WASHINGTON: The United States Commission of International Religious Freedom urges Pakistan to work toward better religious freedom environment in Pakistan.
This urgency comes as National Minorities’ Day was celebrated nationwide, on Sunday, 11th of August, 2013. This day came as opening formal opportunity to the Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif; in recognition of the value of religious minority communities in Pakistan. The day held bittersweet irony for Pakistan, as certain sects marked the day as “Black Day.”
Quoting words of Founder of Pakistan Quaid-e-Azam Mohammed Ali Jinnah in his speech on 11th of August, 1947:
“You are free. You are free to go to your temples, you are free to go to your mosques or any other places of worship…You may belong to any religion or caste or creed – that has nothing to do with the business of the state.”
Then again, USCIRF emphasizes on the harsh realities of today’s Pakistan; “How Pakistan has betrayed Jinnah’s vision by failing to fulfill his words with concrete actions that protect religious minorities from harm.” USCIRF states,” Indeed, Islamabad has done little to stem a rising tide of violence against members of Pakistan’s Ahmadi, Christian, Hindu, Shi’a, and Sikh communities.”
Since the publication of USCIRF’s report, the death toll has continued to rise. On July 27, at least 57 people were killed and more than 150 woundedby bombs targeting a market frequented by Shi’a in northwestern Pakistan.
To his acclaimation, PM Nawaz Sharif heaved concerns about the plight of religious minorities in his maiden speech to Pakistan’s National Assembly and tasked his government to crack down on militants targeting the Shi’a.
The USCIRF further vivifies, “Pakistan’s bizarre inversion of justice, in which some are punished for alleged words and beliefs while others commit literal acts of violence against them with impunity and without consequence, must end. One simple step it can take immediately is to reopen the Federal Ministry of Interfaith Harmony and reaffirm its mission of promoting respect for members of all religious communities, particularly religious minorities.”
In the intervening time, USCIRF continues to observe the state of affairs and the Nawaz Sharif government to establish;” whether it should continue recommending that the United States designate Pakistan a country of particular concern, marking it as among the world’s most egregious violators of freedom of religion or belief.”