The population of Pakistan is approximately 96% Sunni and Shia Muslim; the remaining 4% is made up of Christians, Ahmadi Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists and others.1https://www.state.gov/reports/2021-report-on-international-religious-freedom/pakistan/; https://www.cia.gov/the-world-factbook/countries/pakistan/#people-and-society The country has suffered chronic sectarian violence against religious and non-religious minorities, with Shia Muslims subjected to the majority of the violence,2https://www.state.gov/reports/2021-report-on-international-religious-freedom/pakistan/ and many extremely serious incidents against Christian and Ahmadi minorities. For individual non-religious persons to speak out is uncommon, but those revealed or alleged to be non-religious tend to provoke swift condemnation, threats of violence, or criminal blasphemy charges.
The legal environment in Pakistan is notably repressive; it has oppressive blasphemy laws, permits systemic and legislative religious discrimination and often allows vigilante violence on religious grounds to occur with impunity.
|Constitution and government||Education and children’s rights||Family, community, society, religious courts and tribunals||Freedom of expression advocacy of humanist values|
Expression of non-religious views is severely persecuted, or is rendered almost impossible by severe social stigma, or is highly likely to be met with hatred or violence
There is a pattern of impunity or collusion in violence by non-state actors against the nonreligious
Government authorities push a socially conservative, religiously or ideologically inspired agenda, without regard to the rights of those with progressive views
There is a religious tax or tithing which is compulsory, or which is state-administered and discriminates by precluding non-religious groups
Countries: Belgium, Bolivia, Brazil, Central African Republic, Chile, Congo, Republic of the, Ecuador, Estonia, Fiji, Gabon, Gambia, Guinea-Bissau, Japan, Kenya, Kosovo, Mongolia, Namibia, Nauru, Netherlands, São Tomé and Príncipe, Sierra Leone, Slovenia, South Africa, South Sudan, Suriname, Taiwan, Ukraine
Countries: Afghanistan, Algeria, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Belarus, Brunei Darussalam, Comoros, Croatia, Egypt, Eritrea, Eswatini, Ghana, Iran, Iraq, Kenya, Lebanon, Malaysia, Maldives, Mauritania, Morocco, Nigeria, Qatar, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Syria, Tunisia, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, Yemen, Zimbabwe
Countries: Albania, Antigua and Barbuda, Belgium, Benin, Bhutan, Bolivia, Burkina Faso, Cape Verde, Central African Republic, Congo, Republic of the, Ecuador, El Salvador, France, Gabon, Guinea-Bissau, Honduras, Iceland, India, Japan, Korea, Republic of, Kyrgyzstan, Madagascar, Mali, Mongolia, Montenegro, Mozambique, Namibia, Nauru, Netherlands, São Tomé and Príncipe, South Africa, Sweden, Taiwan, Timor-Leste (East Timor), United States of America, Uruguay
Countries: Albania, Antigua and Barbuda, Belgium, Benin, Bolivia, Bulgaria, Burkina Faso, Canada, Chile, Congo, Republic of the, Dominica, Ecuador, Estonia, France, Ghana, Guatemala, Iceland, Japan, Korea, Republic of, Kosovo, Latvia, Luxembourg, Micronesia, Mozambique, Namibia, Nauru, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Palau, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, San Marino, São Tomé and Príncipe, Sweden, Taiwan, Uruguay, Venezuela
Countries: no countries relate to this boundary condition
Countries: no countries relate to this boundary condition
This condition is unusual in that it is applied in cases where there is some social discrimination, but it is not pervasive or nationwide. This condition is applied when there is sufficient background evidence to warrant the assertion that discrimination is not anomalous but widespread, and this condition may be applied for example even where if there is no legislative discrimination or where the non-religious may have legal recourse against such discrimination. However, societal discrimination (i.e. discrimination by peers, as opposed to state or legal discrimination) is not easily measured, and for this reason the Report does not currently have similar more severe boundary conditions to capture higher levels of social discrimination per se. In principle these may be introduced in future. However, we consider that countries with actual higher levels of social discrimination against the non-religious will generally already meet other higher level (more severe) boundary conditions under this thematic strand.
Applied when the influence of religion on public life undermines others’ rights, such as SRHR, women’s rights, LGBTI+ rights.
May be applied when the influence is overt (i.e. when religious laws are applied to undermine others’ rights) or covert (i.e. where religious pressure groups exert influence to affect policy)
Countries: Andorra, Armenia, Bahamas, Belize, Bolivia, Croatia, Cuba, Dominica, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Eswatini, Fiji, Gambia, Ghana, Guatemala, Guinea, Hungary, Italy, Jamaica, Liberia, Lithuania, Mexico, Moldova, Montenegro, Nicaragua, Paraguay, Qatar, Saint Lucia, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Solomon Islands, Sri Lanka, Suriname, Timor-Leste (East Timor), Trinidad and Tobago, Ukraine
Applied when overriding acts of oppression by the State are extreme, to the extent that the question of freedom of thought and expression is almost redundant, because all human rights and freedoms are quashed by authorities.
Countries: North Korea
Countries: Algeria, Argentina, Armenia, Bahrain, Belize, Botswana, Brazil, Cambodia, Chile, Costa Rica, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Dominican Republic, Egypt, El Salvador, Eritrea, Finland, Georgia, Germany, Ghana, Greece, Guinea, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Jamaica, Latvia, Libya, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Madagascar, Malta, Moldova, Nepal, Palestine, Papua New Guinea, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russia, Rwanda, Saint Lucia, Serbia, Slovakia, Spain, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Timor-Leste (East Timor), Togo, Tunisia, United Kingdom, Zambia, Zimbabwe
Countries: Argentina, Australia, Bangladesh, Belize, Brunei Darussalam, Burundi, Cameroon, Canada, Comoros, Costa Rica, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Dominica, Egypt, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Fiji, Finland, Germany, Ghana, Guinea, Guyana, Haiti, Hungary, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Jamaica, Kosovo, Lesotho, Liberia, Libya, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Macedonia, Malawi, Malaysia, Maldives, Malta, Marshall Islands, Mauritius, Mexico, Micronesia, Morocco, Nepal, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Niger, Pakistan, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Paraguay, Philippines, Poland, Romania, Rwanda, Saint Lucia, Samoa, Senegal, Singapore, Slovakia, Solomon Islands, Spain, Sri Lanka, Suriname, Switzerland, Togo, Trinidad and Tobago, Tunisia, United Kingdom, Vanuatu, Venezuela, Yemen, Zimbabwe
Countries: Austria, Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Botswana, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Dominica, Equatorial Guinea, Estonia, Fiji, Finland, Gambia, Germany, Greece, Grenada, Guatemala, Italy, Kiribati, Liberia, Liechtenstein, Macedonia, Micronesia, Moldova, Monaco, New Zealand, Panama, Papua New Guinea, Paraguay, Peru, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Rwanda, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, San Marino, Senegal, Serbia, Seychelles, Slovenia, Solomon Islands, Spain, Tanzania, Tonga, Trinidad and Tobago, United Kingdom, Vanuatu, Venezuela
Countries: Algeria, Angola, Azerbaijan, Bangladesh, Belarus, Brazil, Burundi, Central African Republic, Congo, Democratic Republic of, Cuba, Djibouti, Egypt, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Eswatini, Gabon, Gambia, Guinea, Honduras, Hungary, India, Indonesia, Iraq, Kazakhstan, Laos, Libya, Malaysia, Maldives, Morocco, Nicaragua, Nigeria, Oman, Philippines, Russia, Rwanda, Samoa, Somalia, Sudan, Tajikistan, Thailand, Togo, Tunisia, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Venezuela, Viet Nam, Zambia, Zimbabwe
Countries: Andorra, Armenia, Benin, Bhutan, Cambodia, Cameroon, Congo, Republic of the, Côte d'Ivoire, Dominican Republic, Guatemala, Guinea-Bissau, Israel, Italy, Kenya, Kyrgyzstan, Lebanon, Lesotho, Liberia, Macedonia, Madagascar, Malawi, Malaysia, Mali, Mexico, Myanmar (Burma), Niger, Panama, Paraguay, Poland, Senegal, Singapore, South Africa, South Sudan, Sri Lanka, Tanzania, Turkey, Tuvalu, Uganda
Countries: Albania, Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Bangladesh, Belize, Bolivia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Botswana, Bulgaria, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Canada, Cape Verde, Chile, Colombia, Croatia, Denmark, Dominica, Ecuador, El Salvador, Estonia, Ethiopia, Fiji, France, Gambia, Georgia, Ghana, Greece, Guinea-Bissau, Guyana, Haiti, Hungary, India, Ireland, Japan, Kenya, Kiribati, Korea, Republic of, Kosovo, Kuwait, Laos, Latvia, Lebanon, Liberia, Macedonia, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritius, Mexico, Moldova, Monaco, Mongolia, Montenegro, Mozambique, Namibia, Nauru, Nepal, Niger, Nigeria, Panama, Papua New Guinea, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Rwanda, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, São Tomé and Príncipe, Serbia, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Singapore, Slovakia, Solomon Islands, Spain, Sri Lanka, Tajikistan, Tanzania, Thailand, Timor-Leste (East Timor), Tonga, Turkey, Ukraine, United Kingdom, Uruguay, Vanuatu
This condition is applied where there are miscellaneous indicators that organs of the state offer various forms of support for a religion, or to religion in general over non-religious worldviews, suggesting a preference for those beliefs, or that the organs of that religion are privileged.
Countries: Albania, Algeria, Andorra, Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Australia, Austria, Bahamas, Belize, Bhutan, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Brazil, Burundi, Canada, Cape Verde, Chile, Colombia, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Dominican Republic, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Finland, Germany, Ghana, Guatemala, Guyana, Haiti, Iceland, India, Indonesia, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Liberia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Madagascar, Malawi, Malaysia, Mali, Malta, Mauritania, Mauritius, Montenegro, Mozambique, Nepal, New Zealand, Nigeria, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Qatar, Romania, Rwanda, San Marino, Serbia, Seychelles, Singapore, Slovakia, Solomon Islands, Sri Lanka, Tajikistan, Tanzania, Timor-Leste (East Timor), Tunisia, Turkey, Tuvalu, United Kingdom, Vanuatu, Venezuela, Zimbabwe
Countries: Albania, Andorra, Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Australia, Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Benin, Bhutan, Botswana, Bulgaria, Cameroon, Canada, Colombia, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Djibouti, Dominica, El Salvador, Equatorial Guinea, Eswatini, Finland, Germany, Grenada, Guatemala, Guyana, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Jamaica, Kiribati, Korea, Republic of, Laos, Latvia, Liberia, Malawi, Malaysia, Mali, Malta, Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Moldova, Monaco, Myanmar (Burma), Nepal, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Niger, Norway, Palau, Panama, Papua New Guinea, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Romania, Russia, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Samoa, San Marino, Serbia, Singapore, Tanzania, Thailand, Trinidad and Tobago, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Uganda, United Kingdom, United States of America, Vanuatu, Zimbabwe
This condition highlights countries where schools subject children to fundamentalist religious instruction with no real opportunity to question fundamentalist tenets, or where lessons routinely encourage hatred (for example religious or ethnic hatred). The wording “significant number of schools” is not given a rigid quantification (sometimes the worst-offending schools are unregistered, illegal, or otherwise uncounted); however the condition is not applied in cases where only a small number of schools meet the description and may be anomalous, as opposed to being indicative of a widespread problem.
Countries: Afghanistan, Angola, Bangladesh, Barbados, Belarus, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Brazil, Brunei Darussalam, Central African Republic, Chad, Comoros, Djibouti, Egypt, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Eswatini, Ghana, Guinea, Guyana, Hungary, India, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Kuwait, Latvia, Lebanon, Madagascar, Malaysia, Mauritania, Morocco, Myanmar (Burma), Nepal, Nigeria, Oman, Palestine, Paraguay, Qatar, Russia, Samoa, Saudi Arabia, Serbia, Somalia, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Syria, Thailand, Tunisia, United Arab Emirates, Yemen, Zimbabwe
Countries: Angola, Azerbaijan, Bulgaria, Burundi, Cameroon, Canada, Chile, China, Congo, Republic of the, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Ethiopia, Germany, Ghana, Haiti, Hungary, Italy, Kenya, Kyrgyzstan, Laos, Lebanon, Malawi, Malaysia, Malta, Mauritania, Mexico, Nepal, North Korea, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Serbia, Singapore, Tajikistan, Tonga, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Tuvalu, Ukraine, Uzbekistan, Vanuatu, Venezuela, Viet Nam, Zambia
Countries: Algeria, Argentina, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Belarus, Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Costa Rica, Denmark, Djibouti, Dominican Republic, Finland, Georgia, Haiti, Iceland, Indonesia, Iran, Israel, Italy, Jordan, Kuwait, Libya, Liechtenstein, Malaysia, Maldives, Malta, Mauritania, Monaco, Morocco, Myanmar (Burma), Oman, Pakistan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Slovakia, Tunisia, Tuvalu, United Kingdom, Yemen, Zambia
Countries: Cameroon, Canada, Chile, Dominica, Ethiopia, France, Ghana, Guinea, India, Jamaica, Malawi, Malaysia, Mexico, Micronesia, Mongolia, Niger, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Rwanda, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Switzerland, Thailand, Tonga, Tuvalu, Ukraine, United Kingdom, United States of America
Countries: Argentina, Armenia, Belize, Burundi, Cambodia, Chad, China, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Georgia, Germany, Guinea, Haiti, Hungary, Indonesia, Ireland, Jamaica, Jordan, Kosovo, Kuwait, Lesotho, Libya, Malawi, Malaysia, Myanmar (Burma), Nepal, Nicaragua, Niger, Oman, Palestine, Peru, Philippines, Samoa, Switzerland, Thailand, Uganda, United Kingdom, Zambia
Countries: Afghanistan, Algeria, Brazil, Brunei Darussalam, Burundi, China, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Estonia, Grenada, Hungary, India, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Italy, Kyrgyzstan, Macedonia, Madagascar, Malaysia, Montenegro, Morocco, Nicaragua, Nigeria, Pakistan, Panama, Papua New Guinea, Poland, Russia, Saint Lucia, Saudi Arabia, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Tanzania, Togo, Trinidad and Tobago, Turkey, Uganda, United Arab Emirates, Vanuatu, Viet Nam, Yemen, Zimbabwe
Countries: Algeria, Andorra, Argentina, Armenia, Bahamas, Bahrain, Benin, Bhutan, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Brunei Darussalam, Bulgaria, Cambodia, Cameroon, Canada, Cape Verde, Central African Republic, Chad, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Croatia, Cyprus, Denmark, Egypt, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Eswatini, Ethiopia, Finland, Gambia, Georgia, Germany, Haiti, Indonesia, Iran, Israel, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Jordan, Kiribati, Liberia, Libya, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Madagascar, Malawi, Malaysia, Maldives, Mali, Malta, Mauritania, Mauritius, Moldova, Morocco, Myanmar (Burma), Nepal, Nigeria, Oman, Papua New Guinea, Philippines, Portugal, Qatar, Romania, Russia, Samoa, Sierra Leone, Slovakia, Slovenia, Solomon Islands, Spain, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Timor-Leste (East Timor), Tonga, Tunisia, Tuvalu, Uganda, Ukraine, United Kingdom, United States of America, Yemen, Zambia, Zimbabwe
Countries: Algeria, Andorra, Antigua and Barbuda, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Brunei Darussalam, Cameroon, Comoros, Cyprus, Egypt, El Salvador, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Finland, Gambia, Germany, Grenada, Guyana, India, Indonesia, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Malawi, Malaysia, Maldives, Morocco, Myanmar (Burma), Nepal, Oman, Palestine, Papua New Guinea, Poland, Qatar, Russia, Rwanda, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, San Marino, Singapore, Solomon Islands, Somalia, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Suriname, Tanzania, Thailand, Trinidad and Tobago, Tunisia, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, Vanuatu, Yemen, Zambia, Zimbabwe
Countries: Algeria, Argentina, Australia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Canada, Central African Republic, Chad, Denmark, Eritrea, Germany, Haiti, Hungary, Indonesia, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Jamaica, Malawi, Malaysia, Malta, Marshall Islands, Papua New Guinea, Peru, Philippines, Romania, Rwanda, Solomon Islands, Switzerland, Tunisia, United Kingdom, Vanuatu
Countries: Afghanistan, Algeria, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Belize, Brunei Darussalam, Comoros, Djibouti, Egypt, Fiji, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Kuwait, Libya, Macedonia, Malaysia, Maldives, Mauritania, Morocco, Nigeria, Oman, Pakistan, Qatar, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Syria, Tanzania, Tunisia, United Arab Emirates, Yemen
This condition may apply if specifically religious education, religious materials, or specific religious denominations are so tightly controlled that children are in fact over-protected from exposure to religion and are likely unable to explore or construct their own worldview in accordance with their evolving capacities. This condition helps us to classify states (perhaps with secular constitutions) which have criminalized specifically religious beliefs or practices. This condition is not applied if the restricted beliefs or practices are found to be outlawed due to their being of an extremist variety. While this condition does not directly reflect discrimination against non-religious persons or non-religious ideas, it does represent an overall threat to freedom of thought, conscience, religion or belief; such restrictions could spill over to affect non-religious beliefs later; and they pose a risk of backlash against over-zealous secular authorities or even against non-religious individuals by association.
Countries: Algeria, Andorra, Angola, Argentina, Armenia, Australia, Bhutan, Brazil, Brunei Darussalam, Bulgaria, Burkina Faso, Cambodia, Cameroon, Canada, Cape Verde, Chad, Costa Rica, Côte d'Ivoire, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Egypt, El Salvador, Estonia, Eswatini, Finland, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Guinea, Haiti, Honduras, Hungary, Iran, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Jamaica, Jordan, Korea, Republic of, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Macedonia, Malaysia, Maldives, Malta, Mauritius, Montenegro, Myanmar (Burma), Namibia, Nepal, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Pakistan, Papua New Guinea, Paraguay, Peru, Poland, Romania, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Serbia, Slovakia, Spain, Suriname, Switzerland, Thailand, Timor-Leste (East Timor), Togo, Tunisia, Turkey, Turkmenistan, United Kingdom, Uruguay, Vanuatu, Venezuela, Yemen, Zimbabwe
Article 2 of the Constitution establishes Islam as the state religion and requires that all laws are consistent with Islam. Despite the Constitution’s promise of adequate provisions for minorities to practice their religious beliefs freely, many of Pakistan’s laws and policies restrict freedom of religion or belief.3http://www.na.gov.pk/uploads/documents/1333523681_951.pdf The majority religious community is afforded more protections than the non-religious or minority religious groups. The relatively common sectarian and religiously motivated violence against minorities and individuals in Pakistan often goes unpunished.
The Constitution states that Ahmadis are not considered as Muslims, despite their self-identification as Muslims. Additionally, articles 298(b) and 298(c) of the Penal Code4https://www.ilo.org/dyn/natlex/docs/ELECTRONIC/64050/88951/F1412088581/PAK64050%202017.pdf prohibit Ahmadis from self-identifying as Muslims, propagating or disseminating materials about their faith, or calling their houses of worship mosques. Ahmadis have been imprisoned simply for sharing Ahmadiyya literature.5https://www.state.gov/reports/2020-report-on-international-religious-freedom/pakistan/ According to the US State Department:6https://www.state.gov/reports/2021-report-on-international-religious-freedom/pakistan/
“The National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA) designates religious affiliation on passports and requires religious information in national identity card and passport applications. Those wishing to be listed as Muslims must swear they believe Mohammed is the final prophet and must denounce the Ahmadiyya movement’s founder as a false prophet and his followers as non-Muslim. There is no option to state “no religion.” National identity cards are required for all citizens upon reaching the age of 18. Identification cards are used for voting, pension disbursement, social and financial inclusion programs, and other services.”
In 2018 the Islamabad High Court issued a judgment requiring citizens to declare an affidavit of faith to join the armed forces, judiciary, and civil services.7https://www.state.gov/reports/2020-report-on-international-religious-freedom/pakistan/
The Constitution establishes a Federal Shariat Court (FSC) composed of Muslim judges to examine and decide whether any law or provision is “repugnant to the injunctions of Islam.” The Constitution gives the FSC the power to examine a law of its own accord or at the request of the government or a private citizen. The Constitution requires the government to amend the law as directed by the FSC.8https://www.state.gov/reports/2021-report-on-international-religious-freedom/pakistan/
Pakistan’s Penal Code encompasses a number of Islamic legal provisions. The judicial system encompasses several different court systems with overlapping and sometimes competing jurisdictions that reflect differences in civil, criminal, and Islamic jurisprudence. For certain criminal convictions under the Hudud Ordinances,9http://www.pakistani.org/pakistan/legislation/hudood.html; http://cii.gov.pk/publications/h.report.pdf; https://www.hrw.org/news/2006/09/06/pakistan-proposed-reforms-hudood-laws-fall-short including those for rape, extramarital sex, alcohol, and gambling, the Shariah bench of the Supreme Court and the FSC serve as appellate courts. The FSC has the power to review, of its own accord, cases in lower courts that relate to hudud laws and apply to Muslims and non-Muslims.
Government funding is available for Islamic clergy and the building and maintenance of mosques. This funding comes from a 2.5% tax the state levies on all Sunni Muslims. The funds are re-distributed amongst Sunni mosques, madrasahs, and charities. No other religious or non-religious groups are tithed.10https://www.state.gov/reports/2021-report-on-international-religious-freedom/pakistan/
It is a constitutional requirement that the president and prime minister be Muslim. All senior officials, including members of parliament, must swear an oath to protect the country’s Islamic identity and affirm their belief in the finality of the prophet Muhammad.11http://www.na.gov.pk/uploads/documents/1333523681_951.pdf
A total of 10 seats are reserved for non-Muslims in the 342-member National Assembly, while four seats are reserved for non-Muslims in the 104-member Senate. Provincial assemblies also reserve a select number of seats for non-Muslims. In all cases, political parties are responsible for selecting the individuals who hold such seats; they are not selected directly by the constituencies that they represent.12https://www.state.gov/reports/2020-report-on-international-religious-freedom/pakistan/ As atheism is unrecognized, it is not possible for a non-religious person to hold such a position.
Lawmakers or others that critically discuss the Islamist nature of the law, such as suggesting reform of blasphemy laws (see below) or any broader secular reforms, are exposed to potential assassination.13aeon.co/essays/pakistan-s-political-islamists-tried-to-kill-me
In April 2021, the State began rolling out the first stage of its Single National Curriculum (SNC) with a view to standardizing the quality of education received by all children in the country. According to the Ministry of Education, the SNC “focusses on equipping learners with principles and attributes such as truthfulness, honesty, tolerance, respect, peaceful coexistence, environmental awareness & care, democracy, human rights, sustainable development, global citizenship, personal care and safety.”14http://www.mofept.gov.pk/ProjectDetail/MzkyNDc2MjMtY2VjYy00ZDA4LTk5OTUtNzUyNDI3ZWMzN2Rm The curriculum is being implemented in three stages: the first stage concerns the curriculum and textbooks of students in Grades 1-5 during the academic year of 2021-2022; the second stage will be implemented for Grades 6-8 in 2022-23; and the final phase, affecting Grades 9-12 is expected to be initiated in March 2023.
It remains unclear whether the changes implemented are enforceable, since the passage of the 18th Amendment in the Constitution of Pakistan in 201015https://www.dawn.com/news/570524/18th-amendment-and-education- gave the nation’s Provinces the exclusive right to design their curriculum, syllabus and define their education standards.16https://blogs.lse.ac.uk/southasia/2021/10/04/single-national-curriculum-educational-disparities-in-pakistan/ For the first phase, the Federal government has directed all provinces except Sindh to launch the SNC by ensuring its implementation in all public and private schools as well as in religious madrasas.17https://blogs.lse.ac.uk/southasia/2021/10/04/single-national-curriculum-educational-disparities-in-pakistan/
Prior to the design of the SNC, Islamic studies (the “Islamiat”) was integrated with General Knowledge up to Grade 2 and started as a separate subject from Grade 3 onwards. In the SNC, Islamiat starts from Grade 1 as a separate subject up to Grade 12. Research by newspaper Dawn, indicates that the learning requirements and outcomes of the new Islamiat are even more demanding than those already required in madrassas (religious schools).18https://www.dawn.com/news/1572130 Primary school children are now required to have memorized 45 hadiths by Grade 5.
What was once the subject of Ethics – designated for non-Muslim students in lieu of Islamiat from Grade 3 onwards – has been replaced by a new subject “Religious Education. ” This has been introduced for non-Muslim students from Grade 1 onwards for five minority groups in Pakistan (excluding the non-religious).19http://www.mofept.gov.pk/ProjectDetail/MzkyNDc2MjMtY2VjYy00ZDA4LTk5OTUtNzUyNDI3ZWMzN2Rm It is unclear whether Muslim students will be required to study world religions, and it is unclear if the subject of ethics remains available for study for students of any belief group.
Islamic teachings also form the foundation of other compulsory subjects in the curriculum.20https://forbinfull.org/2021/07/19/set-up-to-fail-pakistans-single-national-curriculum-will-only-make-life-harder-for-religious-minority-children/; https://scroll.in/article/1005464/regressive-lessons-and-lowered-standards-pakistans-new-education-curriculum-is-a-big-leap-backward; https://www.dawn.com/news/1572130 According to media reports, “9% of the content in class 3 English textbooks, violated Article 22. As students get older, the situation worsens. The same team found that 23% of the class 4 English textbook and 21% of the class 5 textbook, similarly run afoul of the constitutional safeguards [to protect the right of students to freedom of religion or belief in educational institutions].”21https://indianexpress.com/article/explained/single-national-curriculum-proposed-for-schools-in-pakistan-7373650/ Lessons in Urdu and English have included lessons already incorporated into the Islamiat curriculum, often teaching about important religious figures.22https://www.dawn.com/news/1572130 When challenged on the potential violation of Article 22 of the Constitution the Ministry of Education is reported to have stated that teachers should ask non-Muslim students to step out of the classroom during such sessions, but has not provided an indication on what alternative provisions, if any, should and will be made for them.23https://www.dawn.com/news/1572130
Until the SNC is implemented beyond Grades 1-5, Islamic studies are compulsory for all Muslim students in state-run schools.24http://www.senate.gov.pk/uploads/documents/1505294888_739.PDF Whilst non-Muslims are not required by law to take Islamic studies, and are offered ethical studies as an alternative in some schools, in practice no alternative to Islamic studies is usually available and by consequence many non-Muslims are required to take Islamic studies.25https://dailytimes.com.pk/39753/non-muslim-students-reluctant-to-study-islamic-studies-or-ethics/; https://www.state.gov/reports/2020-report-on-international-religious-freedom/pakistan/ In some places, schools, teachers and students – girls in particular – have frequently been subject to violence and terrorism by the Taliban and other extremist groups.26https://www.hrw.org/news/2017/03/27/pakistan-attacks-schools-devastate-education Many children are unable to attend schools, many schools are run down, and the madrasas, which in some areas provide the only available education, are notorious for teaching revisionist history and hatred of non-Islamic religions and people.27https://d2071andvip0wj.cloudfront.net/education-reform-in-pakistan.pdf; crisisgroup.org/asia/south-asia/pakistan/education-reform-pakistan; https://www.cfr.org/backgrounder/pakistans-education-system-and-links-extremism
In April 2019, the Pakistani government said that it would be taking control of over 30,000 madrasa schools as part of a drive to “mainstream” the Islamic schools and address previously reported concerns regarding the existence of textbooks, educational content and teaching that sought to devalue religious minorities in “an alarming number of schools.”28https://www.reuters.com/article/us-pakistan-madrasas/pakistan-plans-to-bring-30000-madrasas-under-government-control-idUSKCN1S517Z; uscirf.gov/sites/default/files/Pakistan%202014.pdf; https://www.uscirf.gov/sites/default/files/Pakistan.pdf
According to the US State Department International Religious Freedom report 2021:29https://www.state.gov/reports/2021-report-on-international-religious-freedom/pakistan/
“The constitution prohibits discriminatory admission based on religious affiliation to any governmental educational institution. According to regulations, the only factors affecting admission to government schools are students’ grades and home provinces, although students must declare their religious affiliation on application forms. This declaration is also required for private educational institutions, including universities. Students who identify themselves as Muslims must declare in writing they believe Mohammed is the final prophet. Non-Muslims are required to have the head of their local religious communities verify their religious affiliation. There is no provision in the law for atheists.”
Forced “conversion” to Islam is a serious problem faced by some minorities in the country, usually targeting young women and girls as a way of forcibly marrying them into Muslim families.30bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-29008267; https://www.state.gov/reports/2020-report-on-international-religious-freedom/pakistan/
According to the US State Department:31https://www.state.gov/reports/2021-report-on-international-religious-freedom/pakistan/
“Representatives of the Kalash, an indigenous group in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province, continued to report their youth were under pressure from Muslim schoolteachers and others to convert from their traditional beliefs.”
Young women freed from suspected forced marriages for the purpose of conversion have often been reported to live in shelters following their release. On one occasion, one young woman was accused of ‘apostasy’ by local clerics who called for her death after she left her husband.32https://www.state.gov/reports/2020-report-on-international-religious-freedom/pakistan/
The government designates religious affiliation on identity documents such as passports and in national identity card applications. Applicants must state their religion when applying for a passport. “No Religion” is not accepted as an answer.33https://www.state.gov/reports/2021-report-on-international-religious-freedom/pakistan/
Neither civil nor common law marriage are recognised in Pakistan, and religion predominates over family life and law in a variety of extremely prejudicial ways, including:34https://www.state.gov/wp-content/uploads/2020/05/PAKISTAN-2019-INTERNATIONAL-RELIGIOUS-FREEDOM-REPORT.pdf
In the absence of specific language in the law authorizing civil or common law marriage, marriage certificates are signed by religious authorities and registered with the local marriage registrar. The 2016 Sindh Hindu Marriage Act (as amended in 2018)35http://sindhlaws.gov.pk/setup/publications/PUB-18-000069.pdf and the 2017 Hindu Marriage Act36https://na.gov.pk/uploads/documents/1491458181_468.pdf (applying to all other provinces) codified legal mechanisms to formally register and prove the legitimacy of Hindu marriages.37https://www.state.gov/reports/2021-report-on-international-religious-freedom/pakistan/ However there remain challenges in the implementation of the Hindu Marriage Acts, which affect the realization of rights.38https://www.dawn.com/news/1632510/implementation-of-hindu-marriage-law-remains-a-challenge-moot-told; https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/pakistan/pak-hindus-deprived-of-legal-marital-rights/articleshow/81012720.cms
In addition, the Sindh Commission on the Status of Women has noted that the caste system within the Hindu community remains a large challenge to implementation, as cases of women and girls of lower castes are not afforded the same scrutiny as those belonging to higher castes.39https://www.dawn.com/news/1632510/implementation-of-hindu-marriage-law-remains-a-challenge-moot-told
Some personal laws regulating marriage, divorce, and inheritance for minority communities date from pre-partition British legislation.40https://www.state.gov/reports/2020-report-on-international-religious-freedom/pakistan/; https://hrma.punjab.gov.pk/system/files/THE%20DIVORCE%20ACT%2C1869.pdf Attempts in 2019 to replace legislation dating back to the 1800s governing Christian marriage and divorce were hampered by disagreements between different Christian denominations around Christian doctrine, specifically as it applies to divorce.41https://www.dawn.com/news/1514913; https://www.ucanews.com/news/christian-marriage-and-divorce-bill-ready-in-pakistan/91467#; https://scroll.in/article/937194/after-150-years-pakistan-is-trying-to-change-the-biased-laws-governing-christians; https://dailytimes.com.pk/459454/christian-marriage-and-divorce-act-2019-a-long-awaited-legislation/
Women are placed at a disadvantage under personal status laws and face discrimination in practice.42https://www.hrw.org/world-report/2020/country-chapters/pakistan#3775af; https://www.hrw.org/world-report/2021/country-chapters/pakistan#723967
In March 2021, the Pakistani Taliban threatened organizers of the ‘Aurat’ March (Women’s March held to coincide with International Women’s Day) with vigilante justice, writing that the march organizers needed to “[f]ix your ways, there are still many young Muslims here who know how to protect Islam and the boundaries set by Allah.”43https://tribune.com.pk/story/2291634/peshawar-court-orders-registration-of-fir-against-aurat-march-islamabad-organisers Religious groups held demonstrations in several cities to demand that the government prosecute the march organizers for blasphemy, and they threatened vigilante action.44https://end-blasphemy-laws.org/2021/04/pakistan-false-blasphemy-allegations-used-to-harass-womens-rights-activists/ The organizers were subsequently charged with “blasphemy.”45https://www.voanews.com/a/extremism-watch_pakistans-feminists-fight-blasphemy-cases/6205721.html
The organizers of the marches had aimed to draw attention to the challenges Pakistani women face in their daily lives using the slogan “my body, my control,” but were immediately met with a disinformation campaign designed to discredit them and paint them as immoral, which included doctored images and video clips.46https://theprint.in/go-to-pakistan/pakistanis-cry-blasphemy-on-twitter-after-spotting-french-flag-at-aurat-march/619720/ Those sharing the content included journalists and political figures with social media followings reported to be in the millions.
Marchers were accused of displaying banners and chanting slogans with “blasphemous” content. They were also accused of “subscribing to a foreign agenda” after the red, white, and purple flag of the Women Democratic Front of Pakistan (WDF) – a feminist organization based in Islamabad – was falsely identified as the French flag.47https://factcheck.afp.com/flag-pakistani-feminist-organisation-and-shows-purple-not-blue-found-french-tricolour-flag
LGBTI+ individual face discrimination and violence. Article 377 of the Penal Code48http://www.pakistani.org/pakistan/legislation/1860/actXLVof1860.html criminalizes “intercourse against the order of nature,” which is believed to deter people from acknowledging or publicizing their sexual or gender identities. Transgender and intersex people can register as a “third gender” in official documents, and some were recognized in the 2017 census. In 2018, the Parliament passed the Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Act,49https://na.gov.pk/uploads/documents/1614147088_465.pdf; https://www.icj.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/Pakistan-Transgender-Advocacy-Analysis-brief-2020-ENG.pdf granting transgender people the right to chose their gender and to have that recognized in official documents and the prohibition of depriving transgender people rights such as the right to vote.50https://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2018/05/09/609700652/pakistan-passes-historic-transgender-rights-bill?t=1603895179330 However, it is reported that they face discrimination with regards to housing and employment in addition to violence and harassment.51https://www.bsg.ox.ac.uk/blog/we-might-die-hunger-being-killed-virus-how-covid-19-compounds-challenges-pakistans-transgender; https://www.hrw.org/world-report/2021/country-chapters/pakistan#72d33e At least 65 transgender women have been killed in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province since 2015.52https://www.hrw.org/world-report/2021/country-chapters/pakistan#72d33e
The right to freedom of expression, including media freedom, is frequently violated in Pakistan. Laws criminalizing sedition, defamation as well as terror offences are regularly used to silence critics. The 2016 Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act53https://na.gov.pk/uploads/documents/1472635250_246.pdf has given the telecommunication authority unchecked powers to censor material online, often justified by an intention to remove blasphemous and pornographic content.54https://freedomhouse.org/country/pakistan/freedom-world/2021; https://www.hrw.org/world-report/2021/country-chapters/pakistan#e81181
Human rights organizations report an increasing crackdown on press freedom. Journalists who publish critical pieces have been subjected to harassment, intimidation, censorship and even arrest. Women journalists report being subjected to a “well-defined and coordinated campaign” of social media attacks, including death and rape threats against those whose reporting has been critical of the government.55https://www.hrw.org/world-report/2021/country-chapters/pakistan#e81181; https://www.amnesty.org/en/location/asia-and-the-pacific/south-asia/pakistan/report-pakistan/
Despite all the restrictions on free expression, Pakistan’s media is diverse and varied. This notwithstanding, blasphemy laws and other laws are used by the state to justify censorship. Journalists are targeted by non-state actors, as well as by political, military, and intelligence operatives.56https://rsf.org/en/pakistan In fear of their lives, journalists increasingly self-censor themselves.57https://www.hrw.org/world-report/2021/country-chapters/pakistan#72d33e Impunity in cases concerning murdered journalists remains the norm.58https://freedomhouse.org/country/pakistan/freedom-world/2020; https://www.hrw.org/world-report/2021/country-chapters/pakistan#e81181
Chapter XV of Pakistan’s Penal Code contains a number of sections that institute blasphemy and religious defamation laws: Article 295-A outlaws “deliberate and malicious acts intended to outrage religious feelings of any class by insulting its religion or religious beliefs”; Article 295-B outlaws the defaming of the Quran; Article 295-C bans the use of insulting remarks about the Prophet; Article 298 prohibits people from saying anything that has the deliberate intent to wound religious feelings; and Article 298-B punishes any misuse of epithets, descriptions, or titles reserved for certain holy personages or places.59http://www.pakistani.org/pakistan/legislation/1860/actXLVof1860.html
Blasphemy laws are further bolstered by the Anti-Terrorism Act, which states that any action, including speech, intended to incite religious hatred is punishable by imprisonment.60Anti-terrorism Act 1997: https://www.ilo.org/dyn/natlex/docs/ELECTRONIC/81777/88943/F435058093/PAK81777.pdf (and amendments see, https://na.gov.pk/en/search_content.php) Whilst applicable nationwide, the country’s blasphemy laws are used predominantly in the Punjab province, where local authorities have repeatedly sought to censor expressions deemed “blasphemous,” including textbooks.61https://end-blasphemy-laws.org/countries/asia-central-southern-and-south-eastern/pakistan/
From 2010 onward, the government has been aggressive in its blocking of online “blasphemous” content. Under the 2016 Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act (PECA),62https://na.gov.pk/uploads/documents/1472635250_246.pdf the Ministry of Religious Affairs and Interfaith Harmony is responsible for reviewing internet traffic and reporting blasphemous or offensive content to the Pakistan Telecommunications Authority (PTA) for possible removal, or to the Federal Investigative Agency (FIA) for possible criminal prosecution.63https://www.state.gov/reports/2021-report-on-international-religious-freedom/pakistan/; https://www.state.gov/wp-content/uploads/2020/05/PAKISTAN-2019-INTERNATIONAL-RELIGIOUS-FREEDOM-REPORT.pdf
Blasphemy laws carry the death penalty or life in prison, and tend to target non-believers, religious minorities and dissenting Muslims. Though there has been an effective moratorium on carrying out the death sentence in recent years, dozens of people remain on death row, and furthermore those accused of blasphemy are often murdered before or after, and in some cases during, any trial that takes place (see below).64https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/jul/29/pakistani-man-tahir-ahmed-naseem-blasphemy-laws-shot-dead-in-peshawar-court; https://end-blasphemy-laws.org/2021/07/pakistan-man-accused-of-blasphemy-attacked-and-severely-injured-on-his-way-to-court/
Notably, for a charge of blasphemy to be made in Pakistan an allegation is all that is required – and it may be highly subjective, since the law does not provide clear guidance on what constitutes a violation. Proof of intent or evidence against the alleged is not necessary.
Most “blasphemy” cases are either brought by those wishing to undermine minority groups or by those wishing to eliminate individuals against whom they have a grudge. The mere accusation of “blasphemy” against someone can result in the accused’s life being endangered. Mullahs will often come to court to intimidate the judiciary, and obtaining a lawyer to ensure a fair trial is often impossible. In a recent incident, in July 2020, an Ahmadi man was shot dead in court while standing trial for “blasphemy.”65https://www.dw.com/en/pakistan-man-accused-of-blasphemy-shot-dead-at-court-trial/a-54365714
Those accused of “blasphemy,” and who have been acquitted by the courts, often either flee Pakistan or are assassinated on their release from jail. Further, those who represent alleged “blasphemers” run the risk of being accused of apostasy. In May 2014, Rashid Rehman, the lawyer for Junaid Hafeez, was shot dead for representing him.66https://www.reuters.com/article/us-pakistan-blasphemy-idUSBREA4709N20140508
Most recently, Saif ul Malook – who represented Asia Bibi, a Christian woman convicted and subsequently acquitted of blasphemy charges, as well as Christian couple Shagufta Kausar and her husband Shafqat Emmanuel whose conviction for “blasphemy” were quashed in June 202167https://www.dawn.com/news/1627319/lhc-acquits-christian-couple-in-blasphemy-case – has reported receiving death threats on social media as a result of his work on cases of Christians who have fallen foul of the law.68https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-57516630; https://www.ucanews.com/news/call-for-security-for-pakistani-blasphemy-lawyer-after-threats/92862
Prosecuting those who commit murder in the name of winning retribution against “blasphemers” is also problematized by Islamists and others who intimidate or threaten prosecutors.69https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/jul/29/pakistani-man-tahir-ahmed-naseem-blasphemy-laws-shot-dead-in-peshawar-court In 2017 the lead prosecutor of the killers of Mashal Khan (see Highlighted Cases below) was forced to quit reportedly under extreme pressure from the families of the accused.70dawn.com/news/1366186
Blasphemy laws are also used specifically against the minority Ahmadi community. Article 298 of Pakistan’s Penal Code contains anti-Ahmadiyya blasphemy legislation. Whilst Ahmadis have the Quran as their holy book, they can be punished with up to three years in prison by just referring to their faith as Islam.
Amnesty International has indicated that accusations of “blasphemy” have “widened to include artists, human rights defenders and journalists” since 2020.71https://www.amnesty.org/en/location/asia-and-the-pacific/south-asia/pakistan/report-pakistan/ In August, police reportedly filed a case against female actor Saba Qamar and male singer Bilal Saeed for recording a music video in a mosque. The clip was released online and led to large protests in the city of Lahore during which the leaders of religious party Tehreek-i-Labbaik Pakistan threatened “vengeance” against the artists. That same month, the police filed a case against journalist and human rights defender Marvi Sirmed under Pakistan’s blasphemy laws for a tweet she posted.72https://www.amnesty.org/en/location/asia-and-the-pacific/south-asia/pakistan/report-pakistan/
Academics have also fallen foul of these laws.73http://hrcp-web.org/hrcpweb/academic-freedom-under-grave-threat/ In June 2020, professor Sajid Soomro – an author and professor at Shah Abdul Latif University – was reportedly arrested from his home in Khairpur, in Pakistan’s Sindh province, on charges of having violated Section 295-A.74https://humanists.international/2020/06/pakistani-authorities-should-release-professor-detained-on-blasphemy-charges/ Weeks later, another academic Dr Afanah Mallah faced accusations of blasphemy for coming to Soomro’s defense.75https://www.dawn.com/news/1563190; https://www.voanews.com/south-central-asia/pakistan-human-rights-body-warns-academic-freedom-under-grave-threat
Perhaps the most famous cases of those killed extrajudicially in relation to blasphemy laws are Salman Taseer and Shahbaz Bhatti. On 4 January 2011, the then-governor of Punjab state, Salman Taseer, was gunned down by his own bodyguard, Mumtaz Qadri, in broad daylight at Islamabad’s Kohsar Market. Qadri said he killed Taseer over what he called the politician’s vocal opposition to blasphemy laws. Two weeks after Taseer was killed, the only Christian minister in the federal cabinet, Shahbaz Bhatti, was gunned down in Islamabad. He too was a critic of the blasphemy laws.76https://www.bbc.com/news/world-south-asia-12111831
Politicians are only the most high profile of numerous other cases in which individuals are either locked up for many years awaiting various long-drawn out stages of the trial process, or are hurt or killed extrajudicially. The victims frequently include children, minorities, and other vulnerable people.
In late July 2021, an eight-year old Hindu boy was accused of intentionally urinating on a carpet in the library of an Islamic religious school, where religious books were kept; he was the youngest person to be charged with “blasphemy.”77https://end-blasphemy-laws.org/2021/08/pakistan-charges-against-8-year-old-dropped/ Details on how the situation escalated to the boy being charged are unclear. The child spent one week in jail without understanding the situation, a family member told the Guardian.78https://amp.theguardian.com/global-development/2021/aug/09/eight-year-old-becomes-youngest-person-charged-with-blasphemy-in-pakistan When the child was released on bail, anger broke out in the conservative Muslim community. A crowd attacked the local Hindu temple, burning down the door and destroying the idols.79https://www.indiatoday.in/world/story/eight-year-old-hindu-boy-pakistan-youngest-charged-with-blasphemy-1839077-2021-08-10; https://www.straitstimes.com/asia/south-asia/mob-in-pakistan-sacks-hindu-temple-over-blasphemy-row Hindu residents of Rahim Yar Khan reportedly fled their homes in fear of further escalation. The boy and his family are now in protective custody for fear of reprisals.
Attacks on places of worship have been increasing in the last few years, including the Mata Rani Bhatiyani Mandir Hindu temple in Sindh in January 2020, the Sikh Gurudwara Shri Janam Sthan in January 2020, and a Hindu temple in Karak in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa in December 2020.80https://www.independent.co.uk/asia/south-asia/mob-hindu-temple-pakistan-india-b1897924.html The government in Pakistan has reportedly failed to address the issue.
In two separate incidents in 2019, mobs attacked Hindu properties and places of worship in the southern Sindh province after allegations of “blasphemy” were made against a Hindu school principal and a Hindu veterinarian.81https://www.amnesty.org/en/latest/news/2020/07/pakistan-must-protect-religious-freedom-for-hindus/
On 1 January 2021, an Anti-Terrorism Court in Islamabad reportedly sentenced three men to death for “blasphemy” on social media, and condemned a fourth person to 10 years in prison. In addition the court issued perpetual arrest warrants for four others implicated in the case, who remained at large, according to the Pakistani daily newspaper Dawn.82https://www.dawn.com/news/1600385 The four were among 17 originally arrested in March 2017 pending an investigation into allegations that they had shared objectionable or “blasphemous” content on social media.83https://end-blasphemy-laws.org/2021/01/pakistan-sentences-three-to-death-for-social-media-posts/
In May 2021, tiktoker Jannat Mirza was reportedly charged with “blasphemy” under section 295-A of the Penal Code after she was pictured wearing a cross strung from her waist. Charges were filed by Christian pastors who claimed that Mirza’s actions had hurt the religious sentiments of thousands of Christians living in the country.84https://en.dailypakistan.com.pk/29-May-2021/jannatmirza-faces-police-complaint-over-blasphemy-against-jesus-video
Pakistan has no specific statutory law that criminalizes apostasy. However, renouncing Islam is widely considered by clerics to be a form of “blasphemy.”85loc.gov/law/help/apostasy/index.php#pakistan; https://www.state.gov/reports/2020-report-on-international-religious-freedom/pakistan/
The Pakistani government is known to harass – and at times prosecute – human rights defenders, lawyers, and journalists for criticizing government officials and policies.86https://www.hrw.org/world-report/2021/country-chapters/pakistan#e81181
According to Human Rights Watch, in 2020:87https://www.hrw.org/world-report/2021/country-chapters/pakistan#e81181
“Authorities used draconian sedition and counterterrorism laws to stifle dissent, and strictly regulated civil society groups and organizations critical of government actions or policies.
Nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) reported intimidation, harassment, and surveillance […] by government authorities. The government used the “Regulation of INGOs in Pakistan” policy to impede the registration and functioning of international humanitarian and human rights groups.”
According to the US State Department’s 2021 International Religious Freedom Report:88https://www.state.gov/reports/2021-report-on-international-religious-freedom/pakistan/
“Human rights and religious freedom activists and members of minority religious groups continued to report that they exercised caution and, occasionally, self-censorship when speaking in favor of religious tolerance because of a societal climate of intolerance and fear. Some activists reported receiving death threats because of their work.”
“The use of enforced disappearances to punish dissent became more public and widespread, with people being abducted by intelligence agencies in broad daylight from urban centres.”
Among those who have faced detention are human rights defenders. Despite the government taking some steps to criminalize the practice of enforced disappearance, there exists a culture of impunity for those accountable, who are known to include law enforcement agencies.90https://www.amnesty.org/en/location/asia-and-the-pacific/south-asia/pakistan/report-pakistan/; https://www.hrw.org/world-report/2021/country-chapters/pakistan#e81181
Mashal Khan, a student who referred to himself as a ‘humanist’ on his Facebook page, was murdered by his fellow university students for alleged “blasphemy,” on 13 April 201791https://www.dawn.com/news/1387707; tribune.com.pk/story/1382848/journalism-student-killed-mardan-university-alleged-blasphemy/ According to Pakistani media, a large group of students were involved in the attack after Khan was accused of posting “blasphemous” content online. Khan appears to have posted routinely against discrimination and in favor of human dignity. Khan was reportedly shot in the head and then beaten with sticks. Video footage circulated on social media that showed his lifeless body being attacked. Police were reportedly present during the attack but claimed they were unable to intervene due to the large number of attackers present. The official police report into Mashal’s death says there is no evidence supporting any “blasphemy” allegation. 57 suspects went on trial in 2017. The court convicted 31 people, sentenced one individual to death, two more to life imprisonment, while acquitting 26 individuals.92https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2019/03/21/pakistan-convicts-two-over-mashal-khan-blasphemy-lynching-case/ Mashal Khan’s father, Iqbal Khan, is reported to have said he rejected any attempt at “reconciliation” by the families of those who killed his son, saying “If someone wants it [reconciliation] then he should watch the videos of the brutal killing of my son.”93https://www.samaa.tv/pakistan/2017/09/iqbal-khan-rules-reconciliation-mashal-khans-killers/ In November 2020, Peshawar High Court reportedly commuted the death sentence handed down to one of the individuals convicted of Khan’s lynching – the only one to be sentenced to death. The court dismissed all other appeals, maintaining the life sentences and jail terms awarded to the 32 other convicts.94https://end-blasphemy-laws.org/2020/11/pakistan-developments-in-the-quest-for-justice-for-mashal-khan/ However, in January 2022, the Supreme Court agreed to hear a set of appeals by the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government seeking to enhance the sentences of those convicted of Khan’s murder. The three-court bench is also expected to hear appeals for acquittal of several individuals convicted.95https://www.dawn.com/news/1668997/supreme-court-to-hear-pleas-for-harsh-sentences-in-mashal-khan-case
In January 2017, several bloggers and activists accused of atheism or “blasphemy” were reportedly forcibly disappeared apparently by state security services.96https://www.hrw.org/news/2017/01/10/pakistan-bloggers-feared-abducted When they were released, some reported having been tortured in detention.
Fauzia Ilyas is the founder of the Atheist & Agnostic Alliance Pakistan (AAAP), which claims over 3,000 supporters. With strict blasphemy and apostasy laws, the very existence of the AAAP appears to have been taken as prima facie evidence of a crime. Custody of Fauzia’s daughter was granted to her ex-husband, a devout Muslim, apparently on the basis of Fauzia having left Islam. In 2015 a Lahore court initiated criminal proceedings and issued an arrest warrant against Fauzia. Fauzia fled to the Netherlands where she is currently seeking asylum, along with her colleague and husband, A. Gilani, a spokesperson for AAAP.
In 2013, Junaid Hafeez, a visiting lecturer of English in Bahauddin Zakaria University (Multan, Punjab province) was accused by a student affiliated with Islami Jamiat Talaba of insulting the Prophet Muhammad on Facebook. Hafeez was arrested and jailed on “blasphemy” charges. Since June 2014, he has been kept in solitary confinement, in conditions that were described as “extreme” between 2018-2019.97https://www.amnesty.org/en/latest/news/2019/09/pakistan-authorities-immediately-unconditionally-release-junaid-hafeez/ His trial – which involved eight different judges – was lengthy and incurred severe delays following the murder of Junaid’s counsel, Rashid Rehman (see below). In December 2019, it was reported that Hafeez was sentenced to death for “blasphemy.”98https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-50878432
Rashid Rehman, a lawyer who agreed to defend Junaid Hafeez, was murdered in 2014. Rehman was special coordinator for the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan in Multan. The Hafeez trial had been conducted in jail because of the threat to his life, and Rehman himself received death threats for representing Hafeez. Rehman reported the threats to the Multan Bar Association, however no measures were taken to provide him with security. His colleagues at the Human Rights Commission also urged the government to provide Rehman with security. In May 2014, two men walked into Rehman’s offices and shot him dead.99https://www.independent.co.uk/incoming/pakistani-lawyer-rashid-rehman-murdered-after-taking-blasphemy-case-9341021.html They have not been caught and activists allege that the government has sough to bury the case.
|↑2, ↑6, ↑8, ↑10, ↑29, ↑31, ↑33, ↑37, ↑88||https://www.state.gov/reports/2021-report-on-international-religious-freedom/pakistan/|
|↑5, ↑7, ↑12, ↑32||https://www.state.gov/reports/2020-report-on-international-religious-freedom/pakistan/|
|↑9||http://www.pakistani.org/pakistan/legislation/hudood.html; http://cii.gov.pk/publications/h.report.pdf; https://www.hrw.org/news/2006/09/06/pakistan-proposed-reforms-hudood-laws-fall-short|
|↑18, ↑22, ↑23||https://www.dawn.com/news/1572130|
|↑20||https://forbinfull.org/2021/07/19/set-up-to-fail-pakistans-single-national-curriculum-will-only-make-life-harder-for-religious-minority-children/; https://scroll.in/article/1005464/regressive-lessons-and-lowered-standards-pakistans-new-education-curriculum-is-a-big-leap-backward; https://www.dawn.com/news/1572130|
|↑27||https://d2071andvip0wj.cloudfront.net/education-reform-in-pakistan.pdf; crisisgroup.org/asia/south-asia/pakistan/education-reform-pakistan; https://www.cfr.org/backgrounder/pakistans-education-system-and-links-extremism|
|↑28||https://www.reuters.com/article/us-pakistan-madrasas/pakistan-plans-to-bring-30000-madrasas-under-government-control-idUSKCN1S517Z; uscirf.gov/sites/default/files/Pakistan%202014.pdf; https://www.uscirf.gov/sites/default/files/Pakistan.pdf|
|↑41||https://www.dawn.com/news/1514913; https://www.ucanews.com/news/christian-marriage-and-divorce-bill-ready-in-pakistan/91467#; https://scroll.in/article/937194/after-150-years-pakistan-is-trying-to-change-the-biased-laws-governing-christians; https://dailytimes.com.pk/459454/christian-marriage-and-divorce-act-2019-a-long-awaited-legislation/|
|↑60||Anti-terrorism Act 1997: https://www.ilo.org/dyn/natlex/docs/ELECTRONIC/81777/88943/F435058093/PAK81777.pdf (and amendments see, https://na.gov.pk/en/search_content.php)|