Global News - Redeem the Oppressed

Religious Freedom Under Threat in Pakistan

Pakistan’s track record of defending minority rights has consistently come under scrutiny, and recent developments only heighten these concerns. The Islamabad High Court has initiated what many view as a discriminatory policy against religious minorities, specifically targeting individuals who have converted from Islam to Ahmadiyya.

Concerning Directives from Islamabad High Court

Located in Pakistan’s federal capital, the Islamabad High Court has issued a directive to the National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA) demanding detailed records of 10,000 citizens who changed their religion from Islam to Ahmadiyya. This directive, issued on February 26, 2018, by Justice Shoukat Aziz Siddiqui, requires NADRA to provide comprehensive details including the ages, parental names, and international travel history of these individuals.

This move came in the wake of a petition by Tehreek-i-Khatm-i-Nabuwwat’s follower, Allah Wasaya, challenging a supposed clerical error in the Khatm-i-Nabuwwat oath within the constitution, which was later corrected. Previously, NADRA had reported on 10,205 individuals who switched their religious beliefs, and on this occasion, the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) sought additional time to gather more detailed information, with the next hearing scheduled for March 5, 2018.

A Disturbing Assertion in the Court

The court’s actions were further compounded by statements made during the hearings. Hafiz Hassan Madni, a professor from Punjab University, voiced his opinion openly, stating that those who leave Islam for another religion are apostates and deserve punishment. He controversially labeled Ahmadiyya followers as more dangerous than infidels (Christians), claiming they neither belong to Islam nor Christianity and disguise themselves under the shelter of Islam.

Historical Context and Constitutional Issues

The discrimination against religious minorities is not new in Pakistan. It has deep roots tracing back to the 1973 constitution, drafted under Zulifqar Ali Bhutto’s government and passed on April 10, 1973. This constitution has barred religious minorities from holding higher governmental positions and was further exacerbated by the 8th amendment introduced by General Muhammad Zia-ul Haq and later empowered by Nawaz Sharif’s government in May 1991.

The subsequent introduction of Blasphemy Laws has led to increased religious persecution, a situation that continues to escalate as we face ongoing challenges like those against the Ahmadiyya community.

Call to Action

It is crucial for the international community to closely monitor these developments and respond accordingly. Pakistan, a signatory to various international resolutions on freedom of expression, has failed notably in protecting its own citizens. We advocate for proactive measures from global entities to ensure the safety and rights of all minorities in Pakistan.

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We urge readers and the international community to stand against these injustices and advocate for the protection of minority rights in Pakistan. Express your concern, reach out to human rights organizations, and lend your voice to those who are silenced. Every action counts towards building a more equitable world.