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Shock and disbelief as Pakistan observes National Minorities Day

Shock and disbelief as Pakistan observes National Minorities Day

National Minorities Day was observed in Pakistan yesterday. At least once a year, the Pakistani authorities try their best to project to the world that they care for the religious minorities of the country. Functions are organized to, as Radio Pakistan said, "honor the services, the sacrifices and recognize the contribution of minorities in creation of Pakistan and nation-building."

Some like Minister for Information and Broadcasting Shibli Faraz tweet that "the dream of the state of Medina will not be realized without welfare of the minorities" and how the government under the leadership of Prime Minister Imran Khan has been endeavoring to materialize this dream.

Pakistan President Arif Alvi even cut a cake at the President House in Islamabad, reiterating Pakistan's commitment to refrain from discriminating against minorities and to maintain an atmosphere of tolerance and brotherhood within the country.

<img class="wp-image-9150 size-full" src="https://indianarrative.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/08/pakistan-minorities-day.jpg" alt="" width="1280" height="720" /> Pakistan President Arif Alvi during the cake-cutting ceremony organized on the National Minorities Day at the President House in Islamabad on Tuesday (Photo courtesy: Twitter/@luhanajai)

Even as Alvi was trying to paint a rosy picture of Pakistan, minorities continued to be swept away in a storm of vitriol and hatred outside. On Eid, a Christian man Sohail Masih was arrested and charged with blasphemy in Punjab's Nowshera Virkan town just because he had opposed eating sacrificial meat on Facebook. He has been in police custody since August 5.

Voice of Pakistan Minority, a non-profit organization committed to protect minority rights in Pakistan and highlight their plight, reported how a few days ago, the Kohli community was attacked in Umarkot, Sindh by Muslim neighborhood. Men and children were beaten; women were sexually assaulted but no action has been taken by the authorities against the culprits.

A video of another incident of a Hindu girl Kavita being abducted by an Islamist goon Muhammad Adil and other men from her home in Badin, Sindh on August 6 and then forcibly converted and married is also doing the rounds of social media.
<blockquote class="twitter-tweet">
<p dir="ltr" lang="en">"It’s national minority day today. Reports show 800-1000 underage minor Hindu, Christian and Sikh girls fall prey to forced conversions every year in Pakistan and consequences are the migration of 5000 people out of fear of forced conversions.. <a href="https://t.co/z2uafyju56">pic.twitter.com/z2uafyju56</a></p>
— Abdullah Sameer (@abdullahadam) <a href="https://twitter.com/abdullahadam/status/1293233026315542529?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">August 11, 2020</a></blockquote>
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In a detailed report titled, 'Pakistan: Religious freedom under attack', released last December, the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW), a commission of the United Nations Economic and Social Council, had expressed deep concern over the extremely volatile human rights situation in Pakistan.

"The situation for freedom of religion or belief (FoRB) in Pakistan continues to deteriorate. Multiple violations continue to take place under the leadership of Prime Minister Imran Khan," the report mentioned.

"Christian and Hindu communities remain particularly vulnerable, especially women and girls. Each year hundreds are abducted and forced to convert and marry Muslim men. Victims have little or no hope of being returned to their families due to the serious threats and intimidation from abductors against the girls and their families. This is compounded by the lack of police will to take action, weaknesses in the judicial process and discrimination from both police and judiciary towards religious minority victims," it added.

Minority Rights Group International (MRG), an international non-governmental organization (NGO), has also highlighted the crisis of religious discrimination in Pakistan which continues in, private and public sectors, and is even manifested in some areas of government, even during the Covid-19 pandemic.

"There have been reports of continuing acts of intolerance and violence based on religion or belief against individuals and whole communities, including against persons belonging to religious communities and religious minorities. MRG has solid evidence of continuing social discrimination on the basis of religion and belief, which impacts heavily on the day to day lives of those affected. The repeated issuing of job adverts limiting certain low paid and low skilled jobs to religious minorities is just one example of this daily reality. MRG is concerned about online and offline hate speech on the basis of religion or belief as well as ways in which discrimination prevents equality of opportunity in education, jobs, business and ultimately re-entrenches poverty for many," the organization said in a statement yesterday.
<blockquote class="twitter-tweet">
<p dir="ltr" lang="en">Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah August 11th 1947 promise: “you are free to go to your temples, you are free to go to your mosques or to any other place of worship in this State of Pakistan. You may belong to any religion … has nothing to do with the business of the State.” <a href="https://t.co/fk9udizOc2">https://t.co/fk9udizOc2</a></p>
— BilawalBhuttoZardari (@BBhuttoZardari) <a href="https://twitter.com/BBhuttoZardari/status/1293194562383556619?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">August 11, 2020</a></blockquote>
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"Pakistan's minorities often live under a cloud of fear and insecurity, particularly if they belong to disadvantaged classes or castes, or are continuously scapegoated and demonized by the powerful. Instead of receiving protection, vulnerable groups are ignored or thrown under the bus, over and over again, as they navigate layers of systemic discrimination and deeply rooted cultural biases, making some feel like lesser citizens in their country of birth," observed Pakistan's leading national daily Dawn in an editorial in May.

It was in 2014 that the Supreme Court of Pakistan had ordered a formation of a national commission for minorities' rights to oversee their concerns and protect their places of worship.

"A National Council for Minorities' Rights be constituted. The function of the said Council should inter alia be to monitor the practical realization of the rights and safeguards provided to the minorities under the Constitution and law. The Council should also be mandated to frame policy recommendations for safeguarding and protecting minorities' rights by the Provincial and Federal Governments," the court had ordered.

After successive governments in Pakistan ignored the court order for years, Pakistan’s cabinet established the National Commission for Minorities (NCM) on May 5, earlier this year.

However, the reconstitution of the commission hit a roadblock straightaway as the Ministry of Religious Affairs did not include Ahmadis among its members. Information Minister Shibli Faraz stated after the cabinet meeting that the four million Ahmadis living in Pakistan did not "fall in the definition of minorities."

"The Ahmadis are among the most persecuted communities in Pakistan and to exclude them from a minority rights commission is absurd. Keeping Ahmadis off the commission shows the extent to which the community faces discrimination every day," said Brad Adams, Asia director at Human Rights Watch.

Hindus, Christians, Sikhs, Balochs, Ahmadis, the Hazaras… The list is long and unending. Minorities in Imran Khan's '<a href="https://indianarrative.com/world/pakistanis-shower-petals-click-selfies-with-the-smiling-assassin-who-killed-a-us-citizen-8437.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><strong>Naya Pakistan</strong></a>' are being discriminated, targeted, attacked daily. Perhaps, that's the reason why the world media gives no coverage to Pakistan's National Minorities Day on August 11 any longer.

It's all a sham, after all..