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ICC Note:

A new report has found that religious minorities in South Asia, including Christians, are among the poorest and most marginalized. Religious freedom in South Asia is often restricted with many nations, officially or unofficially, supporting a particular religion over others. In Pakistan, for example, Islam is the official religion of the state leaving religious minorities marginalized and often as second class citizens. With South Asia comprising a fifth of the world’s population, will the international community start putting pressure on these nations to promote religious freedom?

10/31/2016 South Asia (Asia News) – Despite many years of sustained growth and development interventions in South Asia, development indicators for the region remain dismal. The region, accounting for a fifth of the world’s population, is one of its poorest parts. It is also where civil and political rights are severely restricted, with frequent reports of human rights violations across the region.

Media reports, civil society program reports, research studies and the odd official report, however limited, point to South Asia’s minorities – religious, ethnic, linguistic and gender – being among the poorest and most vulnerable sections in the region; they are also victims of most conflicts and violence and atrocities by state and non-state actors. South Asia’s minorities thus suffer doubly.

South Asia is characterized by its large population, growing poverty, weak governance structures and feeble democratic institutions, increasing militarization and sectarianism. Governments in South Asia have pursued national security through destructive military apparatuses, rather than (seeking) security for citizens by actualizing their creative potential. Most important, the

Nations of South Asia are still in search of a social contract that can satisfy their people, regardless of gender, faith, ethnicity or religion.

These are the findings of South Asia State of Minorities’ Report 2016 compiled by NCJP (National Commission for Justice and Peace) and WISE (Women in Struggle for Empowerment), the report is supported by Minority Rights Group and Books for Change, the report recently launched in Pakistan at HRCP office, on 27th of October. At the event human rights defenders, media personage, minority members and intellectuals were present and gave their views about the report.

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