Landmark judgment on Pakistani religious minorities yet to be honoured by the state

By Asif Aqeel and World Watch Monitor staff | World Watch Monitor

When a bomber killed 127 people at a Pakistan church, the country’s Supreme Court issued a list of instructions to the government to protect religious minorities. Four years later, the government has yet to follow most of them.

As with the religious freedom guaranteed in Pakistan’s constitution, the government’s lacklustre response to the court’s instructions reveals the gap between the ideals contained in official documents and the disillusioning reality for Christians and other minorities in the overwhelmingly Muslim country.

“Our constitution, laws and public policy by and large conform to international standards, but the problem is with many countervailing factors that take over the system,” said Sarwar Bari, national director of the rights group Pattan, based in Pakistan’s capital Islamabad. “So the judgment alone is not enough. There must be mechanisms developed to overcome those countervailing factors.”