Pakistani religious minorities criticize recent government initiative

July 15, 2011

BANGALORE, India

Christians and other minority leaders in Pakistan have spoken out against the government’s move to relegate issues regarding religious minorities to provincial governments in the Muslim-majority nation, instead of dealing with them on a national level.

“This is obviously a major setback to Christians and other religious minorities,” said the Rev Maqsood Kamil, spokesperson for the Presbyterian Church of Pakistan (PCP), a partner church of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.).

Kamil was reacting to the government’s decision on June 28 to place seven federal ministries, including the Ministry for Religious Minorities, under the control of provincial governments. The move is in accordance with the 18th Amendment to Pakistan’s constitution, passed in April.

Pakistan is divided into five provinces with elected provincial governments enjoying limited autonomy.

“Now the concerns of the minorities will be dealt at the provincial level only. It is sad that we will lose our voice at the national level,” said Kamil.

“The presence of Christians at the federal level is crucial, as they face continual injustice, prejudice, and discrimination inscribed in legislation,” said Julius Salik of the World Minorities Alliance in statement decrying the move.

A Christian member of the Pakistani National Assembly, Salik pointed out that concerns of religious minorities “are national issues that bear no relation to provincial autonomy.”

Besides Christians, minority groups such as Hindis and Ahmadis have also criticized the decision, pointing out that it would deny a voice to the already marginalized minorities in Pakistan, where nearly 95 percent of the country's 180 million people are Muslim.

“This is extremely harmful to minorities which are already suffering,” said Arjun Daas, chairman of the Pakistan Meghwar Council, according to a release from the Union of Catholic Asian News.

Pakistan’s Ministry for Religious Minorities was created in 2008 by the newly elected federal government, led by the Pakistan People’s Party. It was entrusted to outspoken Catholic Shabhaz Bhatti, who was assassinated on March 2 for protesting against the blasphemy law.

  1. I have been working in a struggling condition in print media but no one recognize i have been serving and print articles on political issues regarding minorities and religious issues but these leader give me just encouragement .what can i say in this regard. Thanks for commenting even PCP not a a space for pastors to show their comments on their web site

    by shiraz shahzad

    October 5, 2011

  2. there is no doubt about that the situation of minorities in very critical in Pakistan and religious elite just arranging peace talks when horrible incident happened to Pakistani Christians.so they are real hypocrite.they are doing business on the killing of Pakistani not only religious Pakistani elite but also Pakistani political elite as well.there is no hope for these so called leaders who are just working for their own self.especially biggest denomination Presbyterian church of Pakistan kept silent in these issues .what a pity

    by shiraz

    August 16, 2011

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