NGO’s report on Pakistan for the Universal Periodic Review under the UN Human Rights Council Session, May 2008
A report was presented by a number of organizations on behalf of the civil society of Pakistan in February 2008. It was coordinated ably by the National Commission for Justice and Peace, and Democratic Commission for Human Development. The entire report is worthy of notice and follow-up. Here we present only a few excerpts of the document:
2a. Despite the pledges made during the candidacy for membership of the Human Rights Council, the Government of Pakistan (GOP) failed to sign and ratify CAT, ICCPR and the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of Migrant Workers and their families. The ICESCR was signed, however, not ratified.
2b. Government of Pakistan ignored the almost all 188 recommendations made by the Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief after his visit in 1995 about non-discrimination on the basis of religion and bringing changes in laws and policies to building a culture of interfaith peace and tolerance, further the observations made by his successor in A/HRC/4/21/Add.1 Para 243.
2CI. Laws that were discriminatory and against the human rights standards continued to be part of the statute. Moreover the will to implement the existing safeguards and stopping abuse of laws on part of the government seemed lacking. (emphasis added)
2CIV. Under the circular No. F-1(6)/2001-Cord issued by Election Commission of Pakistan, maintained separate electoral lists for the members of Ahmadi community which is a source of sheer religious discrimination and reason for disenfranchisement of the Ahmadi community. (emphasis added)
3c. GOP failed to make a human rights policy in the country. No effort was made to develop any mechanism for implementation of the commitments under the international human rights treaties and independent assessment of the performance thereof.
4(a). National Human Rights institutions do not exist in the real sense (according to the Paris Principles). A promise was made in a Presidential speech in the National Human Rights conference in April 2000 to make a National Human Rights Commission which remained unfulfilled. A bill initiated in the National Assembly in 2004 was never debated in the parliament till 2007.
At the end, the Report makes 13 sterling recommendations to the Government of Pakistan and the UN Human Rights Council.
Findings of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom
Washington: The Daily Times, Lahore of May 4, 2008 reported as follows, (extracts):
US religious rights panel wants Pakistan, Vietnam blacklisted
US Commission on International Religious freedom says, Pakistan government’s response towards violence against minorities inadequate
Washington: A United States religious freedom watch dog on Friday asked the State Department to include Pakistan, Vietnam and Turkmenistan in its global blacklist of countries violating religious freedom, AFP reported.
Inadequate response: Pakistan should be blacklisted because of inadequate government response to sectarian violence against Shias, Ahmadis, Christians and Hindus, the Commission told Reuters.
It also referred to the growing political power and influence of religious extremists in Indonesia, “who harass and sometimes instigate violence against moderate Muslim leaders and members of religious minorities. There are persistent fears that Indonesia’s commitment to secular governance, ethnic and religious pluralism, and a culture of tolerance will be eroded by some who promote extremist interpretations of Islam,” it said. AGENCIES
State Of The World’s Minorities 2008 Report mentions Ahmadis’ situation in Pakistan at length
Minority Rights Group International issued its report on State of the World’s Minorities 2008 (Events of 2007). It has a chapter on Pakistan. The report is edited by Ishbel Matheson, and includes a Preface by Professor Wangari Maathai, founder of the Green Belt Movement and 2004 Nobel Peace Prize winner.
The Report deals with Pakistan on its pages 21-25, and delves on victimization of Ahmadis at some length. It mentions that “Rabwah remains a town under siege”. It quotes I.A. Rehman, director of the HRCP as, “ The Ahmadis, among Pakistan’s minority communities, face the worst discrimination.”
US report mentions Ahmadis’ loss of religious freedom in Pakistan
Washington: The Daily Times, Lahore published a US report from Washington, sent by the daily’s rep there, Mr. Khalid Hasan. Headlines and extracts:
Religious intolerance in Pakistan widespread: US
International Religious Freedom report says discrimination against minorities prevalent. Says promotions for minorities limited.
It said, “Specific laws that discriminate against religious minorities include anti-Ahmadi and blasphemy laws. The Ahmadiyya community continued to face governmental and societal discrimination and legal bars to the practice of its religious beliefs. Members of other Islamic sects also claimed governmental discrimination.”
There is life imprisonment for defiling, damaging or desecrating the holy Qur’an and 10 years in jail for insulting another’s religious feelings. “These laws are often used to settle personal scores as well as to intimidate vulnerable Muslims, sectarian opponents, and religious minorities,” said the annual review of religious freedom around the world.
Discrimination against Ahmadis by Saudi government
An Ahmadi, who had been selected for a job in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia received the following E-mail from the company handling his visa formalities; it is reproduced as received:
Date: Mon, 5 May 2008 03:25:32 -0700 (PDT)
“ erc alhuribi” <email@example.com>
Subject: Re: arrival at KSA
To: “mehdi sardar” <an-ideal- firstname.lastname@example.org>
Please be advice that we have dropped the idea of recruiting you as have no hand in processing your visa from KSA consulate in ISLAMABAD since your religion is AHMADIAH.
If you want to process your visa change the religion in your passport and resubmit to RAJA MUSHTAQ.
His Majesty, King Abdullah was in the international news during the last quarter of 2008 for his major initiative in the field of inter-faith dialogue. However, if his government indulges in the kind of duplicity apparent in the above E-mail and the treatment Ahmadis received from his officials in Jeddah in 2006 (large scale arrest from a place of worship, maltreatment, followed by unjustified extradition) his verbal intentions will lack the credibility that comes only from facts on the ground.
According to a recent press report the Saudi monarch said, “…We are a voice of justice and values and humanity, that we are a voice of co-existence and a just and rational dialogue” (The Dawn; June 5, 2008). But his officials want the visa applicant to change his religion (in fact ‘denomination’) before his visa could be processed. This is hardly the environment, in which a credible and meaningful interfaith dialogue can proceed further.