Mon, 20 May 2019

Brussels [Belgium], May 14 (ANI): The European Parliament here has released a report, highlighting the worsening situation of religious minorities in Pakistan, an Asian nation where Muslims are in dominance.

The report titled "Religious Minorities in Pakistan" was compiled by the European Parliamentarians including Alberto Cirio, Fulvio Martusciello, Ryszard Czarnecki, Indrek Tarand and Heinz K Becker.

The report aims at drawing the attention to the plight of religious minorities in Pakistan and the institutionalised discrimination against these groups.

The report examined the nature of persecution faced by various religious minority groups apart from presenting some brief case studies on the oppression faced by women from these communities.

The report said that the religious minority groups included Christians, Hindus, Sikhs and the Ahmadiyyas, and further cited real-life examples from these communities.

It added that the Constitution of Pakistan only recognised Islam as the religion of the state. "The Constitution of Pakistan officially espouses Islam as the religion of the state. Article 2 in the Pakistani constitution states: Islam shall be the State Religion of Pakistan," the report said.

It said, "The annex adopted in relation to this provision states: 'the State shall exercise its powers and authority [...] wherein the principles of democracy, freedom, equality, tolerance and social justice as enunciated by Islam shall be fully observed.""Even though the clause goes on to provide that adequate provisions will be made for minorities to practice their religion, it still continues to subject the minorities to the principles of 'of democracy, freedom, equality, tolerance and social justice as enunciated by Islam.' This has the effect of alienating members of minority communities."The report also specifically focusses on Pakistan's discriminatory blasphemy laws and how the legislation is used to target the minority communities. In this connection, a reference was made to the case of Asia Bibi, the Christian woman who was targeted by Islamic radical groups after being acquitted in a blasphemy case.

"Christians are also among the country's most marginalised communities, with limited economic opportunities. Christians also face discrimination in areas such as employment, they are forced to perform menial tasks such as cleaning and garbage collection," says the report.

"For example, members from the Christian community in Lahore account most of the city's sanitation workers. Moreover, their supervisors often tend to be from the majority community, which reinforces stereotypes and discrimination," the report adds.

In addition, the report has stated that the religious minorities witness various forms of targeted violence, mass murders, extrajudicial killings, abduction, rapes, forced conversion to Islam, etc., making them one of the most prosecuted communities in the region.

The report urges the Pakistani government to take urgent measures to improve the conditions of the religious minority communities. Otherwise, the European Union will re-evaluate the financial assistance from its budget to Pakistan. (ANI)

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