Pak rights panel highlights challenges faced by minorities

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The report highlighted the state of religious freedoms in the country, focusing on incidents from June 2022 to July 2023….reports Asian Lite News

The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) released its annual report detailing the significant challenges faced by religious minorities in Pakistan.

The report highlighted the state of religious freedoms in the country, focusing on incidents from June 2022 to July 2023.

Authored by Rabia Mahmood and titled “Culture of Hatred,” the 43-page report sheds light on significant challenges faced by religious minorities and sections in the country.

A key incident highlighted in the report occurred on August 16, 2023, in Jaranwala, Punjab, where hundreds protested alleged blasphemy by a Christian individual.

The protest escalated into the ransacking and burning of 24 homes, marking a troubling escalation in religiously motivated violence.

The report further identified various factors contributing to such incidents, including the exploitation of religious sentiments by major political factions.

It noted the rise of the Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) as a formal political entity, supported by segments of the legal community promoting divisive rhetoric.

State policies ostensibly aimed at maintaining peace and security have also come under scrutiny, particularly concerning arrests made under charges of religiously motivated crimes.

Additionally, the report documented cases of forced conversions of young Hindu and Christian girls, attacks on Ahmadiyya mosques, and increased arrests related to allegations of online blasphemy.

Tragically, the report also documented the deaths of at least seven individuals from Ahmadiyya, Christian, Sikh, and Muslim communities due to religious intolerance during the reporting period.

Despite these challenges, the HRCP report called on Pakistan to urgently fulfil its international obligations under the Freedom of Religion or Belief (FoRB), and emphasised the importance of upholding the Supreme Court’s 2014 verdict on the rights of religious minorities.

The report underscored the critical need for immediate action to address religious intolerance and uphold human rights in Pakistan, urging adherence to international human rights frameworks amidst growing concerns. (ANI)

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