Despite Being Protected By The Constitution, Why Are Minorities Mistreated In Pakistan?

Despite Being Protected By The Constitution, Why Are Minorities Mistreated In Pakistan?
Soon after the creation of Pakistan, Muhammad Ali Jinnah the founder of Pakistan stated in his statement that there will be no restriction on the people who belong to different religions, castes, ethnicity and the religious minorities including Hindus, Christians, Sikhs can perform their religious practices freely.

The Constitution of Pakistan safeguards the rights of religious minorities as reflected by the Father of the nation Quaid e Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah in various speeches. Different articles of the Constitution of Pakistan highlight the rights of minorities. There must be no discrimination against any citizen on grounds of religion, gender, caste, race or place of residence in accordance with Article 26 of the Constitution.

Article 36 of the Constitution provides protection to minorities, as well as their right to a proper representation within provincial and federal authorities, according to which the state will protect legitimate rights and interests of minorities.

Since its founding, Pakistan has emerged with a popular ideology of equal rights for its citizens. Muslims, a minority in a united India, found motivation to shape Pakistani ideology as an inclusive ideology, regardless of religion, caste or creed.

In contrast, Pakistan's flank development has shrouded ethnic minority enclaves in fog. Pakistan's founding fathers' emphasis on special consideration for minorities has become a myth, and the Quaid’s unwavering call for religious, social and economic freedom for minorities has disappeared.

In the 1970s, a number of factors caused an increase in violent attacks against minority groups in Pakistan: the struggle for power among Pakistan's political parties resulted in further institutionalising religious divisions in society; the Islamist governments that came to power codified discrimination against minorities into law; and the militarisation of the area, with a proliferation of arms and trained fighters turning to violence to settle conflicts. Sectarian attacks  which mostly targeted the Shia and Ahmadi groups, increased in frequency by the 1980s.

Among the attacks against Shias, those against the Hazaras in Balochistan (a Shia ethnic minority) are significant; they started in the 1980s under General Zia ul Haq's rule and are still going on today.

Violence against the Ahmadi community in Pakistan is also on the rise. The Ahmadi community has been the victim of an economic and social apartheid and sporadic killings for several decades, but the atrocities against Ahmadis have intensified since the 2000s when unidentified persons opened fire at an Ahmadi place of worship in a village near Sialkot. On May 28 2010, the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan carried out one of the worst attacks against Ahmadis, launching a coordinated assault on two Ahmadi places of worship that resulted in the deaths of over 80 individuals.

In fact, the Constitution of Pakistan contains various measures with a focus on minorities. Practical results matter more than just written acknowledgment, and here is where society and the government have fallen short in producing positive results. For instance, the inviolability of the dignity is emphasized heavily in Article 14 of the Pakistani Constitution. Minorities, especially Christians, have, on the other hand, been singled out and assigned demeaning occupations like sanitation. Furthermore, Article 10 of the constitution mandates a free and fair trial for every person, but minority have not been able to benefit from this clause due to the unchecked power of religious majority.

A quota system was introduced during General Zia Ul Haq's rule, reserving 5% of public sector jobs for minorities and allocating the other 95% of positions based on open merit, which included minority candidates. This was done in an effort to combat employment discrimination in the sector.

In reality, though, this approach accomplishes nothing to advance affirmative action and instead serves to reinforce negative perceptions and societal prejudice against minorities. This is due to the fact that many institutions meet their 5% requirement by only hiring minorities for unpleasant jobs like sanitation employees. There have even been allegations of similar job advertising in some sectors stating that Muslims are not required to apply.

Pakistan as an Islamic state should pay serious attention to the rights of other religious minorities. Regardless of views, creed, or religion, Islam has upheld the fundamental rights to life and honour of every person. Islam holds that "He who takes away a person's life without justification is considered to have killed humanity in general." Islam guaranteed the fundamental rights of non-Muslims on an equal footing with Muslims. No Muslim may endanger the lives, possessions, or places of worship of non-Muslims. The religious minorities should not be tortured in any way.

In addition to the religious minority who were first the target of the violence, Pakistan's liberal and secular voices are now in danger, as are those who stand up for them, most notably the independent media, which is increasingly the target of threats and attacks.

Tolerance is a core principle of democracy and emphasizes on the harmony between different religious groups stating that society should give consideration to opinions of citizens of different beliefs. It further states that every citizens should have right to practice their religious practices freely without any discrimination. Thus serious reforms should be introduced to eliminate the discrimination against religious minorities in all sectors of life including education, employment, etc. The laws and rules for the rights of minorities should be implemented properly because the practical steps are the need of hour in this regard.