Human rights watchdog urges P.M. Khan to satisfy his commitments of ensuring protection of country’s minorities
Pakistan must protect the proper to freedom of faith and belief for it’s Hindu minority, including the development of temples to exercise that right, Amnesty International said on Tuesday.
“The respect for the proper to freedom of faith was promised to Pakistan’s Hindus by the country’s founder, Muhammad Ali Jinnah,” said Omar Waraich, South Asia head at Amnesty, during a handout . “Those who deny a long-marginalized community the proper to practice their faith freely not only betray his legacy, but also violate the human rights of spiritual minorities protected under Pakistan’s Constitution and its international human rights obligations,” he added.
In a landmark speech on religious freedom, Jinnah had in August 1947 said: “You are free; you’re liberal to attend your temples, you’re liberal to attend your mosques or the other place of worship within the state of Pakistan. you’ll belong to any religion or caste or creed—that has nothing to try to to with the business of the state.”
The call to guard the rights of Hindus in Pakistan came a couple of days after authorities in Islamabad capitulated to pressure from a discriminatory campaign mounted by politicians, media outlets and clerics to halt the development of a temple within the federal capital. A mob, incorrectly claiming the development of a temple went against Islam, also tore down a boundary wall constructed at the location where the temple is meant to be constructed.
“Pakistan claimed positive global attention last year when it opened the Sikh temple at Kartarpur to pilgrims from India. By caving into hateful pressure, it now threatens to reverse that achievement and deepen the discrimination that Pakistan’s Hindu community faces,” warned Waraich.
According to the press statement, the destruction of the temple also feeds into the persistent discrimination faced by Pakistan’s Hindu community on a daily basis. It said that Hindus were increasingly marginalized publicly life; individuals often accused of blasphemy; their temples and shops attacked; and many young Hindu women were abducted and forcibly converted to Muslim and married off.
“The Pakistani authorities must clearly and publicly condemn such acts rather than giving into them. Every reported act of violence against minorities must be promptly investigated and people responsible must be delivered to justice. A recurrence can only be prevented if adequate measures are taken,” said Waraich.
The handout noted that Prime Minister Imran Khan had repeatedly claimed he would protect Pakistan’s religious minorities, posting on Twitter in February: “I want to warn our folks that anyone in Pakistan targeting our non-Muslim citizens or their places of worship are going to be addressed strictly. Our minorities are equal citizens of the country.”
Waraich urged the prime minister to act on his commitments and make sure that Pakistan’s religious minorities were allowed to practice their faith freely and without worrying .
Hindus constitute around two to four percent of Pakistan’s population, with the community boasting members of parliament and therefore the country’s judiciary.