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Religious minorities under fire in Pakistan

Church decries rising incidents of violence and discrimination targeting non-Muslims

UCA News staff, Islamabad

UCA News staff, Islamabad

Published: July 08, 2020 10:10 AM GMT

Updated: July 08, 2020 10:17 AM GMT

Religious minorities under fire in Pakistan

Children walk with a cow for the upcoming Muslims sacrificial festival Eid ul Adha in Rawalpindi on July 7. (Photo: AFP)

The human rights arm of the Catholic Church has deplored the rising incidents of violence and discrimination targeting religious minorities in Pakistan, adding that “living as a religious minority is becoming harder” in the Muslim-majority South Asian country.

“It is unfortunate that despite the current Covid-19 pandemic, which is posing its share of challenges in Pakistan, religious intolerance and discrimination sadly in the past few months are on the rise,” the National Commission for Justice and Peace (NCJP) said in a statement on June 7.

Nadeem Joseph, a Christian from Peshawar’s TV colony, died as a result of gunshot wounds he received on June 4. He and his mother-in-law Elizabeth Masih were brutally attacked by a Muslim man, Salman Khan, and his sons a few days after Joseph bought a house in TV Colony.

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In a joint statement, NCJP chairman Archbishop Joseph Arshad, national director Father Emmanuel Yousaf (Mani) and executive director Cecil Chaudhry wrote:  “Unfortunately Pakistani society has become increasing intolerant and living as a religious minority is becoming harder.

“This is not just one-off incident. There are many such incidents that do not get reported. Religious minorities continue to face discrimination as part of their daily life, whether being denied food/relief packages during the ongoing pandemic or lack of personal protection for sanitary and frontline minority workers”.

The NCJP demanded law enforcement agencies to do everything possible to capture the main culprit who brutally murdered Joseph and bring him to justice.

"Everyone has the right to buy property in Pakistan. This incident is a clear violation of human rights; it is an act against the law and cannot go unpunished”.

Archbishop Arshad prayed for the departed soul of Nadeem Joseph and for the comfort and safety of his family.

"Nadeem’s family are in pain and their lives are in danger after this attack. They fear the attackers may also harm other family members, thus the government must ensure their safety and security,” the archbishop said.

"It should be noted with concern that similar episodes of attacks on the most vulnerable communities are on the rise. The current government must take them seriously and provide protection to all religious minorities."

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