A Christian human rights group in Pakistan has called for an exclusive region for religious minorities whose numbers have been on a steady decline in the Muslim majority nation - writes Anto Akkara.
"We demand setting up of an exclusive province for (religious) minorities if the government cannot take drastic action to uphold our fundamental rights," said Joseph Francis, founding director of the Centre for Legal Aid Assistance-Settlement (CLAAS).
Francis made this remark to ENInews 4 July while briefing the seven-point demand the Christian group presented to the Pakistan government after a news conference on 29 June in Lahore amid reports of worsening ratio of religious minorities due to harassment rooted in discriminatory laws.
Since the formation of Pakistan in 1947, the percentage of minorities has shrunk to about four per cent from 40 per cent, according to widely-reported statistics.
"Non-Muslim citizens of Pakistan are considered disloyal and troublesome. The passage (enactment) of discriminatory of laws in the name of religion has increased hatred against non-Muslim citizens," said CLAAS.
The group has demanded abolition of constitutional provisions declaring Islam as the state religion. Laws also say that only a Muslim can head the government and the law forbidding blasphemy against Islam is often misused to harass religious minorities.
More than 95 per cent of Pakistan's 180 million people are Muslim with Hindus and Christians being the larger minorities comprising two per cent each of the population with tribal members, Sikhs and Zoroastrians accounting for the remaining population.
CLAAS provides legal assistance to those charged under the blasphemy law. It also said that attacks on religious minorities and places of worship are seldom acted upon by the police.
[With acknowledgements to ENInews. ENInews, formerly Ecumenical News International, is jointly sponsored by the World Council of Churches, the Lutheran World Federation, the World Communion of Reformed Churches and the Conference of European Churches.]