Pakistan failed to protect religious freedom: US
The US on Wednesday ashed out at the Pakistan government for its failure to prosecute those responsible for religious freedom abuses, saying such environment encourages intolerance and acts of violence.
Washington: The US on Wednesday ashed out at the Pakistan government for its failure to prosecute those responsible for religious freedom abuses, saying such environment encourages intolerance and acts of violence.
"In Pakistan, the government's general failure to investigate, arrest or prosecute those responsible for religious freedom abuses promoted an environment of impunity. This environment fostered further intolerance and acts of violence," the State Department said in its annual report on International Religious Freedom report for the year 2014.
"Government policies also failed to protect members of majority and minority religious groups," said the report released by Secretary of State John Kerry.
"In addition, the persistent use of discriminatory legislation, such as blasphemy laws, including the government?s failure to address false accusations of blasphemy and laws designed to delegitimize the Ahmadiyya Muslim community, meant that minorities were often afraid to profess freely their religious beliefs," the report said.
The Supreme Court announced a detailed judgment regarding minorities' rights on June 20, in accordance with which the government created a National Commission for Minorities with representatives of various faith groups, it noted.
However, other recommendations from the judgment have yet to be implemented, such as establishment of a police task force to protect minorities, revision of school curricula to promote religious and social tolerance, and steps to discourage hate speech in social media, the report said.
It said discrimination against Christians, Hindus, Sikhs, and Ahmadis in admission to higher education institutions persisted. Minority leaders reported their communities faced restrictions in securing admissions into colleges and universities.
Sikh leaders said that in some instances, Sikh students were required to obtain a certificate of permission from the Evacuee Trust Property Board which was a lengthy process that discouraged them from pursuing higher education, it said.
According to reports from the Jinnah Institute and other organizations, public school curricula included derogatory statements in textbooks about minority religious groups, particularly Ahmadis, Hindus, Jews, and Christians and the teaching of religious intolerance was widespread, it noted.
According to a 2013 report by the human rights NGO National Commission for Justice and Peace, hate material in school curricula was the main reason for discrimination towards minority groups.
Examining textbooks for the 2012-13 academic years in Punjab and Sindh for grades 1 to10, the report found the curricula included discriminatory and inflammatory material against Hindus, Christians, and other religious minorities.