The United States Commission on International Religious Freedm (USCIRF) recently visited Pakistan. A high level meeting with officials including National Securtiy Advisor Sartaj Aziz, Minister of Religious Affairs, Attorney General and leaders of religious minorities was held.
The USCIRF analyzed that in numerous ways, Pakistan’s blasphemy law and related issued are a growing problem. Religious minorities are facing the affects of this law. It was also stated that despite Pakistan’s claims of being a nation that provides religious freedom and diversity, minorities continue to face the dilemma of being targets of the blasphemy law.
The law openly violates all claims of religious openness but is vigorously implemented in Pakistan. In addition, enforcement of such laws emboldens religious extremist groups and their sympathizers to assault these minorities—as seen most recently when terrorists slaughtered Ismaili Muslims on a bus.
Notably, when it comes to countering the violence, a strong Pakistani Supreme Court ruling in 2014 recognized that the state must do more.
Analysis conducted by the USCIRF concludes to say that despite Pakistan being a multi cultural and diverse nation, minorities are not treated as equal citizens of the nation.
Consequently, they remain convinced that the State Department should designate Pakistan a “country of particular concern” for its continued record of failure in protecting religious freedom. Such a designation would elevate the discussion between Washington and Islamabad by signaling serious concern about current conditions.