The year 2019 proved to be another challenging year for all religious communities in Pakistan, Although faith based militancy, terrorism and deadly attacks against Shia Muslims, Sufi Sunni Muslims, Ahmadiyya Community, Christians, Hindus have been controlled by Pakistan successfully through big and small military operations and Intelligence based operations and save heaven of terrorists like of Lashkar-i-Jhangvi, Jaish-i-Muhammad-JeM and of groups of Tehreek Taliban Pakistan-TTP.
Religious based discrimination, intolerance and instances of near to absolute maltreatment with many religious groups including religious minorities are still big challenges for the state and the government.
Recently when country is facing coronavirus pandemic, Anti-Shia Muslim and Anti-Sufi Sunni Muslim sectarian fascists tried to frame both communities while declaring Coronavirus as ‘Shia-Corona Virus’ and many sectarian fascist declared that Tombs and Sufi shrines are hub of coronavirus.
Pro-American establishment elements and groups consist of commercial liberal mafia active in Pakistan under the banner of so called enlightenment and liberalism joined their hands with such Takfiri Fascists to defame Shia-Muslims and Sufi-Muslims and called them responsible for coronavirus in Pakistan. Even many atheists inclined to religious phobia propagated that believers of all religions are responsible for coronavirus pandemic all over the world.
It is historic fact that in whole colonial period religious minorities even minority sects in Muslims like Shia Muslims face marginalization, persecution, intolerance, discriminations from religious fundamentalist groups.
After Pakistan’s formation all religious minorities continued to suffer and they have been treated like second citizens. Pakistan’s constituent assembly passed ‘Objective Resolution’ despite opposition members from Hindu, Dalit, Christian communities and even some Muslim enlightened member assembly like Mian Iftikhar also opposed it but all opposition went in vain.
1973 Constitution legally barred Non-Muslim persons from high government offices and in 1974 it declared Ahmadiyya as Non-Muslim community and further during Zia Martial Ahmadiyya community were deprived from basic human rights through ordinances and all such ordinances were protected by 8th amendment in the 1973 constitution.
In Zia era many anti-religious minorities laws were introduced, which were made part of the constitution through 8th amendment in 1985 by non-parties Parliament came into being through bogus general elections by dictator Ziaulhaq.
It was era of Zia dictatorship, when we saw first time very organized persecution campaign not only Christians, Hindus but against Shia Muslims and worst marginalization of Sufi-culture and practices through Wahhabization of the state and society.
Recently International Christian Concern – ICC, an American based non-government agency published its annual report about ‘Persecution of Christians in Pakistan’. (Report is available is on official website of ICC).
“Throughout 2019, International Christian Concern (ICC) documented at least 92 incidents of persecution against Pakistan’s Christian community. These incidents included instances of discrimination, sexual assault, abduction, forced conversion, forced marriage, beatings, torture, false blasphemy accusations, and even murder.”
False blasphemy Accusation against Religious Minorities in Pakistan:
Takfiri tendencies in every sect of Muslim Community are on rise. But in Deobandi Sunni Hanafi sect Takfiri tendency has very organized, militant and violent network all over the country. Sipah Sahabah Pakistan- SSP/ Ahle Sunnat Wal Jamat- ASWJ( Both names are banned by the state but they are still fully functional) started an organized campaign of Takfir against Shia Muslims and to prove them apostates and blasphemers from 1984.
That campaign transformed into violent and militant campaign and it became slow Shia-genocide campaign. Acoording to data provided chronically published in the book titled with ‘Shia Genocide in Pakistan: Myth or Reality’ compiled by Aamir Hussaini, 22000 Shia Muslim including 800 Shia Muslim doctors were gunned downed or killed in suicide or remote control bombing by Deobandi terrorist militant groups under influence of deadly anti-Shia campaign run by SSP/ASWJ from 1984 to 2015.
Hundreds of Shia-Muslims from all over the country were booked and trialed under blasphemy laws and they were smeared by members of SSP/ ASWJ while hundreds of Shia-Muslims including women face false blasphemy charges. When Nawaz government introduced ‘Anti-Cyber Crimes Act’, we saw rising in the the trend of registration of FIRs against persons from Shia-Muslims under the said law, while accusing them falsely of committing the blasphemy.
It is undeniable fact that Pakistan’s elite liberals in majority never took serious notice of false blasphemy accusations and of registration of cases against Shia-Muslims in Pakistan. Even not a single big Human Rights Organization published a report having data of cases registered under false blasphemy charges against Shia-Muslims, as they showed serious concerns over such cases registered against Christians, Ahmadiyyas, Hindus and against some secular-liberal persons.
But we cannot deny that false blasphemy accusations continue negatively affect Pakistan’s Shia-Muslim community like such allegations are affecting negatively Pakistan’s Christian and Hindu communities.
False blasphemy accusations continued to negatively affect Pakistan’s Christian community.
ICC’s report reveals:
“ICC documented at least 10 Christians accused of blasphemy in 2019. This included Sunaina Amjad, Sophia Amjad, Soneha Amjad, and Sophia Qamar, who were falsely accused of desecrating a Quran by a Muslim neighbor in Karachi in February 2019. The four Christians and their families remain displaced from their homes despite being exonerated by police.
In March 2019, Stephen Masih in Sialkot was accused of blasphemy. In June 2019, Sunny and Noman Masih were accused of blasphemy in Bahawalnagar, as was Saleem Masih in Khanewal. In December 2019, Shehzad Masih was also accused of blasphemy in Faisalabad. Amir Masih was accused of blasphemy in 2019, but police proved him to be innocent at a very early stage in the investigation.
In May 2019, Asia Bibi, a Christian woman that had been on death row for nearly a decade, was finally allowed to leave Pakistan after being found innocent of committing blasphemy in 2009. Bibi and her family were allowed to flee to Canada, where they received asylum.
In July 2019, Jadoon Masih, a Pentecostal pastor, was acquitted of the blasphemy charges he was accused of in February 2017. This was done by the Lahore High Court after they found that there was not sufficient evidence to prove Masih had desecrated pages of the Quran found near his church.”
“At least 37 Christian women and girls who were affected by this issue in 2019”, says ICC’s report.
“ICC documented This included the case of 14-year-old Huma Younas from Karachi. According to local reports, Huma was abducted at gunpoint by Abdul Jabbar from her family’s home on October 10, 2019.
Following the abduction, Huma’s parents were informed via text message that their daughter had “converted” to Islam and had “married” Jabbar. Huma’s parents have also received a cascade of threats from supporters of Jabbar and other extremists.”
“To rescue their daughter, the family argued that Huma’s marriage to Jabbar was invalid under the Sindh Child Marriage Restraint Act. The Christian couple supplied the court with baptismal and school documents proving Huma is 14.”
“On February 2, 2020, the Sindh High Court found that the marriage was valid, despite its violation of the Sindh Child Marriage Restraint Act, because Huma had had her first period. The court’s ruling was based solely upon the judges’ interpretation of Sharia law.”
Pakistan is a country where Christians, Hindus, Shia-Muslims, Ahmadiyyas, and Sufi Practitioners are being persecuted by Takfiri-tendencies having vast network all over the country.
ICC’s report says:
“In 2020, Pakistan ranked fifth on the Open Doors USA World Watch List of the top 50 countries where Christians are persecuted for their faith. As can be seen, by the evidence above, it is easy to understand this high ranking.”
Unfortunately, the intolerance, discrimination, and persecution faced by Pakistani minorities are unlikely to change in the year to come.