European Parliament Inter-group expresses grave concerns over minorities’ situation in Pakistan

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The European Parliament Inter-group on Freedom of Religion or Belief and Religious expressed serious concerns over worsening situation for the religious minorities’ in Pakistan, in a report released recently. The report highlighted the bane of the blasphemy law and its misuse against the minorities.

Religious minorities suffering in Pakistan

European Parliament Conference of Presidents established the inter-group, composed of MEPs from almost all political groups in the European Parliament. In its recently released report titled “The State of Freedom of Religion or Belief in the World,” the group said that about 37 percent of victims of blasphemy laws are from Ahmadiya community. 14 percent Pakistani Christians bear the brunt of the notorious blasphemy legislation.

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The report pointed to the murders of Salman Taseer and Shahbaz Bhatti – two prominent leaders owing to their stance towards the blasphemy law as references. It was stated that publicly critiquing the blasphemy laws still holds dire consequences for the opponents of the nefarious law. In compliance with the inter-group’s report, during the 2014-2015, five individuals received capital punishment over blasphemy charges, and one was handed down a life imprisonment sentence. The total number of prisoners on blasphemy charges reaches 38.

Terror strikes are an escalating threat to the country’ religious minorities. Terror out-fits consider Christians as agents of West and hit them time and again as a consequence of Western activities. The report presented references to the terror strikes at the churches in Youhanabad and Iqbal Park on the eve of Easter celebrations, when Christians were singled out by the terrorists.

The group further pointed out to gender based violence against Christian and Hindu females, confirming that around 700 Christian girls were abducted and forcibly married to Muslim men and converted to Islam each year in Pakistan while 300 Hindu girls are also subjected to same ordeal. The report highlighted that about 11,000 Pakistani Christians are stuck in Thailand in pursuit of asylum.

It was further explained that Hindus, Ahmadis and Shias were also undergoing severe. According to a Hindu lawmaker, 5,000 Hindus evacuate Pakistan every year down to discriminatory treatment, forced conversions and concerns for their safety.