Do minorities in Pakistan treated as Humans?

Demographic composition

Pakistan is the first country to be formed on the basis of religion not of common ethnicity or language. The demographic composition shows that 96.28 per cent of the population belongs to Islamic faith according to the census completed in 1998. A vast majority of muslim population consisit of Sunni Islam Shi’a muslim account for approximately 10-15 per cent. The term ‘minority’ is used on many occasions in the 1973 Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan but there is no definition of this term. No official data is available to categorise minorities but Pakistan’s minorities can broadly be categorized as “ethnic and linguistic” and “religious’’.

Religious minorities are of non-muslims nearly 3.72 per cent which include Christians (1.59 per cent, 1998 Census), Ahmadis (0.22 per cent, 1998 Census), Hindus (1.6 per cent, 1998 Census). In 2017 an updated census was recorded but full results are yet to be released. It is expected that the outcome will show a decline in the percentage of religious minorities, given the resulting emigration many communities have done in the last two decades.[1]

In ethical minorities most marginalized groups are the Hazaras, an ethic group who speak Persian language and belong to Mongolian-Turkic origin. Pakistan hosts nearly between 6,50,000- 90,00,000 of Hazaras and majority lives in Afghanistan. Sheedi is also one of the communities of Pakistan they are descendants of East Africa and were brought as slaves by Arab merchants between the eighth and nineteenth centuries.

Pakistani founding father does not believe that creating a homeland for South Asia’s Muslims entail creating an Islamic state. They dreamed of a secular state with numerous belief systems, which are to be respected. Mohammad Ali Jinnah, recognized as Pakistan’s Quaide-Azam (Great Leader), on the occasion of his first speech before the members of the Constituent Assembly of Pakistan in 1947, clearly declared that non-Muslims would be equal citizens in the new country and that every person living in the country was an equal citizen irrespective of his or her community, caste, color or faith.[2]

What constitution says

Constitution of Pakistan contradicts on many part, on one hand it states by many Articles that minorities rights would be saved and other hand makes Pakistan one religion Islamic state. It declares Islam as the religion of state by Article 2 and Article 31 directs governemt to foster the Islamic way of Life in state of Pakistan. Article 41(2) provides that for a person to be eligible for persident post he/she has to be muslim and Article 227(1) states ““all existing laws shall be brought in conformity with the Injunctions of Islam as laid down in the Holy Qur’an and Sunnah, in this Part referred to as the Injunctions of Islam, and no law shall be enacted which is repugnant to such Injunctions”.

Contrasting this idea Article 25(1) guarantees equal rights to all citizens and is entitled to equal protection of law. Article 5 states that “adequate provision shall be made for the minorities to freely profess and practice their religions and develop their cultures” and Article 33 makes states responsible to make provision to discourage parochial, racil, tribal,sectarian and provincial prejudices among citizens. Even Article 20 which gives citizen rights to practice, profess and propagate religion is subjected to law and public order.

Other than all this consitutiuon provision also many laws are been made which formalize the discrimination against religious minority groups. In 1979 the Hudood ordinance were adopted[3] which punishes for sexual intercourse without marriage and it’s clause 21 staes presiding officer shall be Muslim and can be non-muslim if accused is non-muslim. On the same line in 1980 religiously-mandated punishment were made which includes drinking alcoholic beverages, theft, prostitution, adultery, and bearing false witness. The punishment under this ranges from fines to hanging and amputations. The laws are made in the state only keeping in mind Quran no other religion holy books and culture are considered. If a ritual of another religion moves opposite the saying of Islamic religion then it cannot be permitted in Pakistan. Throughout Pakistan’s history, Islam has thus often been instrumentalised for narrow political purposes, and successive leaders contributed to the entrenchment of religion in state and government structures.[4]

Blasphemy Law

Of many laws made against minorities the most intriguing one is Blasphemy it consist of a group of laws, the foundation is section 295 of Pakistan Penal code.

295-A “deliberate and malicious intention of outraging the religious feelings of any class of the citizens of Pakistan,”

Section 295-B states that “whoever wilfully defiles, damages or desecrates a copy of the Holy Qur’an or of an extract therefrom or uses it in any derogatory manner or for any unlawful purpose shall be punishable with imprisonment for life”.

Section 295-C provides that “whoever by words, either spoken or written, or by visible representation, or by any imputation, innuendo, or insinuation, directly or indirectly, defiles the sacred name of the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him) shall be punished with death or imprisonment for life, and shall also be liable to fine”[5]

This Law only saves Islamic law from Blasphemy and other provisions of PPC specifyes that a Muslim and flowwer of Islam won’t be liable of offences. It limits only non-mslim to use freedom of speech and expression. 295-C consist vague terms which has unlimited scope, many time this is used against innocent minority groups. The punishment under this is death or life imprisonment.

Asia Bibi is a Pakistani Chirtan, was once involved argument with muslim women while harvesting berries other women got andried as she drank the same water. She was accused of insulting Islamic prophet Muhammad and on November 2010, a Sheikhupura judge sentenced her to death.[6] Moving with the same line in August 2012, Ramisha Mashi also an Christan girl, an illterate with mental disability was accused of buring pages of Quranic verses.[7] In March 2017 a Hindu man Prakash Kumar was arrested in Balochistan under the charges of Blasphemy.[8] These all instance shows that how the blasphemy law are being used against the minorities, this law on paper is made for protection of Islam but in related is made to tourture minorities.

Word at large is recommending and forcing Pakistan to abolish this law, which is working against the minorities. US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo had appealed to Pakistan to abolish the law as many as 40 people are serving life sentences or are being executed for blasphemy law.[9] UN Special Rapporteur made a research visit to Pakistan in relation to know the independence of lawyers and judges came to know that they are being coerced and pressurized in cases of blasphemy. Lawyers are reluctant to take the case of accused as they have constant free of their security and judges are coerced to take decisions against accused.[10]

Violence against minorities

Violent attacks have claimed many lives of religious minorities which include Ahmadis, Hindus, Shia, Sufi and Christians. By 1980s in the rule of General Zia ul Haq’s regime violent attacks became common especially targeting Shia and Ahmadi communities. These attacks got exacerbated by the pressure groups such as Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ), Al-Qaeda, and Tehrike-Taliban Pakistan which are anti-Shia. In a report it came out that between January 2001 and October 2011 at least 386 murders of Hazaras community were reported.[11] In January 2013 in a planned blast more than 100 Hazaras were killed and 121 were injured, the attack was committed by Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ).

Unrecognised muslim- The Ahmadis

Pakistan government in rule of Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto by an amendment in 1974 declared Ahmadis as non-muslim despit the fact that they are followers of Quran and keeps it above all holy books.[12] This anti-Ahmadis sentiment continued when in 1984 Zia Ul Haq declared practice of Ahmadi as criminal by adding two new articles in IPP. Ahmadis are most vulnerable minorities and witness a lot of viloence and murder. In May 2010 two mosques in Lahore of Ahmadiyya Community were attacked which witnessed 94 dead and more than 120 injured[13]. Another report had combined all the news articles and listed 3963 news items and 532 editorial pieces in the country can be said to spread “hate speech” against Ahmadis.[14] It is seen that attacks against Ahmadis have escalated since 2000 by witnessing an open fire at an Ahmadi workplace in Sialkot village. In September 2018, a strong opposition was made for selection of Atif Mian as a member of the Economic advisory committee as he belonged to the Ahmadi community. He was removed from the post within one week and after this Ahmadi community feared a renewed sense of religious intolerance in the state.[15]


This is not it religious minorities like Chirstan, Hindu, Shia, Sikh and Sufis also witness violence. In November 2017 an Open Doors claimed the highest number of Chirstians killed in the world during a year in 2015-16 is in Pakistan of nearly 76. Pakistan has also topped the list of church attacks nearly 600 of the total attacks 1329 worldwide during the same period of time.[16] Recently a Hindu temple was vandalised and set on fire by mob in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province of which the Pakistan Supreme Court has ordered for reconstruction.[17]

Action required

The UN on many instances has suggested Pakistan to amend laws and make them neutral for all the religious and ethnic minorities groups.Specially the laws discriminate on the basis of belief should be abolished instantly like Ahmadi-specific laws, constitutional provision which specify compliance of Islamic law, blasphemy laws, Hudood Ordinance etc. It should ensure that all the laws being previously made or are to be made in future adher the guidelines set up by International human rights law and other international conventions. An adoption of single voter list should be there no separate non-muslim list should be made. Ensure that minorities are represented in parliament and have power in policy making process special reservation of seats can be made.

Judicial reform should be looked upon in which no interference with the judiciary should be mandated and training for addressing equal rights for all citizens should be done. Independent inquiry committee should be set up to investigate the cases of violence against the minorities, justice to minorities be addressed in accordance with international conventions. In all the laws should be made according to the UN conventions and in policy to save the basic human rights of minorities.





[2] Mohammad Ali Jinnah’s first Presidential Address to the Constituent Assembly of Pakistan (11 August 1947); https://www.



[4] Minorities under attack: Faith-based discrimination and violence in Pakistan

[5] Pakistan Penal Code:

[6] “Fear for Pakistan’s death row Christian woman”. BBC News. 5 December 2010.

[7] “Pakistani activists alarmed by threats to minorities”. Deutsche Welle. 21 Aug 2012.

[8] “Balochistan violence: One dies after Hindu man arrested for ‘blasphemy”. Business Standard India. 2017-05-04.

[9]  “US Asks Pakistan to Step Up Efforts on Curbing Misuse of Blasphemy Laws, Has Tough Words for China Too”. News18.

[10] UN Human Rights Council, Report of the Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers, Addendum : Mission to Pakistan, 4 April 2013, A/HRC/23/43/Add.2, paras 56-61:

[11] State of Human Rights in 2011, report of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, 2012,


[13] Perlez, Jane (May 28, 2010). “Attackers Hit Mosques of Islamic Sect in Pakistan”. The New York Times.

[14] Pakistan’s Ahmadi community releases damning persecution report”. 28 April 2018.

[15] “Pakistan’s Ahmadi Muslims Fear Renewed Discrimination”. Retrieved 9 April 2019.

[16]Tanner, Georeen (13 April 2017). “Christian persecution: How many are being killed, where they are being killed”. Fox News.