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02/25/2021 Pakistan (International Christian Concern) – Pakistan’s Anti-Narcotics minister, Ijaz Shah, came under fire over the weekend over outlandish comments he made during a speech delivered at the centennial of the Nankana massacre in which 260 Sikhs were murdered. The minister claimed that all religious minorities in Pakistan are respected and protected.

Shah’s claim was met with fierce resistance from leaders of various religious minority communities who cited examples of how Pakistan’s majority Muslim community abuses religious minorities through violence, mob attacks, false accusations of blasphemy, forced conversions, kidnapping, and forced marriages.

Christian leaders cited disparities in access to education and the lack of opportunity for Christian youth to gain the education and training necessary to prosper economically.

Christians are continually harassed and discriminated against on the basis of their faith and religious identity. Pakistan’s blasphemy laws continue to facilitate ongoing persecution and serve to create an atmosphere of fear for Pakistani Christians. Christians are afraid to discuss faith and religion with their Muslim counterparts for fear of being accused of blasphemy.

The blasphemy laws are often used for score-settling purposes and to intimidate Christians and other religious minorities, such as Sikhs, Hindus, and Ahmadis, none of whom are afforded the freedom to practice their religion freely.

Matias Perttula, ICC’s Advocacy Director said, “Pakistani political leadership will always point to constitutional provisions and other statutes that ‘guarantee’ religious freedom for all. But, in reality, these guarantees of freedom are a farce and an insult to religious minority communities throughout Pakistan.”

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