Minority rights are an issue of great concern both domestically and internationally. It is often believed that a nation should be judged by the protection it accords to the weak and vulnerable sections of its society rather than to its vast majorities. Regarding these rights, Pakistan has been subject to much criticism for lack of protection afforded to its religious and other minorities. The international community has been critical of the law aimed at minorities and the remedies provided by the state to improve their situation.
It is the need of the hour for Pakistan to enact legislation to protect minorities from persecution and discrimination, and to ensure enforcement of these measures at the governmental level.
Interfaith harmony is crucial amongst the masses living in Pakistan to eliminate violations of minority rights. It is important for both religious minorities and majorities to respect each other’s faith, ideology and practices. However, in Pakistan, there appears to be a lack of full protection afforded to minorities.
Pakistan has been subject to the criticism that the current law fails to properly protect marginalized communities within the country.
These shortcomings were reviewed by Pakistan when it accepted some of the recommendations after being reviewed by the Universal Human Rights (UPR) mechanism in 2008 and also ratified the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. However, little progress followed through with regards to these rights and the situation seems to have further deteriorated in the past years.
Over the years, issues such as forced conversions of Hindu girls to Islam, false accusations of blasphemy against non-Muslims, discrimination against dalits,13 and further prejudice against minorities has tainted the efforts to protect minority rights in Pakistan.
Blasphemy laws also stir up much criticism regarding the protection of human rights in Pakistan. It is argued that these laws aid in institutionalized religious discrimination and are used as a source of oppression and discrimination against religious minorities.
The Pakistan national report submitted for the 2012 Universal Periodic Review Second Cycle (UPR) has not discussed many of the critical minority rights issues, including discrimination against the Ahmedi Community.
It is suggested that separate legislation need to be enacted exclusively dedicated to protection of minority rights, specifically keeping in mind the concerns and recommendation made under the UPR.