The United States Commission on Religious Freedom released their analysis of heavily persecuted countries around the world on May 17, 2017. The report articulates that Christian women continue to be forced to convert to Islam and married to Muslim men, often through the use of bondage and labor. Christians are also systemically denied education and religious bias in textbooks is rampant in public schools. Pakistan remains a country “of particular concern.”
07/05/2017 Pakistan (UNPO) – On 17 May 2017, the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) presented their 2017 annual report. The 243-page document assesses violations of religious freedom in more than 35 countries throughout 2016 and up to including February 2017. The document serves as a set of policy recommendations to the US State Department. The overall conclusion is that the status of religious freedom is worsening in many parts of the world.
Pakistan is the geographic home to a total of three UNPO Members, all of whom remain heavily oppressed by the Pakistani state and affected by discriminatory laws such as the anti-blasphemy law. While the Pakistani government has recently taken steps to improve the situation of minorities, including the adoption of the Sindh Criminal Law Bill and the Hindu Marriage Bill, “forced conversions of Hindu and Christian girls and young women into Islam and marriage, often through bonded labor, remains a systemic problem”.
As rightfully noted by the Commission, education with “discriminatory content against minorities” remains a key concern. In a 2016 follow-up to a 2011 study on education and religious bias in public textbooks in Pakistan, the Commission found that “while 16 problematic passages outlined in the 2011 report were removed from textbooks, 70 new intolerant or biased passages were added”, fifty-eight of which “came from textbooks used in the Balochistan and Sindh provinces”. While the report sheds some light on the situation of Sindhs and Balochs in Pakistan, there is no mention of Gilgit Baltistan, an illegally occupied region suffering tremendously from Pakistani rule