Christian League of Pakistan in America PA, called on General Jehangir Karamat, Ambassador of Pakistan in USA.


Washington DC. July 21, 2005. A 3 members delegation comprising of Mr. Anjum Bhatti, President CLPA, Ch. Rashid Akhtar, Chairman and Mr. Augustine Jalal-Press Secretary called on General Jehangir Karamat the ambassador of Pakistan in America. The delegation appreciated the deep concern of General Jehangir Karamat for Christian in Pakistan as well as in America for being kind to listen and understand the problems of minorities in Pakistan. At this occasion the delegation shared number of issues regarding human rights and minority rights in Pakistan. Mr. Anjum Bhatti shared the introduction and activities of the League and presented a memorandum on current situation of minorities in Pakistan. Mr. Anjum Bhatti President of CLPA said in presentation that League is working on non-profit basis, registered in America, working for the Minority Rights especially the Christians in Pakistan. Our objectives are to promote Human Rights in Pakistan, through peace dialogue, promoting culture of tolerance and acceptance. The League also works for the reconciliation and rehabilitation of the victims of violence, religious discrimination, persecution and hostility. The League raises its voice for the alleviation of the atrocious discriminatory laws in Pakistan. Persecution of religious minorities especially the Christians is strongly condemned. The League emphasizes the need of abolishing terrorism and religious intolerance. Theoretically the Constitution of Pakistan provides religious freedom and safeguards to religious minorities. However continued incidents of violence against religious minority groups, attacks and destruction of their places of worship, killing and rape of the members of minority communities, is a matter of grave concern. During October 2001-December 2002, 41 Christians died and 91 injured as a result of attacks on Churches and Christian Institutions but none of the culprits of seven terrorist attacks have been brought to justice so far. This kind of situation still prevails even today in the year 2005. This alarming situation is partly due to the apathy on part of the successive governments and partly because in Pakistan a number of laws and policies exist which give preferential treatment to the majority religious group. The minority religious communities face infringement of civil and political rights as well economic, social and cultural rights due to this religious discrimination. The memorandum pertained as: We would like to mention few examples to show that constitution is heavily biased and discriminatory to religious minorities: i) Islam is a state religion (Art. 2) ii) The Head of State has to be a Muslim, Art. 41 (2) iii) A Council of Islamic Ideology is functioning in the country for last 48 years with an advisory constitutional role to see that the law of the land is Islamic, Art. 228 iv) A Federal Shariat Court is functioning as an alternative judicial system that has additional powers similar to those of the Council of Islamic Ideology, Art. 203.A-J. A non-Muslim can not be a lawyer or judge in this court and has powers to declare any law defunct if repugnant to Islam and to suggest amendments and interpret in such laws under Art. 203-D There are other laws, which are source of human rights violations on the basis of religion. i) The successive governments have failed to avoid misuse of blasphemy laws (sections 295- B&C, 298 A, B & C of the Pakistan Penal Code). These laws deal with offenses pertaining to religion and have been major sources of intimidation and persecution of religious minorities since their introduction in 80s. According to the statistics provided by National Commission for Justice and Peace, Pakistan (NCJP) that 537 persons have been accused under blasphemy laws during 1986-2003, 227 (42%) were Muslims and 310 (58%) of religious minorities (Christians, Ahmadis & Hindus). 16 accused of blasphemy has been killed arbitrarily, including Justice Arif Iqbal Bhatti of the Lahore High Court who passed orders of vindicating a blasphemy accused. ii) The Law of Evidence reduces the value of court testimony of a Muslim women and non- Muslim citizen to half of that of a Muslim male, in cases constituted under Islamic laws. The situation prevailing in Pakistan is violation of various international human rights standards, for instance Article 4 of the UN Declaration on the rights of Persons belonging to National, Ethnic, Religious and Linguistic Minorities which ensures minorities of their rights and fundamental freedoms. Article 27 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights also guarantees the rights of minorities. Article 2 of the Declaration on the Elimination of All Forms of Intolerance and Discrimination based on Religion or Belief also denies discrimination on the basis of religion or belief. Honorable Ambassador of Pakistan in America, The case of Pakistan is worthy of a sympathetic and to understand the dynamics and to deal with the problem of religious intolerance and religious freedom. To our view religious intolerance can only be removed by changing the laws and government policies and states choose to remove institutions which promote religious intolerance and militancy. On this special occasion, Christian League of Pakistan in America PA would like to draw your attention to the issues of minorities in Pakistan. We present you the following memorandum; and would like to call upon the government of Pakistan for special consideration and action to be carried out; 1. To implement the recommendations given by UN Special Rapporteur on Religious Tolerance after his visit to Pakistan in 1996 and it should repeal all the discriminatory laws and policies including Blasphemy laws, Hudood Ordinance, Law of evidence etc. without any delay. 2. To take serious measures to ensure that minorities can participate in economic and public life without discrimination, including monitoring of recruitment practices. Laws should be passed and enforced to criminal hate speech in any form. 3. To sign and ratify the important UN treaties such as ICCPR, ICESCR, CAT and should make arrangements in the country for educating masses on their rights and responsibilities under these treaties. 4. To make sure that minorities have political freedom in Pakistan. - Although joint electorate system introduced in Pakistan is a bold step. But, how far minorities and the Christian leadership is getting chance to participate in the democratic electoral system. - Due to religious discrimination the Christians and other minorities can not get vote from the Muslim majority which definitely reduces the chances of minority leadership to come forward and serve the nation. - How far their representation affects and addresses the problems of minorities in their daily life. - How far the minorities get advantages in the economic and political fields. 5. We also urge Pakistani Embassy of USA to ensure the follow up of these points and give recommendations to the government of Pakistan.

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