindus without calling them cunning, scheming, deceptive, or something equally insulting. The textbooks ignore the pre-Islamic history of Pakistan except to put the Hindu predecessors in a negative light.[54] The educational materials used in Pakistani schools contribute to the promotion of prejudice and intolerance towards Hindus and other religious minorities. Moreover, a significant number of teachers perceive non-Muslims as "enemies of Islam".[55]

Examples of Promotion of Religious discrimination through Education

The following excerpts showcase the discriminatory and agitative nature of Pakistani school textbooks:

  • The Class III (ages 7–8) book (Punjab Textbook Board) on Urdu teaches that Islam is superior to all other religions.[56]
  • The Class VII (ages 11–12) book (Sindh Textbook Board) on Islamic Studies reads: "Most of the [other] religions of the world claim equality, but they never act on it."[56]
  • The Class VIII (ages 12–13) book (Punjab Textbook Board) on Islamic Studies reads: "Honesty for non-Muslims is merely a business strategy, while for Muslims it is a matter of faith."[56]
  • The Class V (ages 9–10) book (Punjab Board) on Social Studies says: "Religion plays a very important role in promoting national harmony. If the entire population believes in one religion, then it encourages nationalism and promotes national harmony."[56]
  • The Class VI book (Punjab Board) on Islamic Studies says: "Though being a student, you cannot practically participate in jihad, but you may provide financial support for jihad."[56]
  • The Class IV (ages 8–9) book (Punjab Board) on Urdu says: "The better a Muslim we become, the better a citizen we prove to be."[56]

Constitutional & Other Legal Discriminations against Religious Minorities[edit]

Constitution of Pakistan[edit]

While the struggle for the Independence of Pakistan was going on, Jinnah had unequivocally said that Pakistan would be a secular state.[57] But late the Objectives Resolution was adopted by the Constituent Assembly of Pakistan on March 12, 1949 which proclaimed that the future constitution of Pakistan would not be modeled entirely on a European pattern, but on the ideology and democratic faith of Islam. The resolution, in its entirety, has been made part of the Constitution of Pakistan under Article 2(A). This followed a judicial tussle to declare the Objectives Resolution as the "grundnorm" for Pakistan and, therefore, impliedly held that it stands above even the Interim Constitution or any Constitution that may be framed in the future, bring Article 2A as a major part of Constitutional debate. Though the debate was definitively resolved by the Supreme Court in the Hakim Khan case stating that Article 2A is neither self-executory nor has a supra-constitutional status.[58]

Tolerance for religious discrimination can be found in the Constitution of Pakistan. Islam is named as the religion of the state, and whilst there is a provision allowing for minorities to practice their religions, they are still subject to the principles of "democracy, freedom, equality, tolerance and social justice as enunciated by Islam".[11]

The Preamble of the Constitution of Pakistan reads "Wherein adequate provision shall be made for the minorities freely to profess and practise their religions and develop their cultures" but after the coup of 1977 under General Zia-ul-Haq initiated the Islamization in Pakistan and the word “freely” was deleted from the Preamble and Article 2A that carried the original Objectives Resolution. It was later reinserted under the 18th Amendment.[58][59]

Though the constitution recognizes the universal fundamental right of freedom of religion, it is subjected to a rider at the beginning of Article 20, namely “Subject to law, public order and morality”. This exception intended merely to protect public order in exceptional cases, has damaged the rule of freedom of religion in Pakistan.[58]

Other provisions that are outrightly discriminatory are -

Article 41(2) provides that only Muslims can become President and the Prime Minister.,[60] thereby denying minorities the chance to hold the highest position of power.[11] The Third Schedule to the constitution, which contains the text of the oath to be taken by the President before entering upon the said office, specifically provides, in relevant part, that the candidate shall affirm that he is a Muslim and believes in the Oneness of Allah, the Holy Quran, and that the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) was the last of the prophets of Allah.[58] Initially, there was no such bar of religion against the election of the Prime Minister. Article 91, in the original 1973 Constitution was substituted by P.O. No. 14 of 1985, providing that, “after the election of Speaker and Deputy Speaker, the National Assembly shall, to the exclusion of any other business, proceeds to elect without debate one of its Muslim members to be the Prime Minister”, thus debarring the non-Muslims. In 2019, Naveed Amir, a Christian member of the National Assembly moved a bill to amend the article 41 and 91 of the Constitution which would allow non-Muslims to become Prime Minister and President of Pakistan. However, Pakistan's parliament blocked the bill.[61][58] Furthermore, in Shahid Orakzai case, the Supreme Court of Pakistan held that "the legislature may in its domain subject to the Constitution and the principle of equality before law and equal treatment before law can make a law that a non-Muslim citizen cannot be appointed against a particular post".[58]

Article 227(1) states that "All existing laws shall be brought in conformity with the Injunctions of Islam as laid down in the Holy Quran and Sunnah, in this part referred to as the Injunctions of Islam, and no law shall be enacted which is repugnant to such Injunctions."[62]

Article 228 provides the way for setting up of the Islamic Council, created to safeguard Islamic ideology. The Islamic Council can shape governmental decisions, actions and policy, which creates an institutionalized priority for Islamic ideas to the detriment of religious minorities.[11][62]

Article 260(3) provides the legal definition between a Muslim and a non-Muslim. The articles define “Muslim” as "a person who believes in the unity and oneness of Almighty Allah" while define "non-Muslim" as "a person who is not a Muslim and includes a person belonging to the Christian, Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist or Parsi community, a person of the Quadiani Group or the Lahori Group who call themselves 'Ahmadis' or by any other name or a Bahai, and a person belonging to any of the Scheduled Castes."[58]

Ninth Amendment to the Constitution of Pakistan[edit]

The Ninth Amendment to the Constitution of Pakistan would have imposed sharia law as the supreme law of the land by amending Article 2, 203B and 203D of the Constitution of Pakistan.

The Senate passed the bill and sent it to the National Assembly on 7 August 1986. Wasim Sajjad, the Minister for Justice and Parliamentary Affairs, referred the bill to committee. The committee was supposed to submit a report regarding the proposed amendment within 30 days but before the report could be presented, the National Assembly was dissolved and the bill lapsed.[63]

Hudud Ordinance[edit]

The Hudud Ordinances are laws in Pakistan enacted in 1979 as part of the Islamization of Pakistan by Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq, the sixth president of Pakistan. The Hudood Law was intended to implement Shari'a law or bring Pakistani law into "conformity with the injunctions of Islam", by enforcing punishments mentioned in the Quran and sunnah for zina (extramarital sex),[64] qazf (false accusation of zina), theft, and consumption of alcohol. The system provided for two kinds of offences — hadd and tazir — with different punishments to go with them. Hadd offences (fixed punishment) require a higher standard of proof than tazir (discretionary punishment) and their punishments are more severe.[65]

To prove theft liable to hadd, evidence of two Muslim adult male witnesses, who are pure in Islamic concept, is required. A non-Muslim’s evidence will not be accepted for hadd punishment where the accused is a Muslim. In other words, if a Muslim robs a non-Muslim household, the testimonies of non-Muslim victims will not be considered for awarding hadd punishment. However, a non-Muslim may testify in case the accused is a non-Muslim.[58]

Ramadan Ordinance[edit]

During the Islamization in Pakistan, many Shariat laws were introduced. One of them, an Ehtram-e-Ramazan (reverence for fasting) Ordinance was issued banning eating, smoking, and drinking in public places in the holy month of Ramadan. According to a clause of this ordinance, those places including restaurants, canteens, bridges, lanes, and even the confines of private homes. While in theory the non-Muslim minority of Pakistan is exempt from the law, minorities have been arrested for eating in public.[66]

Pakistan Penal Code[edit]

The Pakistan Penal Code (PPC) also contains many provisions that are outrightly discriminative towards the religious minorities in an Islamic country.

Blasphemy Law of Pakistan[edit]

The Pakistan Blasphemy Law derives from section 295-C of the Pakistan Penal Code which states that whoever "defiles the sacred name of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) shall be punished with death, or imprisonment for life, and shall also be liable to fine."[67] This law is phrased in vague terms (therefore violating the principle of legality), and is often used to level false accusations at people from religious minorities. ‘Sentences for these offences range from fines to long terms of imprisonment, and in the case of defamation of the Prophet Muhammad, a mandatory death sentence.’[4][68] 'This law thus serves as a legal justification to persecute religious minorities, or any other person, by means of false accusations in pursuit of personal vendettas or disputes'.[4] By failing to repeal this law, the government is complicit in encouraging discriminatory prosecutions.[4]

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 have been the first woman in Pakistan to be lawfully killed for blasphemy.[69][70][71] Asia Bibi was acquitted in 2018 and travelled to Canada to join her family. She moved to Paris, France in 2020.[72]

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.[73][74][75]

In 2014 Junaid Jamshed was accused under the blasphemy law.[76] 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."[77]

In March 2017 a Hindu man Prakash Kumar was arrested on the charges of blasphemy in the province of Balochistan.[78]

Critics of the blasphemy laws have called for change.[79] In 2019, the US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo appealed to Pakistan to stop the misuse of the law, estimating that over 40 people were serving life sentences or facing execution for blasphemy in Pakistan. [80]

Persecution against Ahmadi minority[edit]

Sections 298B and 298C of the Pakistan Penal Code of 1860 criminalize “the very act of publicly discussing or practicing the Ahmadi faith”.

State Sponsored Violence Against Religious Minorities[edit]

In January 1948, the Indian government started an evacuation process after the partition to protect the minorities during which almost 3000 Hindus began leaving Karachi every single day. The Pakistan administration later found out at that the Dalits and other low-caste Hindus which were heavily employed in the sanitation activities, are fast leaving the city creating a shortage for such administrative task. The sanitation crisis became evident on streets and required roughly 2000 workers but Muslim residents were too prideful to do these types of jobs. Therefore, in February 1948, Pakistan reviewed its administration policies and curbed the large scale migration of the depressed class. When objected by the Indian High Commissioner regarding the obstruction, the first Prime Minister of Pakistan Liaquat Ali Khan remarked that the Dalits and other lower caste of Hindus are required to stay in the city to perform the sanitation activities that were otherwise considered as immoral.[81]

From the inception of Pakistan, the state has utilized religion as a cornerstone, as articulated by Pakistan's first Law Minister, Jogendar Nath Mandal, in his resignation from the cabinet of Prime Minister Liaqat Ali Khan. Mandal mentioned in his resignation letter to the Prime Minister about the success of the state policy of systematic ethnic cleansing of Hindus in the West Pakistan and "near completion" in East Pakistan.[82] He explained in his resignation letter about the anti-Hindu policy pursued by the East Bengal Government especially the police administration and a section of Muslim League leaders. He further emphasized on the multiple cases of abduction and rape of Hindu women of all ages and stressed that no lower cast Hindu girl between the ages of 12 and 30 is alive in East Bengal due to systematic genocidal rape. He further mentioned the use of state in a planned manner through gradual stages in order to either convert the Hindus to Islam or to completely exterminate them. In East Bengal, even the Government servants of the Secretariat stuck work and came out in procession raising slogans of violence against the Hindus. He also mentioned about his stay in Dhaka where the total casualties during the Dacca and East Bengal riot were estimated to be around 10,000, most of which were from the minority Hindus. During the riots, after the whole-scale killing of all adult males, all the young Hindu girls were distributed among the ringleaders of the miscreants. He mentioned that the government officials are encouraging in the Jihad against the Hindus in order to distract the majority muslims from the impending economic breakdown of East Bengal.[83] Jogendar Nath Mandal, who himself belong to the minority religion of Hinduism escaped from Pakistan and took refuge in India in 1950.

The Government of Pakistan, in the name of suppression of Communists, used the police force and local muslims leaders to loot the houses of Hindus and forced the "Hindus to send their women-folk at night to the camp to satisfy the carnal desires of the military." Police officials refused to write any complaints of the Hindus. Hindu Presidents of Union Boards had been replaced by Muslims by coercive measures with the active help and connivance of the police and Circle Officers. Hindu government servants were unjustly superseded by junior Muslims or dismissed without sufficient reason or any cause. The state machinery was used in a planned manner through gradual stages in order to either convert the Hindus to Islam or to completely exterminate them, therefore resulting in state sponsored genocide of the Hindus.[83]

1971 Bangladesh Genocide[edit]

During the 1971 Bangladesh genocide there were widespread killings and acts of ethnic cleansing of civilians in Bangladesh (then East Pakistan, a province of Pakistan), and widespread violations of human rights were carried out by the Pakistani Army, which was supported by political and religious militias during the Bangladesh Liberation War. The violence began on 26 March 1971 with the launch of Operation Searchlight, as West Pakistan (now Pakistan) began a military crackdown on the eastern wing (now Bangladesh) of the nation. During the nine-month-long Bangladesh War for Liberation, members of the Pakistani military and supporting pro Pakistani Islamist militias from Jamaat-e-Islami party killed between 200,000 and 3,000,000 people and raped between 200,000 and 400,000 Bengali women, according to Bangladeshi and Indian sources, in a systematic campaign of genocidal rape. The actions against women were supported by Pakistan's religious leaders, who declared that Bengali women were gonimoter maal (Bengali for "public property").[84] As a result of the conflict, a further eight to ten million people, mostly Hindus, fled the country to seek refuge in neighbouring India. It is estimated that up to 30 million civilians were internally displaced out of 70 million. During the war, there was also ethnic violence between Bengalis and Urdu-speaking Biharis. Biharis faced reprisals from Bengali mobs and militias and from 1,000 to 150,000 were killed.

In Bangladesh, the atrocities which were labelled as a genocide. Time magazine reported in 1971 that "The Hindus, who account for three-fourths of the refugees and a majority of the dead, have borne the brunt of the Muslim military's hatred."[85]

United States government cables noted that Hindus were specific targets of the Pakistani army.[1][2] Notable massacres included the Jathibhanga massacre, the Chuknagar massacre, and the Shankharipara massacre. More than 60% of the Bengali refugees who fled to India were Hindus.[86] It has been stated that this widespread violence against Hindus was motivated by a policy to purge East Pakistan of what was seen as Hindu and Indian influences.[87]

Senator Edward Kennedy wrote in a report that was part of United States Senate Committee on Foreign Relations testimony dated 1 November 1971, "Hardest hit have been members of the Hindu community who have been robbed of their lands and shops, systematically slaughtered, and in some places, painted with yellow patches marked "H". All of this has been officially sanctioned, ordered and implemented under martial law from Islamabad". In the same report, Senator Kennedy reported that 80% of the refugees in India were Hindus and according to numerous international relief agencies such as UNESCO and World Health Organization the number of East Pakistani refugees at their peak in India was close to 10 million. Given that the Hindu population in East Pakistan was around 11 million in 1971, this suggests that up to 8 million, or more than 70% of the Hindu population had fled the country. The Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist Sydney Schanberg covered the start of the war and wrote extensively on the suffering of the East Bengalis, including the Hindus both during and after the conflict. In a syndicated column "The Pakistani Slaughter That Nixon Ignored", he wrote about his return to liberated Bangladesh in 1972. "Other reminders were the yellow "H"s the Pakistanis had painted on the homes of Hindus, particular targets of the Muslim army" (by "Muslim army", meaning the Pakistan Army, which had targeted Bengali Muslims as well), (Newsday, 29 April 1994).

Islamization in Pakistan (1977-1988)[edit]

Islamization or Shariazation, has a long history in Pakistan since the 1950s, but it became the primary policy, or "centerpiece" of the government of General Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq, the sixth President of Pakistan from 1977 until his death in 1988.[51][88] Zia has also been called "the person most responsible for turning Pakistan into a global center for political Islam."[51] Zia-ul-Haq committed himself to enforcing his interpretation of Nizam-e-Mustafa ("Rule of the prophet" Muhammad), i.e. to establish an Islamic state and enforce sharia law.[89]

In his first televised speech to the country as head of state he declared that "Pakistan which was created in the name of Islam will continue to survive only if it sticks to Islam. That is why I consider the introduction of [an] Islamic system as an essential prerequisite for the country."[90]

Unlike in Iran, Islamisation in Pakistan was politically conservative, working against, not with leftist forces and ideas. Zia had little sympathy with Bhutto or his populist, socialist philosophy—captured in the slogan, "Food, clothing, and shelter".[51] General Zia explained in an interview:

The basis of Pakistan was Islam. ... Muslims of the subcontinent are a separate culture. It was on the Two-Nation Theory that this part was carved out of the Subcontinent as Pakistan.... Mr. Bhutto's way of flourishing in this Society was by eroding its moral fiber. ... by pitching students against teachers, children against their parents, landlord against tenants, workers against mill owners. [Pakistan has economic difficulties] because Pakistanis have been made to believe that one can earn without working. ... We are going back to Islam not by choice but by the force of circumstances. It is not I or my government that is imposing Islam. It was what 99 percent of people wanted; the street violence against Bhutto reflected the people's desire ...[51]

Hudud Ordinance[edit]

The Hudud Ordinances are laws in Pakistan enacted in 1979 as part of the Islamization of Pakistan by Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq, the sixth president of Pakistan. The Hudood Law was intended to implement Shari'a law or bring Pakistani law into "conformity with the injunctions of Islam", by enforcing punishments mentioned in the Quran and sunnah for zina (extramarital sex),[64] qazf (false accusation of zina), theft, and consumption of alcohol. The system provided for two kinds of offences — hadd and tazir — with different punishments to go with them. Hadd offences (fixed punishment) require a higher standard of proof than tazir (discretionary punishment) and their punishments are more severe.[65]

To prove theft liable to hadd, evidence of two Muslim adult male witnesses, who are pure in Islamic concept, is required. A non-Muslim’s evidence will not be accepted for hadd punishment where the accused is a Muslim. In other words, if a Muslim robs a non-Muslim household, the testimonies of non-Muslim victims will not be considered for awarding hadd punishment. However, a non-Muslim may testify in case the accused is a non-Muslim. This gave a legal free hand for crimes against minorities.[58]

Ramadan Ordinance[edit]

During the Islamization in Pakistan, many Shariat laws were introduced. One of them, an Ehtram-e-Ramazan (reverence for fasting) Ordinance was issued banning eating, smoking, and drinking in public places in the holy month of Ramadan. According to a clause of this ordinance, those places including restaurants, canteens, bridges, lanes, and even the confines of private homes. While in theory the non-Muslim minority of Pakistan is exempt from the law, minorities have been arrested for eating in public.[66]

In 2011, U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom released the 2011 Annual Report Summary stating that the Pakistani government officials do not provide adequate protection from societal violence to members of religious minority communities, and perpetrators of attacks on minorities are rarely brought to justice. This impunity is partly due to the fact that Pakistan’s democratic institutions, particularly the judiciary and the police, have been weakened by endemic corruption, ineffectiveness, radicalism and a general lack of accountability.[91]

Violence against minorities[edit]

Attacks on religious minorities in Pakistan have claimed hundreds of lives of religious minorities, such as Hindus, Pakistani Ahmadis, Shia, Sufis and Christians.[92]

Women belonging to minority communities have been targets of forced conversions and marriages.[4] Forced conversion, rape, and forced marriages of Hindu women in Pakistan have recently become controversial in Pakistan.[93][94]

Attacks on minorities in the country have led to condemnation of policies that are discriminatory to religious minorities in Pakistan.[95] 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.[96]

The United States ambassador to Pakistan, Anne W. Patterson, issued a statement in 2010 saying that Pakistan had witnessed an increase in "provocative statements that promote intolerance and are an incitement to extremist violence.".[97]

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."[98] Pakistan stands out as one of the most challenging countries for members of religious minority groups to live in, primarily because of the inadequate safeguarding of human rights for these communities. The past years[when?] have witnessed a disturbing escalation in the targeted oppression and violence against religious minorities within the nation.[99]

Ahmadis[edit]

Pakistan made an amendment to its constitution in 1974, declaring Ahmadis as non-Muslims. In the following decade, military dictator Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq prohibited Ahmadis from calling themselves as Muslims.[100]

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[97] Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan, as well as their Punjab wing, claimed responsibility for the attacks and were also blamed by the Pakistani police.

The Ahmadi community released a persecution report in 2018 in which the discrimination faced by Ahmadis in Pakistan has been detailed including "indiscriminate arrests" of people from the community. Ahmadis are forbidden to call themselves Muslims or use Islamic symbols in their religious practices. They are also mandated to declare themselves as non-Muslims in order to vote in general elections. Another report listed 3963 news items and 532 editorial pieces in the country's Urdu-language media for spreading "hate propaganda" against Ahmadis.[100]

In September 2018, several Islamist groups in Pakistan publicly opposed the selection of Atif Mian, who is from the Ahmadi community, as a member of the government's Economic Advisory Council. He was removed less than a week after selection owing to pressure from Islamist groups. Voice of America reported that after the ouster of Mian the "Ahmadi community fears a renewed sense of religious intolerance and discrimination" in Pakistan.[101]

Christians[edit]

In 2005, a mob set churches and Christian schools on fire in Faisalabad, forcing Christians to flee from their homes. In 2009, a mob set fire to about 40 houses and a church in Gojra and burnt eight people alive.[102]

On 22 September 2013, a twin suicide bomb attack took place at All Saints Church[103] in Peshawar, Pakistan, in which 127 people were killed and over 250 injured.[104][105][106][107] On 15 March 2015, two blasts took place at Roman Catholic Church and Christ Church during Sunday service at Youhanabad town of Lahore.[108] At least 15 people were killed and seventy were wounded in the attacks.[109][110]

A church in Quetta was bombed with 9 being killed. The Islamic State group took responsibility for the attack.[111]

According to an Open Doors claim in November 2017, Pakistan had the highest number of Christians killed in the world during the 12-month time period of 1 November 2015 to 31 October 2016, with 76 Christians being killed in the country. Pakistan also topped the list of highest number of documented church attacks, accounting for 600 of the total 1329 churches attacked worldwide during the same time period.[112]

Hindus[edit]

  • On January 4, 2005, 16 year old Hemi and 18 year old Marvi were kidnapped from Kunri village in Umerkot district.[113]
  • On March 3, 2005, 14 year old Raji was kidnapped from Aslam Town Jhuddo in Mirpurkhas District.[113]
  • On December 22, 2005, 13 year old Mashu was kidnapped from Jhaluree village in Mirpur Khas District.[113]
  • On July 23, 2006, 15 year-old Pooja was kidnapped from Lyari town in Karachi District. A judge ruled that she should be released and although she was, she was kidnapped again and has been missing ever since.[113]
  • On August 2, 2006, 16 year old Komal was kidnapped from Hawks bay in Karachi District.[113]
  • On December 31, 2006, 17 year old Deepa was kidnapped from Tharparkar district in Sindh province.[113]
  • In May 2007, members of the Christian community of Charsadda in the North West Frontier Province of Pakistan, close to the border of Afghanistan, reported that they had received letters threatening bombings if they did not convert to Islam, and that the police were not taking their fears seriously.[114]
  • In June 2009, International Christian Concern (ICC) reported the rape and killing of a Christian man in Pakistan, for refusing to convert to Islam.[115]
  • Rinkle Kumari, a 19-year-old Pakistani student, Lata Kumari, and Asha Kumari, a Hindu working in a beauty parlor, were allegedly forced to convert from Hinduism to Islam.[116][117] Their cases were appealed all the way to the Supreme Court of Pakistan. The appeal was admitted but remained unheard ever after.[118]
  • On September 23, 2014, Joti Kumari, a student of Electrical Engineering was kidnapped from Larkana City in Sindh District.[113]
  • A total of 57 Hindus converted in Pasrur during May 14–19. On May 14, 35 Hindus of the same family were forced to convert by their employer because his sales dropped after Muslims started boycotting his eatable items as they were prepared by Hindus as well as their persecution by the Muslim employees of neighbouring shops according to their relatives. Since the impoverished Hindus had no other way to earn and needed to keep the job to survive, they converted. Fourteen members of another family converted on May 17 since no one was employing them, later another Hindu man and his family of eight under pressure from Muslims converted to Islam to avoid their land being grabbed.[119]
  • Hindu sisters Reena and Raveena became the face of forced religious conversion in Pakistan in 2019.[120] It prompted the Indian External Affairs Ministry to ask Pakistan to submit a report about it.[113]
  • January, 2019, 16-year-old Anusha Kumari was kidnapped and the Indian High Commission took up the matter, but no action was taken.[113]
  • In 2020, a 14-year-old Christian girl was allegedly abducted, converted to Islam and married off to a Muslim man in Karachi. However, in the court, the judges maintained that the girl has already had her first menstrual cycle and under the Islamic Shariah Law she should be considered an adult, making her marriage with her abductor legal and justified.[121]

On 18 October 2005, Sanno Amra and Champa, a Hindu couple residing in the Punjab Colony, Karachi, Sindh returned home to find that their three teenage daughters had disappeared. After inquiries to the local police, the couple discovered that their daughters had been taken to a local madrassah, had been converted to Islam, and were denied unsupervised contact with their parents.[122] In January 2017, a Hindu temple was demolished in Pakistan's Haripur district.[123]

In 2006, a Hindu temple in Lahore was destroyed to pave the way for construction of a multi-storied commercial building. When reporters from Pakistan-based newspaper Dawn tried to cover the incident, they were accosted by the henchmen of the property developer, who denied that a Hindu temple existed at the site.[124]

In July 2010, about 60 Hindus were attacked by 150 residents in Murad Memon Goth neighbourhood of Karachi and ethnically cleansed following an incident when a Hindu youth drank from a water tap near an Islamic mosque. About seven were injured, the injured stated that 400 Hindu families were being threatened to leave the area.[125][126] In January 2014, in an attack on a temple in Peshawar, the guard was gunned down.[127]

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.[128][129][130][131] In January 2014, a policeman standing guard outside a Hindu temple at Peshawar was gunned down.[127] The 25 March 2014 Express Tribune citing an All Pakistan Hindu Rights Movement (PHRM) survey said that 95% of all Hindu temples in Pakistan have been converted since 1990.[132]

A senior Pakistani journalist stated that "Wealthy Muslim farmers see [Hindu girls] as fair game for abductions, rape, and prolonged sexual exploitation in captivity. Some notorious religious establishments proudly validate these alleged crimes. State institutions, the police and politicians have encouraged the trend by looking the other way." Harris Khalique claimed that "madrassas provide an institutional backing and that cannot happen if the state does not allow that. I rest the responsibility of such incidents squarely on the state, which fails its citizens."[133]

In 2019, Fayyaz ul Hassan Chohan, the information and culture minister of Punjab province made derogatory remarks against the Hindu community in a television programme.[134][135] However, later on, he apologised for his derogatory remarks and insisted that his remarks were aimed at Indian armed forces and Indian government and not against any Hindu community.[136]

On April 10, 2019, Pakistan decided to restore over 400 Hindu temples which were either demolished or converted for other uses. Pakistan's federal government stated they are fulfilling the longstanding demand of the minority Hindus that their places of worship be restored to them. This action has been welcomed by the Hindu community living in Pakistan. The process will begin with two historic temples in Sialkot and Peshawar.[137][138] According to a recent government estimate, at least 11 temples in Sindh, four in Punjab, three in Balochistan and two in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa were operational in 2019.[137] Out of the 400 temples in Pakistan, only 13 temples are operational where members of the Hindu community perform their religious rituals.[138]

In July 2021, over 60 Hindus were forcefully converted to Islam in the Mirpur Khas District and Mithi areas of Sindh.[139]

A survey carried out by All Pakistan Hindu Rights Movement revealed that out of 428 Hindu temples in Pakistan only around 20 survive today and they remain neglected by the Evacuee Trust Property Board which controls those while the rest had been converted for other uses.[132] In the aftermath of the Babri Masjid demolition Pakistani Hindus faced riots. Mobs attacked five Hindu temples in Karachi and set fire to 25 temples in towns across the province of Sindh. Shops owned by Hindus were also attacked in Sukkur. Hindu homes and temples were also attacked in Quetta.[140] Jain Mandar at Jain Mandar Chowk in Lahore was destroyed by the Muslim mobs in 1992 and the government changed the name of Jain Mandar Chowk to Babri Masjid Chowk, which became the official name.[141] According to the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan data, just around 1,000 Hindu families fled to India in 2013.[142] In May 2014, a member of the ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), Dr. Ramesh Kumar Vankwani, revealed in the National Assembly of Pakistan that around 5,000 Hindus are migrating from Pakistan to India every year.[143]

In June 2023, the Pakistan Higher Education Commission banned the celebration of the Hindu festival Holi on institute campuses to preserve "Islamic identity" and "sociocultural values" which flared the issue of religious discrimination in the country.[144][145][146]

Sikhs[edit]

In 2010, a Sikh youth Jaspal Singh was beheaded in Khyber Agency after his family could not pay the large Jizya ransom. Consequently, thousands of Sikhs had to abandon their homes and flee from tribal areas to resettle in areas with larger Sikh populations, such as Peshawar, Hassanabdal and Nankana Sahib.[147]

In May 2018, a prominent Sikh leader Charanjeet Singh was shot dead in Peshawar. It was the tenth targeted murder of a prominent Sikh since 2014, and "stirred unprecedented fear - and fury - among the community’s members, particularly in Peshawar."[148][149]

On 3 January 2020, Pakistani media reported that "scores of protesters surrounded the Gurdwara Nankana Sahib, on Friday afternoon, threatening to overrun the holy site if their demands for the release of suspects in an alleged forced conversion case were not met".[150] There were also reports of stone-pelting on the shrine by a mob of angry local Muslims, that even threatened to convert it into a mosque.[151]

On 27 July 2020, it was reported that the Gurdwara Shaheed Bhai Taru Singh, which is the site of martyrdom of Bhai Taru Singh, had been forcibly taken over and was converted into a mosque and named as Masjid Shahid Ganj.[152][153]

In June 2023, two Sikh shopkeepers were attacked in a spate of less than 48 hours in Peshawar.[154] One Sikh succumbed to his injuries whilst the other victim survived.[154] ISIS claimed responsibility for the attacks and targeted the Sikhs for being "polytheistic".[155]

Shias[edit]

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.[156][157]

In 2012, Malik Ishaq, founder of the anti-Shia militant group Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, called Shias the "greatest infidels on earth" and demanded the country to declare them as "non-Muslims on the basis of their beliefs."[158] Brad Adams, the Asia director of Human Rights Watch, stated that "The government’s persistent failure to apprehend attackers or prosecute the extremist groups organizing the attacks suggests that it is indifferent to this carnage."[159]

Shia Muslims, who make up 15-20% of the Muslim population in the country, have been "specifically targeted and killed by machine guns and suicide bombers." According to the data compiled by South Asia Terrorism Portal, there have been 446 incidents of violence against the Shia Muslims in Pakistan between 2003 and May 2016, in which more than 2558 people have been killed and over 4518 others injured.[160]

In 2020, the European Foundation for South Asian Studies (EFSAS) in a report entitled, Guilty until proven innocent: The sacrilegious nature of blasphemy laws Pakistan, has said that the biggest proportion of Muslims charged with blasphemy offences belong to the Shia community. The paper has recommended wide-ranging changes to Pakistan's laws and legal systems.[161] Thousand of Pakistanis marched in anti-Shia protests in Karachi, the country's financial hub, during early September, 2020. The march was caused due to Shia clergies making disparaging remarks against historical Islamic figures. The remarks were televised during the Shia Ashura procession. Ashura commemorates the Battle of Karbala, which caused the schism in Islam. Sunni groups demanded that disparaging remarks against any Islamic figures were not acceptable and would not be tolerated.[162]

On January 3, 2021, a group of miners in Balochistan were victims of terrorist attacks. The attackers infiltrated and ambushed a coal mine near Mach, Pakistan; after which they "separated those who belonged to an ethnic group called Hazaras, blindfolded them, tied their hands behind their backs and brutally killed them".[163] The Hazara community is an ethnic community from central Afghanistan of Hazarajat that have a mostly strong Shia religious identity. This event lead to a nationwide outcry and protest on social media. Imran Khan responded to the atrocities by accepting the demands of the attackers which infuriated the Pakistani victims.[164]

Sufis[edit]

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.[165][166]

The 2016 Khuzdar bombing on a Sufi shrine in Balochistan killed more than 47 people.[citation needed]

Forced conversion[edit]

Dargah pir sarhandi, a frequent crime scene of forced conversion and marriage of kidnapped underage Hindu girls

More than a 1000 minor girls, mostly Hindu are forcefully converted every year to Islam in Pakistan.[167][168][169][170][171][172][173][174][175][176][177]

Women belonging to religious minorities have been known to be victims of kidnappings and forced conversion to Islam.[4] Amarnath Motumal, who works for Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, has stated that 20 to 25 Hindu girls were kidnapped and converted every month though the exact number is impossible to estimate.[178] Sadiq Bhanbhro, Researcher on Public Health and Gender-Based Violence at Sheffield Hallam University commented he found reports of 286 girls forcibly converted from 2012 to 2017 in English-language dailies, though this number is likely higher.[179] The 2019 Religious Minorities in Pakistan report compiled by Members of the European Parliament has stated that independent NGOs estimate every year at least 1,000 girls are forcibly converted to Islam, although the number may be higher due to under-reporting.[11] A Pakistan Muslim League politician has stated that abduction of Hindus and Sikhs is a business in Pakistan, along with conversions of Hindus to Islam.[180] Many Islamic extremists believe that it is an achievement to convert a Hindu into Islam, and to do so can earn one a blessing.[4] Abdul Haq (Mitthu Mian) is a custodian of Bharchindi Shia Dargah, who is well known for subverting the legal process in numerous cases of kidnapping of underage Hindu girls, their forced conversion to Islam and marriage to older men at this dargah, as well as inciting violence against Hindus specially by misusing blasphemy laws.[181]

Firstly underage girls are abducted from their homes or where they work, later re-appearing after having been married off to a Muslim.[4] To prevent her from going back home or reporting the rape to the police, she is forcibly married to the perpetrator.[4] Reports obtained by the NGO Global Human Rights Defence indicate that the perpetrators will often put a fake age of the girl on the marriage certificate to hide that she is underage.[4] When the families of the girl try to report this to the police, they are often met by biased officers who refuse to file an FIR (First Information Report). The conversions are backed by powerful religious institutions and leaders who also offer incentives to people to convert.[4] Moreover, the perpetrators will often force the victim to sign a report saying that she converted and married on her own free will, hindering the attempts of the family to have their child returned to them. Additionally, the perpetrators will often file counter-suits against the victim's family for harassment and for attempting to convert the girl back to her former religion.[11]

According to a report from the Movement for Solidarity and Peace also cited by the European Parliament, about 1,000 non-Muslim girls are converted to Islam each year in Pakistan.[182][11] According to the Pakistan Hindu Council, religious persecution, especially forced conversions, remains the foremost reason for migration of Hindus from Pakistan. Pakistan Hindu Council estimated that about 5000 Hindus migrate from Pakistan to India every year in order to escape religious persecution.[183] Religious institutions like Bharchundi Sharif and Sarhandi Pir support forced conversions and are known to have support and protection of ruling political parties of Sindh.[184] This practice is being reported increasingly in the districts of Tharparkar, Umerkot and Mirpur Khas in Sindh.[184]

A total of 57 Hindus converted in Pasrur during May 14–19, 2010. On May 14, 35 Hindus of the same family were forced to convert by their employer because his sales dropped after Muslims started boycotting his eatable items as they were prepared by Hindus as well as their persecution by the Muslim employees of neighboring shops according to their relatives. Since the impoverished Hindu had no other way to earn and needed to keep the job to survive, they converted. 14 members of another family converted on May 17 since no one was employing them, later another Hindu man and his family of eight under pressure from Muslims to avoid their land being grabbed.[185]

Rinkle Kumari, a 19-year Pakistani student, Lata Kumari, and Asha Kumari, a Hindu working in a beauty parlor, were allegedly forced to convert from Hinduism to Islam.[116][117] Their cases were appealed all the way to the Supreme Court of Pakistan. The appeal was admitted but remained unheard ever after.[118] Rinkle was abducted by a gang and "forced" to convert to Islam, before being head shaved.[38] Afterwards, Rinkle reportedly stated that she will stay with her husband rather than return home - her husband and the son of Mitthu Mian met her several times just before her final statement in the Supreme Court.[113] In March 2019, two Hindu minor girls were allegedly abducted on the eve of Holi and forcibly converted to Islam in Dharki, Ghotki District, Sindh.[186] A video showed them being married by a Muslim cleric and another also emerged showing the girls claiming they converted out of their own will. Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan has ordered an investigation into the accusations.[187] On 11 April, Pakistan High Court let the Hindu girls live with their husbands, stated both teenage girls are adult and marry to men with their own will, parents of both girls accepted the verdict and asked for more time.[188][189][190] The court gave the verdict that the Hindu girls were not forcefully converted, abducted and they converted to Islam voluntarily and on their own will.[191][192]

In 2017, the Sikh community in Hangu district of Pakistan's Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province alleged that they were “being forced to convert to Islam” by a government official. Farid Chand Singh, who filed the complaint, has claimed that Assistant Commissioner Tehsil Tall Yaqoob Khan was allegedly forcing Sikhs to convert to Islam and the residents of Doaba area are being tortured religiously.[193][194] According to reports, about 60 Sikhs of Doaba had demanded security from the administration.[195]

Many Hindus voluntarily convert to Islam for easily getting Watan Cards and National Identification Cards. These converts were also given land and money. For example, 428 poor Hindus in Matli were converted between 2009 and 2011 by the Madrassa Baitul Islam, a Deobandi seminary in Matli, which pays off the debts of Hindus converting to Islam.[196] Another example is the conversion of 250 Hindus to Islam in Chohar Jamali area in Thatta.[197] Conversions are also carried out by ex-Hindu Baba Deen Mohammad Shaikh mission which converted 108,000 people to Islam since 1989.[198]

In 2017, a human rights activist claimed that, "At least 25 conversions of young Hindu girls and women take place every month in Umerkot's Kunri and Samaro talukas alone. This area is so deprived and the people, most of whom belong to the scheduled castes, are so powerless that the families know there’s no use in them reporting forced conversions to the police, let alone raising a hue and cry."[199] In 2014 alone, 265 legal cases of forced conversion were reported, mostly involving Hindu girls.[200]

In July 2019, Sindh-based activist Duo Kalhoro stated that "Current statistics estimate that every month, 20 Hindu girls are abducted and converted to Islam" in her province. She added that "Most of the victims are under the age of 18. Some as young as 11 years old. Once the girls have been married off and converted, they are prohibited from contacting their families, leaving them even more vulnerable to exploitation."[201]

Cultural Policies[edit]

In a 1979 address to the nation, General Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq decried the influence of Western culture and music in the country. Soon afterwards, PTV, the national television network, ceased playing music videos or any music other than patriotic songs. Most of the cinemas in Lahore were shut down. (As of 2004, the "Lollywood" film industry of Pakistan produces around 40 films a year, compared to India's thousand or so releases.)[202]

The common South Asian parting phrase "Khuda Hafiz" was discouraged in favour of "Allah Hafiz", which was first used in 1985 in the state-run media as it was said to be more Islamic than the former phrase that allowed for religious pluralism but in reality it divided greetings based on religious lines.[203]

Valentine's Day[edit]

Though Valentine's Day in Pakistan is officially banned, and the Islamist orthodoxy[204] has taken steps to obstruct celebrations, many Pakistanis celebrate the day's festivities.[205][206] In recent years, youth and commercial establishments in Pakistan have supported Valentine's Day festivities and celebrating romantic friendship and love, as noted by journalists Asif Shahzad and Andrew Roche and Safia Bano, a philosophy lecturer. They note that youth in the country, where 60 percent of the population is below age 30 and half are under 18, are influenced more by global trends than traditions.[205][207] Valentine's Day serves annually as a flash point of the culture war in Pakistan.[208]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

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External links[edit]