The persecution of religious minorities in Pakistan has reached “critical levels” after intensifying in recent years, according to a new report which says government efforts to address the problem often “lack effective organization, funding or implementation.”
The assessment by Minority Rights Group International (MRG), a London-based NGO, notes how, in a country dominated by Sunni Muslims, discrimination against non-Sunnis has “emboldened extremist groups,” fanning the spread of hate speech. The country’s minorities have also faced regular violence: MRG cites, for example, the attack on the All Saints Church in Peshawar in Sept., 2013, when suicide bombers killed at least 85 people. More recently, the report points to the mob attack over the summer on a settlement of the minority Ahmadi Muslim sect that led to the death of a woman and her two grandchildren.
“The Pakistani government has systematically failed to protect the rights of religious minorities, who face discrimination in almost every aspect of their lives,” said Shobha Das, MRG’s director of programs. “The government’s unwillingness to protect all citizens not only violates Pakistan’s international legal commitments, but also helps foster a climate of impunity for the perpetrators of abuse, while minorities suffer in silence.”