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Rising Concerns of Religious Discrimination in Pakistan

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By Moeez Saleem

In recent years, Pakistan has witnessed a concerning surge in incidents of religious discrimination, raising alarm among human rights advocates and international observers. This growing issue threatens the country’s social fabric and the principles of tolerance and inclusivity on which the nation was founded.

Religious minorities, including Christians, Hindus, Sikhs, and Ahmadis, have faced increasing marginalization and persecution. Discriminatory laws, such as the notorious blasphemy laws, have been weaponized to target individuals from religious minority communities, often resulting in arrests and mob violence. These laws have been criticized for enabling religious intolerance and stifling freedom of expression.

One of the most tragic examples of this discrimination occurred in 2022 when a Christian couple was beaten to death and their bodies burned in Punjab province after being falsely accused of blasphemy. Such incidents not only highlight the vulnerability of religious minorities but also the impunity with which the perpetrators act.

Moreover, religious schools, known as madrassas, have been criticized for promoting extremist ideologies and contributing to religious divisions. Many fear that these institutions are nurturing a new generation of religiously motivated extremists.

International organizations, including the United Nations and Human Rights Watch, have repeatedly expressed concerns about the deteriorating situation of religious minorities in Pakistan. They have called on the government to take immediate steps to protect religious freedom, repeal discriminatory laws, and promote interfaith dialogue.

Pakistan’s government has taken some measures to address these issues, but significant challenges remain. Critics argue that more needs to be done to dismantle the infrastructure of discrimination and promote religious tolerance.

As the international community continues to monitor the situation closely, the plight of religious minorities in Pakistan remains a pressing concern, requiring concerted efforts from both the government and civil society to ensure a more inclusive and tolerant society.

 

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