The Centre for Social Justice (CSJ) published its annual report, “Human Rights Observer 2023,” which highlights an increase in religious content against minorities in Pakistan’s textbooks and curriculum in 2022. The report covers five key issues that affect religious minorities in Pakistan: discrimination in the education system, prevalence of forced faith conversions, abuse of blasphemy laws, establishment of the National Commission for Minorities, and jail remissions for minority prisoners.
According to the report, at least 2,120 individuals have been accused of committing blasphemy between 1987 and 2022. The report states that in the past 36 years, the abuse of blasphemy laws in Punjab has increased above 75%, with 52% of the accused belonging to minorities, despite their small ratio (3.52%) in the population of Pakistan.
Moreover, the fact sheet highlights 124 reported incidents of forced faith conversions involving girls/women from minority communities, including 81 Hindus, 42 Christians, and one Sikh. The report indicates that only 12% of the victims were adults, and the age of 28% of the victims was not reported.
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The fact sheet also mentions that no progress was made in providing remission to minority prisoners in 2022, despite this concession being available to Muslim prisoners since 1978. The establishment of the National Commission for Minorities (NCM) also remained pending, with a weak and lopsided draft presented to parliament in March 2023, which may cause further delays.
The editor of the Human Rights Observer and Executive Director at CSJ, Peter Jacob, recommended addressing the issues highlighted in the report and taking practical steps towards the realization and protection of minority rights.