The most debatable topic of recent years is human rights. People living around the world claim their freedom as human beings, i.e., the rights or services for which a fair and peaceful life will not be enjoyed by humans. In contemporary days, nearly all democratic states’ constitutions grant civil rights but unfortunately minority rights have not been explicitly stated.

Pakistan’s Constitution guarantees its citizens’ basic rights, including equality of status, opportunity and before the law, civil, economic and political justice, and freedom of thinking, speech, opinion, religion, worship and participation, subject to the law and public morality.’ In terms of religion, with a 95 percent Muslim community, Pakistan is very homogenous. However, the remaining 5% of Pakistanis, as mentioned earlier, compose of Hindus, Ahmadis, Sikhs, Buddhists, Christians, Parsis, Shias, Bahais, etc. Since Pakistan was founded on the basis that Muslims wanted a land of their own where, without judgment and oppression, they could practice their religion, every citizen of Pakistan had to be guaranteed the right to practice his or her own faith. Ironically, this fundamental privilege is not afforded to even the Shias, a Muslim minority group in Pakistan. [1] On paper, under both national and international law, religious minorities in Pakistan receive certain rights. Such values are enshrined in the Constitution and other laws, ranging from freedom of religion to the right to citizenship and non-discrimination, yet these groups continue to be deprived in law. In addition, minorities and their rights have been negatively affected by such laws in Pakistan, such as the blasphemy statute and the ‘anti-Ahmadi’ changes to the Constitution in 1974. This segment gives an analysis of the legal framework in Pakistan and the relevant issues facing religious minorities in the region. [2]

Despite establishing the dignity and equality of all Pakistani people, the human rights of religious minorities in Pakistan are currently facing a major challenge. Not only are they vulnerable to discrimination, they are often vulnerable to abuse and defamation laws being misused. Numerous instances of demolition of churches and mosques have taken place. Muslim majority regions were cut out of India to form Pakistan, where religious minorities make up about 23 percent of the population. Jinnah desired a Muslim nation that would be democratic and respectful of all religions of all faiths. His popular words that “may belong to any religion, caste or creed” to people of this nation and that it “has nothing to do with the business of the state” are generally understood as his true conviction in the concept of the world he dreamed. [3]



According to Shi’a and Sunni political figures, as well as government officials, violence toward religious minorities is not the product of social intolerance within religious sects, but is orchestrated and carried out by religious militant groups. Pakistan has a large number of religious Islamic schools which play a significant role in the educational system of the country. A relatively small number of these schools have been identified as offering weapons and other instruction and thereby leading to religious abuse due to which the government has been blamed for not taking action to disarm these schools and to discourage their participation in acts of violence. [4] The Ahmadis are a group of around 3-4 million religious’ people. While they believe themselves to be Muslim, because of the Ahmadis’ argument that their creator was a receiver of divine revelation and a prophet of God, some Muslims in Pakistan hold the opposite view. Some Muslims believe that this assertion contradicts a fundamental Islamic tenet concerning the intent of the prophet Muhammad. Certain Pakistani regimes have used this religious distinction in the past to justify a variety of legal limitations on the exercise of their religion by the Ahmadis. In 1974, for the reasons of the Constitution and legislation, a constitutional amendment was passed stating that Ahmadis were non-Muslims. Since the religious practices of the Ahmadis are basically the same as those of other Sunni Muslims, these legal bans have the effect of a far-reaching restriction on the public exercise of their religion. As these rules have been perceived and enforced, it is unlawful for Ahmadis to name their places of worship “mosques,” to worship in non-Ahmadi mosques or public prayer rooms, to conduct the Muslim call to prayer, to openly quote from the Holy Quran, to wear on their person the medallion bearing the Kalima, which specifies the central endorsement of the Muslim faith, to pursue converts, to make public use of traditional Islamic greetings and to produce, publish, and disseminate religious materials. It is reported that the Ahmadis were arrested for all these acts. Many Ahmadis claim that criminal law enforcement and other punitive measures against them are not solely the result of a direct campaign by the government of Pakistan or general social enmity, but are the result of pressure on local government authorities by small groups of religious extremists to launch and pursue cases against Ahmadis. [5]


The act of insulting God is defined as blasphemy. In ancient times particularly in Greece and Rome, blasphemy was often related to treason. The religion-related offences were first codified by the British rulers of India in 1860, and were widened in 1927. When it came into existence after the partition of India in 1947, Pakistan inherited these laws. The law enacted by the British made it a crime to disrupt a religious assembly, infringe on burial grounds, insult religious convictions or deliberately destroy or defile a place or object of worship. The maximum punishment ranges from one year to 10 years in prison, with or without a fine, under these laws. [6]

As it stands in Pakistan today, the blasphemy legislation is a deficient and ambiguous law. On the accusation of blasphemy, it throws the net wide open to tie in everyone. Several innocent citizens have been accused of settling personal scores, professional competition, property stealing and, of course, racial discrimination under false charges. It is reported that only seven cases of blasphemy had been reported until 1953, but soon the law was amended and a spate of cases were reported. In fact, this shows the influence of the religious bogey that has emerged in Pakistan as a force in the political arena of national politics. The law of blasphemy and its punishments are based on the Shariah of Islam. The Shariah belongs to Muslims and, therefore, those who do not adhere to it must not be enforced. This blasphemy law invades the fundamental right of non-Muslim citizens of Pakistan to profess and practice religion. From this angle, therefore, it needs to be seriously examined. This law on blasphemy has, instead of delivering justice, promoted injustice. Therefore, the very rationale needs to be challenged. In a State that declares Islam as State religion and 95% of its population is Muslim with hundreds of religious outfits having their own militias, none would dare to commit blasphemy against the Quran or Prophet. [7] Mostly, cases of blasphemy are either brought about by those who want to undermine minority groups or by those who want to eliminate people against whom they have a feud or grudge. The mere charge of blasphemy against someone can lead to the life of the accused being endangered. Blasphemy laws are also commonly used against the Ahmadi minority community. Penal Code 298 of Pakistan includes anti-Ahmadiyya blasphemy legislation. Although Ahmadis have the Quran as their holy scripture, they can be punished by only referring to their religion as Islam with up to three years in jail. [8]


The blasphemy laws of Pakistan are incompatible with universal principles of human rights, not just because they place unreasonable limits on freedom of speech, freedom of worship and other human rights, but also because their consequences are oppressive. In comparison, the required protections against violence are absent, including no specific description of what constitutes blasphemy, inadequate evidentiary requirements for lower court prosecutions, and no requirement of criminal purpose. This makes it possible in personal disputes for the rules to be used to persecute minorities or exact vengeance. The laws of blasphemy have often been invoked to instigate and excuse sectarian or group strife, with accusations of blasphemy frequently acting as the source of gang activity that police and government authorities have indirectly, if not specifically, condoned in certain instances. The blasphemy laws offer no specific guidelines about what constitutes a breach, considering their harsh punishments. This decision is mostly based on their own religious convictions and conceptions of Islam, is left to police and judiciary authorities to make. The blasphemy laws of Pakistan are regularly used to exact revenge, exert pressure in business or land disputes, and are entirely unrelated to blasphemy in other matters. Critics spanning from scholars to human society advocates and writers also suggested that blasphemy allegations are imposed with ulterior purposes in certain cases. [9]


There had been too much deception from its rivals about the future of non-Muslims living in Pakistan before Pakistan came into being. But the Muslims had bitter memories of the past in their hearts, when the Hindu majority had mistreated them on the subcontinent. Now they did not want to treat non-Muslims in the manner in which Muslims were viewed before separation in the united India. That was why all their constitutional rights were granted in the constitution to the minorities in Pakistan.

As has already been pointed out, the ‘internal’ Muslim minorities such as the Ahmadiyya and the Shi’is especially threaten the ideational limits that the state is attempting to guard and reactivate the debates that were already prominent in the colonial era about the relationship between Islam and modernity. Pakistan is certainly an outlier and anomaly that needs to be taken seriously, as the state has been founded on a religion-political idea. Around the same time, the emphasis on the extraordinary has blinded us to comparable methods, as all the contributors to this special segment highlight. There is the need to normalize the problematic exoticization of Pakistan in the recovery of policies by minorities to inhabit this Muslim homeland on the subcontinent.




  1. Neha M. Zaigham, “Report on issues faced by minorities in Pakistan” (2009).
  2. Minority Rights Group International, “Freedom of religion or belief in Pakistan” (2007).
  3. Benazir Jatoi, “Rights of Pakistan’s Religious Minorities”. Arab News, July 20, 2020. Available at https://www.arabnews.pk/node/1707296 (last visited on 09.01.2021)
  4. Richard D. Land, “Pakistan: A Human Rights Update” (2004)
  5. Ibid
  6. What are Pakistan’s Blasphemy laws? BBC News, May 8, 2019 Available at https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-48204815 (last visited on 10.01.2021)
  7. Naeem Shakir, “Misuse of Blasphemy law in Pakistan,” June 5, 2013.
  8. END BLASPHEMY LAWS, “Pakistan” June 18, 2020 Available at https://end-blasphemy-laws.org/countries/asia-central-southern-and-south-eastern/pakistan/
  9. Amnesty International, “Pakistan: Accusations of blasphemy continue to endanger lives” August 25, 2020.