LAHORE: Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) on Wednesday said that the Islamabad High Court’s (IHC) recent ruling requiring a declaration of faith was a cause for serious concern.
“The HRCP is appalled by the recent IHC ruling that makes a declaration of faith mandatory for government and semi-government job applicants, as well as for the armed forces, judiciary and the civil services,” said the commission and added that the ruling had serious repercussions for all religious minorities.
“Requiring a faith declaration for computerised national identity cards, passports, birth certificates and entry into the voters’ lists will further choke the capacity of the minorities to exercise their fundamental rights. These requirements will only enable and deepen institutional discrimination against minority communities,” said the HRCP.
HRCP, which has long documented institutionalised discrimination by the state as well as the violent attacks by extremists against religious minorities, observed that it was the state’s responsibility to protect all citizens regardless of their ethnic, religious and regional identities.
The commission said that the court’s ruling could lead to an increase in instances of aggression and violence against the Ahmadiyya community in particular. “The consequences of this ruling could be deadly for members of the Ahmadiyya community, given their already precarious personal safety situation in the country,” the HRCP added.
“Forums for justice such as the honourable IHC should play their due role in safeguarding the fundamental rights of the most vulnerable sections of the society. It is therefore unfortunate that Pakistan’s religious minorities feel more unsafe since after the ruling by the honourable court,” said the commission.
The HRCP also called on the federal government to seek the reversal of the IHC ruling through an appeal at the earliest.