U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom – Pakistan
2012 Annual Report – U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom – Pakistan
The government of Pakistan continues to both engage in and tolerate systematic, ongoing, and egregious violations of freedom of religion or belief. Pakistan‘s repressive blasphemy laws and other religiously discriminatory legislation, such as the anti-Ahmadi laws, have created an atmosphere of violent extremism and vigilantism.
Sectarian and religiouslymotivated violence is chronic, and the government has failed to protect members of the majority faith and religious minorities. Pakistani authorities have not consistently brought perpetrators to justice or taken action against societal leaders who incite violence.
Growing religious extremism threatens the freedoms of religion and expression, as well as other human rights, for
everyone in Pakistan, particularly women, members of religious minorities, and those in the majority Muslim community who hold views deemed ―un-Islamic‖ by extremists. It also threatens Pakistan‘s security and stability.
In light of these particularly severe violations, USCIRF again recommends in 2012 that Pakistan be designated a ―country of particular concern,‖ or CPC. Since 2002, USCIRF has recommended Pakistan be named a CPC, but the U.S. State Department has not followed that recommendation.
The religious freedom situation in Pakistan remained exceedingly poor during the reporting period. The Zardari government has failed to reverse the erosion in the social and legal status of
religious minorities and the severe obstacles to the free discussion of sensitive religious and social issues faced by the majority Muslim community. A number of Pakistan‘s laws abridge
religious freedom and freedom of expression.
Blasphemy laws, used predominantly in Punjab province but also nationwide, target members of religious minority communities and dissenting Muslims and frequently result in imprisonment on account of religion or belief. While no one has been executed under the blasphemy law, the law has created a climate of vigilantism that has resulted in societal actors killing accused individuals.
Anti-Ahmadi laws discriminate against individual Ahmadis and effectively criminalize various practices of their faith. The Hudood Ordinances provide for harsh punishments for alleged violations of Islamic law by both Muslims
Anti-government elements espousing an intolerant interpretation of Islam continue to perpetrate acts of violence against other Muslims and religious minorities. The
government‘s response to religiously-motivated extremism remains inadequate, despite increased military operations.
PRIORITY RECOMMENDATIONS: Promoting respect for freedom of religion or belief must be an integral part of U.S. policy toward Pakistan, and designating Pakistan as a CPC would enable the United States to press Islamabad more effectively to undertake needed reforms.
The forces that threaten Pakistani and U.S. security interests largely are motivated by a violent extremist ideology that rejects international human rights standards, including freedom of religion or belief.
To make religious freedom promotion a key element in the bilateral relationship, the U.S. government should urge Pakistan to reinforce the rule of law and align its laws, particularly those regarding blasphemy and the Ahmadis, with international human rights standards; actively prosecute those committing acts of violence against Sufis, Shi‘a Muslims, Ahmadis, Christians, Hindus, Sikhs, and others; unconditionally release individuals currently jailed for blasphemy; and repeal the blasphemy law. Additional recommendations for U.S.
policy toward Pakistan can be found at the end of this chapter.
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