Washington: Expressing concern over the deteriorating religious freedom in Pakistan, including attacks on minorities like Hindus and Christians, an independent, bipartisan US government commission has told lawmakers that Pakistan represents the worst situation in the world for religious freedom.
In her testimony before the Committee on House Oversight and Government Reform Subcommittee on National Security, Chair of the US Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), Lantos Swett said the previous and current governments in Pakistan failed both to provide adequate protection to the victims and to arrest the perpetrators.
"From July 2013 to June 2014, USCIRF recorded 122 incidents of sectarian violence which resulted in more than 1,200 casualties, including 430 deaths. The previous and current governments failed to provide adequate protection or to arrest perpetrators," she said.
"Pakistan represents the worst situation in the world for religious freedom with religious freedom conditions reaching an all-time low due to chronic sectarian violence targeting mostly Shi'a Muslims but also Christians, Ahmadis and Hindus," she said.
She said Pakistan's repressive blasphemy laws and anti-Ahmadi laws were widely used to violate religious freedoms and foster a climate of impunity.
"Pakistan's repressive blasphemy laws and anti-Ahmadi laws are used widely to violate religious freedoms and foster a climate of impunity," she said.
USCIRF has recommended that Pakistan be named a CPC (Countries of Particular Concern) since 2002, however, the US Government has not done so, she said.
In its recent report Violence Towards Religious Communities in Pakistan, USCIRF presented statistics demonstrating that religious-based violence continued to persist, with little to no effective response from the Pakistani government at federal, provincial or local levels.
Swett said chronic sectarian violence targeting not only Shi'a Muslims but also Christians, Ahmadis, and Hindus continued with impunity.
"Religious-based violence continues to persist, with little to no effective Pakistani government response at federal, provincial, or local levels," she said.