Prominent Pakistani Christian educationist Professor Anjum James Paul said that Pakistan is becoming increasingly dangerous for minorities. He said that situation is worsening not only for Christians but for Hindus, Sikhs and other minorities in the country. He said that incidents of religion based persecution are becoming more frequent.
In a statement, Professor Anjum James who heads Pakistan Minorities Teachers’ Alliance (PMTA), maintained that revocation of the Minorities Protection bill was disappointing. “We were expecting that such legislation will be adopted by other provincial assemblies followed by National Assembly of Pakistan to make it part of constitution but its sad that on pressure of Islamic parties it is withdrawn.”
Further delineating the history of Pakistan, Professor Anjum Paul said that at the time of formation of Pakistan, religious minorities made about 23% of population of Pakistan. He said that the population of minorities has shrunk to 5%. He said that in line with government gazette notifications of 2002, population of non-Muslims has fallen dramatically because of mass immigration of minorities. He said that minorities have been feeling unsafe in Pakistan, after 1973 when Pakistan was declared to be Islamic Republic.
“The Constitution does not protect their fundamental rights in any sense. There is only protection to Islam and Muslims but even then it is said that all citizens are equal and minority rights are being protected. Unfortunately Pakistani governments have all the times been in the pressure of non-state extremist actors and have failed to protect the minority rights,” he added.
He went on to urge Government of Pakistan to take measures in order to ensure dispensation of rights to non-Muslim citizens. He said that government must take steps to protect minorities, which has nee guaranteed by the constitution of Pakistan. He said that government must act in order to make the religious minorities feel secure in Islamic Republic of Pakistan.
United States Commission of International Religious Freedom (USCRIF) reported: “In 2015, the Pakistani government continued to perpetrate and tolerate systematic, ongoing, and egregious religious freedom violations. Religiously-discriminatory constitutional provisions and legislation, such as the country’s blasphemy law and anti-Ahmadiyya laws, intrinsically violate international standards of freedom of religion or belief and result in prosecutions and imprisonments.
The actions of non-state actors, including U.S.-designated Foreign Terrorist Organizations such as Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (Pakistani Taliban), continue to threaten all Pakistanis and the country’s overall security.”
“While the Pakistani government has taken some steps over the last two years to address egregious religious freedom violations, it has failed to implement systemic changes. Accordingly, USCIRF again recommends in 2016 that Pakistan be designated a “country of particular concern,” or CPC, under the International Religious Freedom Act (IRFA), as it has recommended since 2002.”