The U.S. State Department reported in its annual report regarding the state of international religious freedom that Pakistan has failed to protect its religious minorities in 2014. The report looked back over the last year of reported acts of intolerance and violence that Pakistan’s religious minorities were exposed to. Despite this scathing report, recent court decisions and actions taken by the Pakistani government may indicate that in the next year the country intends to take religious freedom more seriously.
10/15/2015 Pakistan (Business Standard) – The US today lashed out at the Pakistan government for its failure to prosecute those responsible for religious freedom abuses, saying such environment encourages intolerance and acts of violence.
“In Pakistan, the government’s general failure to investigate, arrest or prosecute those responsible for religious freedom abuses promoted an environment of impunity. This environment fostered further intolerance and acts of violence,” the State Department said in its annual report on International Religious Freedom report for the year 2014.
“Government policies also failed to protect members of majority and minority religious groups,” said the report released by Secretary of State John Kerry.
“In addition, the persistent use of discriminatory legislation, such as blasphemy laws, including the government’s failure to address false accusations of blasphemy and laws designed to delegitimize the Ahmadiyya Muslim community, meant that minorities were often afraid to profess freely their religious beliefs,” the report said.
The Supreme Court announced a detailed judgment regarding minorities’ rights on June 20, in accordance with which the government created a National Commission for Minorities with representatives of various faith groups, it noted.
However, other recommendations from the judgment have yet to be implemented, such as establishment of a police task force to protect minorities, revision of school curricula to promote religious and social tolerance, and steps to discourage hate speech in social media, the report said.
It said discrimination against Christians, Hindus, Sikhs, and Ahmadis in admission to higher education institutions persisted. Minority leaders reported their communities faced restrictions in securing admissions into colleges and universities.