The United States Commission on International Religious Belief recently released its Pakistan Policy Update following in the steps of the recent 2020 Annual Report. The policy update recognizes firstly that Pakistan had made some meaningful steps throughout the past year, the upholding of the acquittal of Asia Bibi’s discriminatory blasphemy charges, the reopening of a temple in Punjab, and most notable of all, the establishment of the National Commission for Minorities. However, despite this meaningful progress, the continuation of the use of Sections 295 and 298 of the penal code to detain religious minorities on false charges of blasphemy, and the banning of Ahmadiyya religious textual material in Punjab exhibit Pakistan’s habitual persecution of religious minorities. USCIRF states:
“As part of its foreign policy recommendations for the U.S. government, USCIRF recommends that the United States and Pakistan enter into a binding agreement pursuant to Section 405(c) of the International Religious Freedom Act (IRFA)- USCIRF’s authorizing legislation- to encourage the Pakistani government to take meaningful steps to address religious freedom violations with defined benchmarks.
Measures of success of a potential agreement would include:
- “eliminate the requirements for self-identification of religion for identity documents”
- “remove the ban on Ahmadiyya religious texts and publications.”
- “begin an expedited review of all blasphemy cases.”
Click here to view USCIRF’s Pakistan Policy Update