By UCA News
A recent study says Christians suffer the most persecution among Pakistan minorities.
The Asian Human Rights Commission on June 7 released the report “A Question of Faith“ which documents the deteriorating status of religious minorities in the context of rising religious extremism in the country. Jinnah Institute, a non-profit public policy organization complied the research between last December and March 2011.
The 70-page report is based on interviews with 125 people, including victims of violence and minority representatives as well as NGOs. In its introduction, the study gives a reference to Catholic Bishop’s National Commission for Justice and Peace.
“Can you be a Pakistani and not a Muslim … any meaningful dialogue between the majority and minority communities is limited; majority Muslims do not have first hand interaction with non Muslims”, it quotes Peter Jacob, executive secretary of the commission.
The report begins with highlighting difficulties of Christians. “They are on the frontline of persecution and violence against minority communities. Many feel they are treated as second class citizens and discriminated against in all aspects of life. Those who can migrate tend to leave the country”, it said, noting most of the serious cases of Christian persecution were registered in Punjab province.
The report also expresses concern about Hindu majority in the southern Sindh province. “Eighty percent are agricultural laborers and victims of caste and wider religious discrimination. The caste system translates into daily life like separate wells for lower caste Hindus in schools and their employment in lower status jobs. The higher castes face security issues”, it stated.
Similarly it highlights challenges of Ahmadi community, which was declared non Muslim in 1974. “2010 was the bloodiest year, in which 99 Ahmadis were murdered in religiously motivated attacks; this is a record figure”, Saleem ud Din, community’s spokesman said, adding 67 were charged with various offences last year.
Joseph Francis, the Catholic director of the Center for Legal Aid, Assistance and Settlement, said the latest report succeeds in voicing the concerns of minorities. “Still there are still many stories left untold; we plead for a peaceful co-existence”, said Francis as one of the panelists at the launch of the report in Islamabad.