Proof for those who say that Forced Conversions are not a thing in Pakistan.

This video is proof for those who say that ForcedConversions are not a thing in Pakistan.

A 14yr old minor Christian girl, Maria Shahbaz, who was escaped from her kidnappers, asking for the protection of herself and her family members.

Pakistan’s Layers of Persecution: The Constitution

The persecution of Christians in Pakistan is severe and complex. Daily, Pakistani Christians are treated as second-class citizens simply due to their religious identity. Christians also face many other forms of abuse, including false blasphemy accusations, physical assaults, attacks on places of worship, abductions, and forced conversions to Islam.

Due to this discrimination and abuse, Pakistan is recognized as one of the world’s worst persecutors of Christians. Open Doors USA ranked Pakistan the world’s fifth-worst persecutor of Christians in its 2020 World Watch List. The United States Commission on International Religious Freedom has also designated Pakistan a “Country of Particular Concern” in part due to the persecution faced by the country’s Christian community.

In a series of articles entitled “Pakistan’s Layers of Persecution,” International Christian Concern (ICC) will explore the many facets of Christian persecution in Pakistan. These articles will look into issues like Pakistan’s discriminatory laws, hate speech against Christians, the country’s biased education system, and Christian untouchability.

To start, ICC explored Pakistan’s founding and the country’s constitution, which exposes many contradictions that provide the foundation for Christians’ second-class status.

You are free. You are free to go to your temples. You are free to go to your mosques or to any other places of worship in this state of Pakistan. You may belong to any religion, caste, or creed. That has nothing to do with the business of the state.

These famous words, which speak of religious freedom, were spoken by Muhammad Ali Jinnah, widely considered the founder of Pakistan, in his first speech before the constitutional assembly on August 11, 1947; just three days before Pakistan was officially founded.

While the August 11 speech is still celebrated today, Jinnah’s words remain a mostly unfulfilled promise to Pakistan’s religious minorities. In fact, for many minorities, the fulfillment of this promise seems further and further away every year.

Like Jinnah’s August 11 speech, the Constitution of Pakistan promises religious freedom and equality before the law to all its citizens, regardless of religious identity.

According to Article 20 of the Constitution of Pakistan, “Every citizen shall have the right to profess, practice, and propagate his religion.” Article 25 states, “All citizens are equal before the law and are entitled to equal protection of the law.

However, like Jinnah’s August 11 speech, these promises have also gone unrealized for Pakistan’s religious minorities. In fact, these promises are contradicted in the constitution itself.

Article 2 of the Constitution of Pakistan states, “Islam shall be the state religion of Pakistan.” Establishing Islam as the religion of the state is the genesis of many constitutional provisions that ultimately relegate Christians to second-class status.

For example, Article 41(2) states that “A person shall not be qualified for election as President unless he is a Muslim.” This is reinforced by Article 91 (3), which says, “After the election of the Speaker and Deputy Speaker, the National Assembly shall, to the exclusion of any other business, proceed to elect without debate one of its Muslim members to be Prime Minister.

As these two articles make clear, religious minorities, including Christians, are barred from holding the highest political offices in Pakistan. This discriminatory ideology, unfortunately, has trickled down into much of Pakistan’s society. There is a widely held belief that Christians, as religious minorities, should not hold positions of leadership over Muslims in Pakistan.

International law defines discrimination as any act involving any distinction, exclusion, restriction, or preference between individuals or a group of people,” Peter Jacob, Executive Director of the Center for Social Justice, explained to ICC. “On this [definition], the Constitution of Pakistan maintains direct and explicit discrimination on the basis of religion on ten counts and carries implicit religious discrimination in another 12.

As a whole, the constitution falls short of the standards of a modern constitution,” Jacob continued. “It fails to provide a framework with unqualified resolve for the equality of all human beings and a democratic political order.

Also, the Constitution of Pakistan requires all secular laws to be brought into conformity with Islamic jurisprudence. Article 227(1) states, “All existing laws shall be brought in conformity with the injunctions of Islam as laid down in the Holy Qur’an and Sunnah and no law shall be enacted which is repugnant to such injunctions.

This conformity, again, has helped cement the second-class status of Christians. For example, the conformity requirement for secular laws is one reason why Pakistan’s courts continue to fail to protect Christian minors that have been abducted and forcefully married by Muslim men.

The Child Marriage Restraint Act, a secular law, criminalizes child marriages. However, relying on an interpretation of Islamic tradition which allows marriage to underage girls as long as they have had their first menstrual cycle, both the Sindh High Court and the High Court in Lahore have approved marriages where Christian minors have been abducted and forcefully married by Muslim men.

Interestingly, the Constitution of Pakistan includes a section that explicitly calls for the protection of religious minorities. However, the rights of religious minorities are called into questions within this constitutional provision itself.

Article 36 of the Constitution of Pakistan states, “The State shall safeguard the legitimate rights and interests of minorities.” According to Jacob, the qualifier “legitimate” is an issue.

This places the enforcement of the rights of minorities behind a precondition of legitimacy,” Jacob explained. “The term itself is not defined. This creates a vacuum of meeting and gives the impression that the rights of minorities can be dispensed with. The impact is no different than what appears to be the intention of the law, to relegate the status of religious minorities to that of second-class citizens.

For Pakistan’s Christians, the Constitution of Pakistan provides little protection and a system in which inequality is the status quo. However, the persecution of Pakistani Christians is not wholly explained just by the country’s constitution.

As stated at the beginning of this article, Christian persecution in Pakistan is complex and multi-faceted. Caste history, Pakistan’s education system, discriminatory laws, and many other issues all play their part in why Pakistan is one of the world’s worst persecutors of Christians today.

Pakistani Court Rules 14-year-old Christian Girl Must Stay Married To Her Abductor

On Tuesday, the Lahore High Court overseeing the Punjab province in Pakistan ruled Maira Shahbaz willingly converted to Islam and married Mohamad Nakash.

However, Shahbaz and her family claim she was kidnapped and forced to marry in April by Nakash along with two accomplices nearby her home in the city of Faisalabad – the 3rd most populous city in the country.

Nakash, who is already married, tried to defend himself by saying Shahbaz is 19 years old but was easily disproven when the girl and her family produced a birth certificate and school records proving she is actually 14 years old.

After providing said evidence to the local Faisalabad District and Sessions court, they ruled she be removed from Nakash’s home and placed in a women’s shelter pending further investigation.

On Tuesday however, Judge Raja Muhammad Shahid Abbasi at the Lahore High Court sparked outrage by overturning the local courts’ ruling, saying she had embraced Islam.

After the ruling, Maira and her mother Nighat were seen by witnesses to be visibly distraught and in tears, declining to make any comments to Aid to the Church in Need (ACN), the Catholic charity covering the case.

Pakistani Christian advocate and friend of the family Lala Robin Daniel said “with this ruling, no Christian girl in Pakistan is safe.”

Shahbaz’ lawyer, Khalil Tahir Sandhu, claimed 150 of Nakash’s ‘associates’ came to court on the day of ruling.

“It is unbelievable. What we have seen today is an Islamic judgement. The arguments we put forwards were very strong and coherent.”

In court, Sandhu says he had 11 points proving Maira’s case, the cornerstone of which is a birth certificate proving she was only 13 last October – the date of the alleged ‘marriage.’ He also argued the ‘marriage certificate’ was faked, giving evidence that denounced the credibility of the Muslim ‘cleric’ who signed it. Furthermore, he cited Pakistani law which says Maira cannot convert to Islam without her mother’s permission.

Sandhu added that “I became so upset as the proceedings went on, I feared I might be asked to leave the court room.” He said would appeal the decision, first at the Lahore High Court and if that fails at the Supreme Court of Pakistan.

If the appeal fails, Maira would be forced to remain ‘married’ to Nakash and given back to her abductor.

Minorities in pakistan are targeted daily

Simran’s brother says that the police are not reporting their case. He further said that Pakistan is persecuting us, please help us to get our daughter back. Minorities in this country are targeted daily and International communities remain silent over these issues. Why?

Pakistan demolishes Hanuman temple, Hindu homes in Karachi

Pakistan demolished an old Hanuman temple in Lyari, Karachi. Also demolished were the homes of about 20 Hindu families that lived near the temple.

Around the same time that Turkey was converting the historic Chora church of Istanbul into a mosque, Pakistan demolished an old Hanuman temple in Lyari, Karachi. Also demolished were the homes of about 20 Hindu families that lived near the temple.

After Hindus from the locality gathered around the rubble of the ancient temple and protested, police made investigations and sealed the area. Pakistani newspaper, The Express Tribune reported that Lyari’s Assistant Commissioner Abdul Karim Memon has ordered a probe against the builder who has demolished the temple.

Locals said that a builder had allegedly purchased the land around the temple and wanted to build a residential complex. Though he had promised the Hindus that the temple would not be touched, he demolished the temple and Hindu homes amid a coronavirus induced lockdown.

Mohammad Irshad Baloch, a local, told The Express Tribune: “It is an injustice as a place of worship has been destroyed. It was an old temple. We have been seeing it since we were children.

Another resident, Harsh said: “No one was allowed to visit the temple during the lockdown. He (the builder) exploited the situation (of the pandemic) and demolished our place of worship while we could not visit it”, and demanded that the temple be restored. He added that the families living around it were even assured of alternative housing.

Mohan Lal, a Hindu activist, accused the builder of threatening members of the minority community who had assembled at the site and highlighted the temple’s demolition. “We tried to enter the temple but were denied entry by the builder,” he narrated.

Interestingly, the South Deputy Commissioner Irshad Ahmed Sodhar told The Express Tribune that there had been two temples earlier, but one had been removed earlier. Promising justice, Sodhar said: “A committee will be formed for the purpose, including an archaeologist, and the probe will be completed within seven days. We will ensure that everyone will get justice.”

Brick by brick, Pakistan has been getting rid of its Hindu heritage. Its Hindu minority – a handful in number, lies battered in a few pockets under the fear of conversions and kidnappings of women. With every passing year, the numbers have been dwindling.

Since the partition of India in 1947, Pakistan has made vigorous efforts to shake off thousands of years of rich Hindu, Jain and Buddhist history that dominated the region before Islam took roots as Haroon Khalid writes in this baleful feature, “How archaeology in Pakistan is forced to deny the nation’s Hindu past”. Even hard evidence in the form of archaeology is made evasive and forced to twist in deference to Islam.

The governments have been reluctant to accept the nation’s non-Islamic heritage which keeps propping up every now and then. Just last year during excavations, which had been stopped for a considerable number of years, Hindu statues and artifacts were discovered near the 1,500-year-old Panchmukhi Hanuman Mandir in Karachi.

The search for a Muslim identity or an Islamic civilization in the land of the pure is akin to the quest for the holy grail. Unfortunately, the past – whether in the culture, the language or history always takes a u-turn and brings back the seekers to its ancient roots – of a Hindu civilization that stood long and well-entrenched with the built heritage of temples going back 1,500 years.

The frustration has developed into resistance towards acceptance and the cherishing of a minority culture and its symbols. This hate has spread across the land. It is not confined to a handful of regions or people. The poison against minorities, particularly Hindus, has seeped deep into the society. Since separation from India, hundreds of Pakistan temples have quietly disappeared and many have morphed into shops, mosques and other buildings. The efforts to erase the past have been vociferous.

Demolition and conversion of minority places of worship are not new in Pakistan. Almost every month there is a new controversy – a temple razed to the ground or converted into a mosque. Rewind to June when Prime Minister Imran Khan wanted to prove his secular credentials and allotted money to build a Krishna temple in Islamabad, but the boundary wall of the temple was demolished within days.

However, on the other side, there have been some noteworthy examples, where Pakistanis have taken the efforts to document their heritage. A few years back, Karachi-based journalist and author Reema Abbasi, painstakingly brought out a well-researched book, “Historic Temples in Pakistan: A Call to Conscience”, with amazing photographs of Pakistani temples.

Once in a rare while, even the government has taken steps to give the temples, and also the minorities, the recognition they deserve. There was much celebration and cheer when the Imran Khan government opened up a historic Hindu temple in Sialkot for worship after 72 years. However, such examples are few and far between for a country where the number of temples has come down from well over 400 to a dozen in barely 70 years.

For the moment, Pakistan seems to be basking in the reflected glory of a new-found and diabolical friend Turkey. Both have made converting minority religions places into mosques a pastime. Turkey has converted two historical churches into mosques while the Pakistanis have demolished two temples during the same time.

Nevertheless, the 73-odd-year old Pakistan might it difficult to shake off a 5,000-year-old history that lies prolifically scattered across the length and breadth of the country.