Amnesty International Report 2010 - Millions of Pakistanis suffered abuses as a result of a sharp escalation in armed conflict between the government and armed groups. Pakistani Taleban and other anti-government groups targeted civilians throughout the country, while security forces used indiscriminate and disproportionate force and carried out suspected extrajudicial executions. In areas controlled by the Pakistani Taleban and allied armed groups, civilians faced severe abuses, including arbitrary arrest and detention; torture and other ill-treatment; a near total absence of due judicial process; stringent restrictions on freedom of expression and assembly; religious and ethnic discrimination; and violence and discrimination against women and girls. Violence against minorities increased, with the government failing to prevent attacks or punish perpetrators. There were no executions, although 276 people were sentenced to death. - Pakistan 28 May 2010 Christian minority member Fanish Masih, aged 19, was found dead on 15 September in Sialkot prison where he had been held in solitary confinement. Prison authorities claimed that he had committed suicide but his relatives reportedly noted bruises consistent with torture on his forehead, arms and legs. Three prison officials were suspended for negligence, but no criminal charges were brought against them. REFERENCE: Amnesty International Report 2010 - Pakistan Amnesty International, Amnesty International Report 2010 - Pakistan, 28 May 2010, available at: http://www.unhcr.org/refworld/docid/4c03a80cc.html http://www.unhcr.org/refworld/docid/4c03a80cc.html
ISLAMABAD: Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry remarked that it was a criminal negligence to bring changes in the documents like Objectives Resolution as former president General (retd) Zia ul Haq tampered with the Constitution in 1985 however, the sitting parliament had done a good job by undoing this tampering. At one point Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry observed that the word ‘freely’ was omitted from the Objectives Resolution in 1985 by a dictator, which was an act of criminal negligence, but the then parliament surprisingly didn’t take notice of it. He said the Constitution is a sacred document and no person can tamper with it. The chief justice said credit must go to the present parliament, which after 25 years took notice of the brazen act of removing the word relating to the minorities’ rights, and restored the word ‘freely’ in the Objectives Resolution, which had always been part of the Constitution. The chief justice further said that the court is protecting the fundamental rights of the minorities and the government after the Gojra incident has provided full protection to the minorities. “We are bound to protect their rights as a nation but there are some individual who create trouble.” - DAILY TIMES - ISLAMABAD: Heading a 17-member larger bench of the Supreme Court on Tuesday, Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry termed as criminal negligence the deletion of a word about the rights of minorities from the Objectives Resolution during the regime of General Ziaul Haq in 1985. Ziaul Haq had omitted the word “freely” from the Objectives Resolution, which was made substantive part of the 1973 Constitution under the Revival of Constitutional Order No. 14. The clause of Objectives Resolution before deletion of the word ‘freely’ read, “Wherein adequate provision shall be made for the minorities to ‘freely’ profess and practice their religions and develop their culture.” DAILY DAWN - ISLAMABAD: Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry on Tuesday praised the parliament for undoing a wrong done by the legislature in 1985 (through a constitutional amendment) when it removed the word ‘freely’ from a clause of the Objectives Resolution that upheld the minorities’ right to practise their religion. The word “freely” was deleted from the Objectives Resolution when parliament passed the 8th Amendment after indemnifying all orders introduced through the President’s Order No 14 of 1985 and actions, including the July 1977 military takeover by Gen Zia-ul-Haq and extending discretion of dissolving the National Assembly, by invoking Article 58(2)b of the Constitution. After the passage of the 18th Amendment, the Objectives Resolution now reads: “Wherein adequate provision shall be made for the minorities freely to profess and practise their religions and develop their culture.” The CJ said: “Credit goes to the sitting parliament that they reinserted the word back to the Objectives Resolution.” He said that nobody realised the blunder right from 1985 till the 18th Amendment was passed, even though the Objectives Resolution was a preamble to the Constitution even at the time when RCO (Revival of Constitution Order) was promulgated. REFERENCES: CJ lauds parliament for correcting historic wrong By Nasir Iqbal Wednesday, 09 Jun, 2010 http://www.dawn.com/wps/wcm/connect/dawn-content-library/dawn/the-newspaper/front-page/ziaera-deletion-from-objectives-resolution-criticised-cj-lauds-parliament-for-correcting-historic-wrong-960 - CJP raps change in Objectives Resolution * Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry says deletion of clause on rights of minorities was ‘criminal negligence’ * Appreciates incumbent parliament for taking notice of removal of clause by Gen Zia’s govt in 1985 By Masood Rehman Wednesday, June 09, 2010 http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=201069\story_9-6-2010_pg1_1 CJ lauds parliament for undoing changes in Objectives Resolution Wednesday, June 09, 2010 Says minorities’ rights have to be protected; Hamid says parliament should have no role in judges’ appointment By Sohail Khan http://thenews.jang.com.pk/top_story_detail.asp?Id=29367
Islamization Under Zia
Soon after seizing power, Zia ul-Haq used appeals to Islamic values to legitimize his regime and consolidate his hold on power. He attributed Bhutto's downfall to un-Islamic behavior, and promised to "transform the country's socio-economic and political structure in accordance with the principles of Islam." (34) He first postponed elections promised for 1977, and again canceled those scheduled for 1979 on the grounds that Pakistan's political system was not Islamic. (35) In 1978, Zia expanded the Council of Islamic Ideology (CII) (36) to include many conservative ulama. Under the 1973 Constitution, the CII had been authorized to review existing laws and recommend reforms to bring Pakistan's political, legal and economic institutions into line with Islamic principles. Before 1978, that power had not been exercised, but Zia used the CII to give its stamp of approval to his policies, notably his ruling that Pakistan was to continue under martial law without elections or political parties. (37) Zia's Islamization efforts had their greatest impact on Pakistan's criminal justice system. (38) The potential for misuse of power by the police and jail authorities had existed since colonial times, and successive periods of martial law had further increased the powers of the law enforcement agencies and eroded safeguards against abuses. The effect of Islamization was to bring more people, particularly women, into contact with an already abusive and corrupt criminal justice system and, to increase the state's power over the lives and liberties of its citizens. When Zia came to power, Pakistan had two functioning legal systems: the civil courts system, based on Anglo-Saxon common law and the law of the colonial state, and the martial law courts, which were expanded under successive military governments. Zia rapidly took steps to restrict further the jurisdiction of the civil courts and to bring them under the martial law authorities. (39) The May 1980 Constitutional Amendment Order prohibited the High Courts from reviewing the jurisdiction or judgments of the martial law courts. The Provisional Constitutional Order (PCO) of 1981 went even further, empowering the martial law authorities to decide whether a case would be held in the martial law or civil courts and retrospectively validating everything done by the military regime since 1977. (40) Article 17 of the PCO required judges of the High Courts and the Supreme Court to take an oath to abide by the PCO; those who did not, or who were not asked to, were dismissed. (41) The PCO also curbed the power of the High Court to grant interim relief or bail with regard to a detention order on a habeas corpus petition. (42)
Under Zia, the martial law courts had exclusive jurisdiction to consider any crime defined as a violation of martial law. For example, political meetings or anything that could be construed as "defamation" of the martial law regime were illegal. (43) In addition, the martial law courts had discretion to hear any case involving an offense under the Penal Code. Most cases came before summary military courts, but important political cases were heard before special courts that could impose the death penalty. Both courts suspended safeguards against unfair trials and coerced confessions. Writs of habeas corpus could not be obtained from a civil court to review a military arrest or conviction. Defendants' access to counsel was highly restricted, and proceedings were held in camera, usually within the prison. (44) Throughout the martial-law period, all fundamental rights guaranteed under the 1973 Constitution were suspended, political parties and trade unions were banned, and opposition activists were jailed by the thousands. Mistreatment and torture of detainees, including the flogging of prisoners, were widespread. Zia further undermined the independence of the civilian court system with the introduction of the shariat courts (discussed in full in this report's section on the judiciary). In 1978, he established Shariat benches in each High Court to review all laws to ensure that none was repugnant to the Quran or the Sunnah. In May 1980, these benches were reorganized and centralized under the Federal Shariat Court, which consisted of eight High Court judges or persons so qualified. (45) As a system parallel to the civil court, the effect of the Shariat Courts was to weaken the jurisdiction of the Superior Courts, create insecurity amongst superior judiciary and make unnecessary inroads in a judicial system that could have dealt with the Shariat jurisdiction in its existing structure. (46)
In 1981 and again in 1982, the structure of the Federal Shariat Court was amended to reduce the number of civil judges, or persons so qualified, and to add ulama to the bench. (47) In 1983, 150 qazi (religious judge) courts were also established at the district level. (48) Zia took other steps to reinforce the process of Islamizing the legal system. Among these were the promulgation of the Hudood Ordinances (1979) and the Qanun-e-Shahadat (Law of Evidence) Order (1984). Both of these laws have had a devastating effect on the rights of women. (49) Zia's foreign policy interests also had an impact on domestic Islamization efforts. The year after Zia seized power, civil war broke out in Afghanistan. That war intensified with the Soviet invasion of 1979, driving some three million refugees into Pakistan. Zia immediately offered support to the resistance, reorganizing and expanding the military intelligence agency, ISI, as the pipeline for assistance to the mujahidin. (50) The resistance groups favored by the ISI advocated the installation of a radically fundamentalist Islamic state in Afghanistan and Zia hoped that by aiding them, Pakistan would continue to have influence over Afghanistan once they were in power. (51) In December 1984, Zia called for a referendum on his policies and continued rule. Opposition groups called for a boycott, which was declared illegal under martial law. The government claimed to have received widespread support in the referendum, which Zia asserted gave him a mandate to continue in office until 1989. Opposition sources and foreign journalists reported that voter turnout had been very low. In February 1985, general elections (which had been postponed in 1977 and canceled again in 1979) were held for the National Assembly. Political parties were banned from participating in the elections, and many individuals associated with political parties were barred from running as individuals. Again, advocating a boycott was declared illegal, and hundreds of opposition leaders were detained before the elections. Mohammed Khan Junejo, who along with other Pakistan Muslim League party members ran as individuals, became the new prime minister.
The new Assembly's first order of business was to adopt the Eighth Amendment to the Constitution, which ensured that all constitutional amendments, laws and orders promulgated during the martial law period, including all the new Islamic laws, were affirmed, adopted and declared, notwithstanding any judgement of any court, to have been validly made by competent authority and, notwithstanding anything contained in the Constitution, could never be called into question in any court on any ground whatsoever. Adopting the Eighth Amendment was the precondition for the lifting of martial law, which took place on January 1, 1986. With the end of martial law, the PCO was repealed. Under the Revival of the Constitution 1973 Order, the Constitution was restored, but it had been drastically amended to increase the powers of the president over the judiciary and National Assembly and to ensure that President Zia remained in control even after martial law was lifted. (52) Over the next two years, opposition parties began to demonstrate openly, but some restrictions remained and several hundred opposition party leaders remained in prison. Ethnic tension in Sind province between Pathans, Sindhis and Muhajirs continued to escalate, erupting in street gunbattles and car bomb attacks. In a surprise move on May 29, 1988, Zia dismissed the government of Prime Minister Junejo and called for national elections to be held within 90 days. (53) On August 1 of that year, Zia, along with several senior military officers and U.S. Ambassador Arnold Raphel, was killed in a plane crash, the cause of which has never been determined. The president of the Senate, Ghulam Ishaq Khan, became acting president. Following a Supreme Court ruling, elections for prime minister were held on a party basis, pitting the PPP under Benazir Bhutto, daughter of Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, against an alliance of conservative and Islamist parties known as the IJI (Islami Jamhjoori Ittehad, or Islamic Democratic Alliance) under Punjab Chief Minister Nawaz Sharif. When the election was held on November 16, the PPP won 93 and the IJI 55 of the 205 seats contested. (54) REFERENCE: Double Jeopardy Police Abuse of Women in Pakistan http://www.hrw.org/reports/1992/pakistan/ Police Abuse of Women in Pakistan JUNE 21, 1992 http://www.hrw.org/en/news/1992/06/20/police-abuse-women-pakistan
Muslims Target Christian Evangelists in Pakistan
In this photo taken on Wednesday, Aug. 5, 2009, a man carries a child out of a house after it was attacked by a mob in Gojra, Pakistan. Non-Muslims make up less than 5 percent of Pakistan's 175 million people. They are especially vulnerable to anti-blasphemy laws that carry the death penalty for derogatory remarks or any other action against Islam, the Quran or the Prophet Muhammad. Minority Rights Group International, a watchdog organization, lists Pakistan seventh on the list of 10 most dangerous countries for minorities, after Somalia, Sudan, Afghanistan, Iraq, Myanmar and Congo. (AP Photo/Alexandre Meneghini) - LAHORE, Pakistan | Christians in Pakistan are feeling increasingly insecure after several violent attacks by Muslim extremists in the past two months. In one case, eight Christians were burned to death by a Muslim mob after reports that the Muslim holy book, the Koran, had been desecrated. Growing Talibanization of the country and a blasphemy law in place for two decades make non-Muslims, especially Christians, easy targets for discrimination and attacks, Christian and human rights activists say. "The attacks on Christians seem to be symptomatic of a well-organized campaign launched by extremist elements against the Christian community all over central Punjab since early this year," Human Rights Commission of Pakistan Chairwoman Asma Jehangir said at a press conference last month. The situation has become so serious that Pope Benedict XVI and Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari discussed it during a meeting Thursday at the papal summer retreat in Castel Gandolfo, near Rome, the Associated Press reported. The Vatican said the two stressed "the need to overcome all forms of discrimination based on religious affiliation, with the aim of promoting respect for the rights of all." Most of the attacks on Christians' houses and churches followed claims of desecration of the Koran. Subsequent investigations generally proved the claims to be false. Pakistani Minority Affairs Minister Shahbaz Bhatti, a Christian himself, said that no Christian would even think of desecrating the Koran. Some elements wanted to create an atmosphere of disharmony, but the government would not allow anybody to play with the lives and properties of the Christians, he said. REFERENCE: Muslim threats to Christians rise in Pakistan 4:45 a.m., Sunday, October 4, 2009 http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2009/oct/04/muslim-threats-to-christians-on-rise-in-pakistan/
Religious minorities, Christian communities in particular, also saw heightened threats to their security in 2002. On March 17, two unidentified men threw six grenades at the Protestant International Church in a diplomatic enclave in Islamabad, killing five people and injuring forty others. On August 5, six Pakistani guards were killed during an attack on the Murree Christian School, a missionary school for foreign students forty miles east of Islamabad, when four gunmen stormed the premises. The gunmen, who had escaped to nearby woods, blew themselves up with hand grenades when they were found and surrounded by police. Only four days later, unidentified attackers hurled grenades at a chapel in a missionary hospital in Taxila, twenty-five miles west of Islamabad, just as the women of the congregation were leaving from the daily morning prayer. Three nurses were killed in the blast, as was one of the assailants, while twenty others were injured. The violence extended to Christian humanitarian aid workers on September 25, when two gunmen entered the Institute for Peace and Justice (IPJ) in Karachi, and killed seven people by shooting them point blank in the head. All of the victims were Pakistani Christians. The All Pakistan Minorities Alliance and the National Commission for Justice and Peace condemned the attacks, asserting that Pakistan's Christians were being victimized for Pakistan's alliance with the U.S. The massacre was followed by a three-day mourning and protest, organized by Christian groups in Pakistan. At this writing, no arrests of the killers had been made, but those protesting had been detained. Pakistan REFERENCE: http://www.hrw.org/wr2k3/asia8.html
Christians in Danger - Pakistan
Christians in Danger - Pakistan http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K3xOf_Fki94 - Feb 2002 - In the dust and ruins of the slums of Islamabad, 500 Christian families cram into tattered tents. "Christians come from the poorest and most oppressed class in society," says the local Bishop. Few can afford proper schooling for their children. Even the traditional route of becoming a cleaner for a Muslim family is under threat. Since the attack on a Catholic church in Bahawalpur, which killed 22 church goers, the entire Christian community in Pakistan in nervous. With American pressure in Afghanistan and the Middle East mounting, the already unpopular Christians are the first victims of increased radicalisation. However, a visit to Rawalpindi girls' school shows a rare sight -- Christian and Muslim children taught together. Despite the armed guards at the doorway, they strive for their motto "work in peace". However, Christians in Islamabad are still prisoners of their poverty and their future is bleak.
The struggle of Pakistan's Christians
CARING: Christians in today's Pakistan (2% of the population) have paid a high price for being in the minority. In Islamabad, the capital, a community of 5,000 of them live in extreme poverty, literally walled-off from the rest of society. REFERENCE: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sSvZYxlFzhQ
A burnt house of a Christian family in Azafi Abadi at Chak 95-JB on Gojra-Faisalabad Road. – Photo by White Star - Courtesy Daily Dawn Pakistan Christians’ homes burnt over ‘desecration’ dated Sat, 01 Aug, 2009 Sha'aban 09, 1430 http://www.dawn.com/wps/wcm/connect/dawn-content-library/dawn/the-newspaper/national/christians-homes-burnt-over-desecration-189
Christians in Pakistan are suffering relentless persecution
Christian persecution in Pakistan
1 - A JUDGMENT by the High Court in Lahore is worrying Pakistan's Christians. The court decided recently that Pakistan's blasphemy laws are applicable to all the phrophets of Islam. Jesus is a prophet in Islamic teaching. By worshipping Jesus as the son of God, Christians are, it could be argued, committing a blasphemy. The Bible itself, which Islamic scholars regard as not strictly factual, might be reckoned to contain blasphemies against Abraham, Noah, David and Jacob, all of whom are in the Islamic canon. Blasphemy carries the death sentence in Pakistan. Reference: Prophet and loss: Pakistan. (blasphemy law) The Economist (US) May 7, 1994. http://www.encyclopedia.com/The+Economist+(US)/publications.aspx?pageNumber=1
2 - The two cleaners from Jhang district, 300 miles south of Islamabad, were jailed by a Faisalabad court in 1999 under Pakistan's draconian blasphemy laws, having been wrongly accused of burning a copy of the Koran. Because the law can be invoked on the word of just one witness, it is frequently manipulated by Muslims to settle scores or rouse religious tensions. Reference: Pakistan's blasphemy laws used to persecute non-Muslims Massoud Ansari in Lahore and Michael Hirst Published: 12:01AM BST 25 Jun 2006 http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/1522285/Pakistans-blasphemy-laws-used-to-persecute-non-Muslims.html
3 - Lahore: March 2, 2009. (SLMP report) Two Christians named Wallayat Masih son of Saraina Masih alias Sala resident of village Maloki District Kasur and Mushtaq Masih son of Sooba Masih resident of Kareem Park Bank Stop Lahore have been charged under blasphemy law vide case registered vide First Information Report (FIR) No. 33 dated 1st March 2009, under section 295 B & C with police station Theh Shaikham District Kasur, both have been arrested and presently detained in the local police station. 7 team members from CLAAS and SLMP visited village Maloki for fact finding today on 2nd March 2009. Mr. Joseph Francis the National Director Center for Legal Aid Assistance & Settlement (CLAAS) and Chief Coordinator Sharing Life Ministry Pakistan (SLMP) led the team. Reference: Two Christians Charged Under Blasphemy Law in Kasur, Punjab. July 6, 2009, 2:36 pm http://www.pakistanchristianpost.com/headlinenewsd.php?hnewsid=1003
4 - Pakistan's human rights commission has reacted strongly after the country's military ruler gave up plans to change the way in which a controversial blasphemy law is implemented. A number of Islamic organisations had threatened to hold demonstrations on Friday to protest against the proposed changes. But General Musharraf has said that he now plans to leave the laws completely unchanged. Bishop John Joseph killed himself in protest at the blasphemy laws. Reference: Pakistan's blasphemy law U-turn Wednesday, 17 May, 2000 http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/south_asia/751803.stm
5 - Faisalabad (AsiaNews) – Bishop John Joseph, who committed suicide in 1998 to protest the blasphemy law, was recalled today in a mass in the Cathedral of St Peter and St Paul in Faisalabad. Mgr Andrew Francis of Multan and Mgr Joseph Coutts of Faisalabad participated in the celebration, together with dozens of priests. In his homily, the bishop of Multan described Mgr Joseph as a "perennial voice of ecumenical and inter-faith dialogue", who "preached the words of the Gospel with all his life". Reference: Mgr John Joseph, blasphemy martyr, remembered by Qaiser Felix 05/06/2006 17:59 http://www.asianews.it/index.php?l=en&art=6099 - Analysis: Pakistan's Christian minority Monday, 29 October, 2001 - http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/south_asia/1625976.stm
6 - "As it was the unanimous demand of the Ulema, Mashaikh and the people, therefore, I have decided to do away with the procedural change in registration of FIR under the blasphemy law" (General Musharraf, Dawn 17.5.2000). How was public opinion determined? No one asked me! Is the reference to ulema and mashaikh to the self-proclaimed ones or men and women of Islamic learning? And did populism prevail over Islam? Why was no attempt made to enter into a debate, or at least a learned Islamic discourse? What was the role of the two ministers (religious affairs and law) who are primarily concerned with this issue? One does not recollect any valuable contribution from these two sources. Reference: NEED TO CHECK MISUSE OF BLASPHEMY LAW (28 May 2000) EDITOR'S NOTE: An article entitled "Need to Check Misuse of Blasphemy Law" by Qazi Faez Isa, was published in DAWN, Karachi, on Sunday, May 28, 2000 http://ecumene.org/INRFVVP/blasphemy.htm
7 - The blasphemy laws were legislated and subsequently made more strict to ensure protection to the minorities. But some recent incidents have shown that even the Muslims were victimized under the present blasphemy law on the complaint of other fellow Muslims. The most recent example is provided by gory murder of Yusuf Kizab in the Kot Lakhpat Jail by an activist of the banned Sipahe-i-Sahaba. Yusuf had been sentenced to death sentence under the blasphemy laws. The worst example was the suicide of Father John Joseph some four years ago. On the eve of May 6, 1998 Dr Joseph, the Bishop of Faisalabad, committed suicide in front of the Sessions Court, Sahiwal to protest against the death sentence of a Christian Ayub Masih, pronounced by the court under the blasphemy law. Reference: The Impact of The Blasphemy Law by Mohammad Shehzad Issue No.4, September 2002 Copyright © The DAWN Group of Newspapers http://www.sikhspectrum.com/092002/shehzad.htm
8 - The barbaric murder of Jagdeesh Kumar, accused of blasphemy by some of his workmates at a garment factory in Karachi, brings out in sharp focus once again the exposed and vulnerable situation of non-Muslims in a Pakistan still wedded to the legacy of General Zia-ul-Haq. When the police finally intervened, the body of the 22-year-old victim had been mutilated and disfigured beyond recognition: among other things the eyes had been gouged out. The reports published indicate that he was a quiet man, from a poverty-stricken Hindu family belonging to some obscure village in the Sindh desert. People with such a depressed and vulnerable background come to factories to seek out a miserable living, not to engage in religious controversies. In the days and weeks ahead, we will learn that some petty personal quarrel or irrational hatred of a Hindu was the real reason for his murder. Reference: Blasphemy and persecution by Ishtiaq Ahmed Saturday, April 26, 2008 http://thenews.jang.com.pk/daily_detail.asp?id=108906
Human Rights Commission of Pakistan Text/Report to support questions.
HRCP Annual Report - State of Human Rights in 2008 http://www.hrcp-web.org/3-2%20freedom%20of%20thought%202008.pdf
Freedom of thought, conscience and religion
... It is the will of the people of Pakistan to establish an order ... wherein shall be guaranteed fundamental rights, including equality of status, of opportunity and before law, social, economic and political justice, and freedom of thought, expression, belief, faith, worship and association, subject to law and public morality.
Constitution of Pakistan
Subject to law, public order and morality (a) every citizen shall have the right to profess, practise and propagate his religion; and (b) every religious denomination and every sect thereof shall have the right to establish, maintain and manage its religious institutions.
All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.
Universal Declaration of Human Rights
Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance.
No one shall be subject to coercion which would impair his freedom to have a religion or belief of his choice. No one shall be subject to discrimination by any state, institution, group of persons, or person on the grounds of religion or other belief.
Reserved seats for minorities in parliament
The system of reserved seats for minorities and women introduced by President Musharraf in 2002 failed to fulfil the required objective of giving a political voice to minorities. The minorities’ representatives in the assemblies usually followed the line of the party that got them elected and not the interest of their communities. In early February, the World Minorities’ Alliance Convener, Mr. J. Salik, said the current system did not allow any minority person to contest elections independently on the minorities’ seat. He had challenged that process in the Supreme Court in 2002 but to date no hearing had been set. (N, Feb 6) A minority representative said: “When the Hasba Bill was approved in the NWFP, two persons elected by the MMA on reserved seats also voted for it. This instance showed that representatives of religious minorities elected on reserved seats were not free to pursue private agendas”. (DT, Feb 24)
Freedom of Religion
As in previous years, the spread of hatred against the Ahmadis continued. At least six Ahmadis were murdered because of their faith during 2008.
An anchorperson of a popular TV channel held a prime-hour discussion commemorating the 1974 amendment to the Constitution declaring Ahmadis as “not Muslims”. The programme ended with a verdict by a participating mufti, of an extremist school, that the Ahmadis deserved to be murdered for deviating from the view of the finality of the prophethood of the Holy Prophet (PBUH). Neither the TV channel nor the anchorperson was chastised by the government for the virulent broadcast. Following the TV discussion, three Ahmadis were shot dead in early September – Dr. Abdul Mannan Siddiqui in Mirpurkhas, Seth Yusuf, a Nawabshah trader, and Sheikh Saeed at his pharmacy in Karachi. (D, Sep 21)
In Lahore in late May the International Khatm-e-Nabuwwat Movement (IKNM) announced a moot to be held at the Aiwan-e-Iqbal. IKMN Ameer MPA Maulana Ilyas Chinoti added the moot would mark a hundred years of successfully countering Qadiyaniat. (N, May 23)
In Faisalabad in early June, a mob of 300 college students barged into the rooms of Ahmadi students, beat them up and threw their belongings out of their rooms. The boarders also stole valuables from the Ahmadi students. The Punjab Medical College (PMC) through a notification rusticated 23 Ahmadi students on the report of the disciplinary committee. It was alleged that they were preaching and distributing Ahmadi literature. (DT, Sep 9) The students suffered harassment and interruption in their studies for months before they were allowed to resume their studies. In Shabqadar, Charsadda district, local clerics refused to lead the funeral prayers for a man believed to be an Ahmadi. The local clerics issued a fatwa (decree) that the deceased had become an Ahmadi and, therefore, no one would lead his funeral prayers. (DT, Sep 23)
The Christian community was discriminated against and the marginalisation of an already poor and disenfranchised community continued with the State offering virtually no protection. In early January, dozens of Christians held a protest outside the Lahore Press Club against the occupation of their homes in Bakar Mandi by influential people with the support of the government. The protesters said they had been living on the government property since pre-partition time but now they were being forced out. They said that the residents were very poor and had no means to buy houses; they had no shelter and had been left with no option but
to commit suicide along with their children. (N, Jan 7)
In late February, the Christian residents of Chananpura, Bakar Mandi, claimed that they were under siege by “land grabbers” who continued to harass and threaten them despite an ongoing civil lawsuit to decide ownership of the disputed land. The residents claimed that armed men, acting on behalf of the alleged land-grabbers, stripped and beat one of their young men, Faqirah Masih. They also hurled threats at him of bulldozers demolishing their prepartition homes. (D, Feb 23)
In Lahore, two minority councillors were injured during a scuffle in a meeting of the Lahore district council when they had attempted to move a resolution against a blast that damaged a church and also draw attention to the Freedom of thought, conscience and religion 7 7
illegal occupation of the Church of Christ in Garden Town by land grabbers. (D, Mar 17)
In late May, Christians protested against the Defence Housing Society, Lahore, for desecration and bulldozing of the graves in a Christian graveyard situated on Walton Road. The Christians alleged that they were being stopped from burying their dead in the graveyard. In June, 20 minority members of the Christian community, in Peshawar, were kidnapped and beaten up at a charity dinner for the members. The attackers, who came in land cruisers and pick-up trucks, attacked the Christians who were in the middle of their prayers. The attackers threatened them of similar attacks in the future if the “Christian community did not mend its ways”. (D, Jun 22)
The Hindus of the scheduled class were neglected and ignored in every walk of life. At a conference at the Lahore Press Club, the Haray Rama Foundation and Guru Gorakh Naath Sewa Mandal director protested that there was no lower caste Hindu or other caste MPA or MNA representing the non-Muslims in Punjab. He stated that the lower caste was given no representation in the 10 national assembly and 23 provincial
assembly seats. (N, Jan 5) In Hyderabad, the low caste Hindus staged a demonstration outside the press club protesting discrimination towards them by successive governments. They said that the lower caste constituted 95 percent of the Hindu population; the 5 percent upper caste Hindus became MPAs and MNAs and patronised only their own class. (D, Oct 26)
The Sikhs had no representation in parliament and could not hope to have their issues taken up. In Lahore, Dr. Swaran Singh of the Pakistan Sikh Gurdwara stated Sikhs in the country (about 12,000 in
number) faced social and political problems because of a lack of direct access to the government. While Christians and Hindus had representations in the government, Sikhs had none. Many Sikh youths were deprived of quality higher education because there was no scholarship quota in the Higher Education Commission. Further, the poor Sikhs did not receive financial relief from the government. Christian and Hindu widows received Rs 5, 000 per month but the Sikh widows were deprived. (DT, May 3)
Blasphemy laws and their victims
In Karachi, a Hindu factory worker, Jagdeesh Kumar, was killed outside his workplace by a mob, which comprised of many of his colleagues. He was allegedly accused of blasphemy. The law enforcement agencies did nothing to save the young man. (D, Apr 26, May 11) In early May, Dr Robin, of Hafizabad, who had lived and served in that town for thirty years was booked under Section 295- C of the Pakistan Penal Code. The doctor was charged with blasphemy when he joked with a patient about the latter’s unruly beard. After incitement by a local Imam, hundreds of residents marched to Dr. Robin’s residence threatening to kill him and his family. While the mob encircled Dr. Robin’s house, law enforcers stood by and watched the whole episode silently. A Christian welfare organisation rescued the doctor and Jagdeesh Kumar: Done to death by his co-workers. State 7 8 ate of Human Rights in 2008 his family from likely death. Dr. Robin was put in jail and the uprooted Robin family had to go into hiding to escape the anger of religious extremists.
Demolition of places of worship
In Lahore, members of the Christian community protested against the demolition of a church in Garden Town, desecration of the holy Bible and illegally occupation of the land. The Church of Christ was constructed in 1963 and had been a place of worship since then. (DT, Jan 25). In protest, Sunday prayers were offered on the road in front of the demolished church. The participants said the police and d i s t r i c t administration had remained silent spectators despite the desecration. (D, Feb 15)
1. The blasphemy law was promulgated in 1985 and in 1990 the punishment under this law, which sought topenalise irreverence towards the Holy Quran and insulting the Holy Prophet (PBUH), was life imprisonment. In1992, the government introduced death penalty for a person guilty of blasphemy. Immediate abolition of ‘blasphemy’laws is needed as these provisions are often used against non-Muslims as well as Muslims to settle personal scores.
2. School curriculum has to be sensitised toward non-Muslim Pakistanis so that children feel safe, secure and equal.
3. The Ahmadis have been denied the benefit of the joint electorate system which was revived in 2002. The discrimination should be ended.
4. The Commission on Minorities should be made functional by reinforcing its independent status and providing it with the necessary resources, human as well as financial.Christians demand end to occupation of a church by the land mafia.