On March 12, 2018 a conference focusing on the persecution of Pakistani Christians was held in United Nations during the 37th Session of UN Human Rights Council. This event was moderated by Dr Mario Silva, Chairman of International Forum for Rights & Security. The aim was to bring up the persecution of Pakistani Christians under discussion.
Speakers from Pakistan, two Pakistani Christian women Ms. Salma Bhatti and Ms. Shazia Khokhar, also briefed the audience about the current situation in their country. Another Christian from Pakistan, Naveed Walter-President of Human Rights Focus Pakistan also joined the conference through Skype.
Ms. Salma Bhatti, is the Swiss representative of the Human Rights Focus Pakistan. She briefed the audience about forced conversions of Pakistani Christian women. It was detailed that for this purpose Christian females were abducted, sexually abused married to Muslim men and thus forced to convert. She said that this has become common practice in the country. She told the audience that most of the victims belong to economically weak Christian families, therefore their families are not able to pursue legal course of action in majority of cases.
Ms. Shazia Khokhar, human rights activist spoke about the notorious blasphemy laws and told the audience about the heightened misuse of the law. She highlighted the case of Pakistani Christian woman Asia Bibi who was accused of committing blasphemy by her co-workers. She said that a blasphemy accused must flee in order to avoid extra judicial judgment and communal violence oftentimes directed at rest of the Christians living nearby the accused’s house.
Naveed Walter, pointed fingers at the Pakistani authorities for not being able to protect Christians and other religious minorities in the country. He stated that religious outfits with extremist mindset enjoy great influence over the society, judiciary and even the government. This has generated a wave of intolerance and hate towards religious minorities in the country.
Dr. Mario Silva stated that Pakistan has a poor human right record that is evident from the fact the persecution watchdog Open Doors has placed the country on number 5 in its list of worst persecutors of Christians. He highlighted an incident when Sharoon Masih, 17-year-old Pakistani Christian boy was beaten to death by his Muslim classmates as he allegedly used the glass used by Muslim students of the class. Dr. Silva remarked that the incident clearly shed light on the way Pakistani Christians are being treated in Pakistani society.