How The Pakistani State Has Discriminated Against Minorities For Decades


Pakistan flag


Snapshot

  • God help you if you are a non-Muslim in a country like Pakistan.

  • In the land, driven by religious obsession, higher values such as democracy, debate, compassion, and respect for diversity, seem pie in the sky — all thanks to a punishing, patriarchal theocracy.

Discrimination against minorities in the Islamic Republic of Pakistan is not new. Abduction of Hindu and Sikh girls and their forcible conversion in Pakistan makes headlines in India nearly every month.


However, what doesn’t make regular headlines in India is how the Islamic Republic's Constitution plays an important part in the discrimination against minorities.


The Constitution of Pakistan declares that Islam is the state religion and gives the minorities the right to follow their religion.


But, as the Preamble of Pakistan’s Constitution says, the state will observe the “principles of democracy, freedom, equality, tolerance and social justice, as enunciated by Islam”.


Here’s how the minorities are discriminated against:

One, the Pew Research Center says that Pakistan is among the 30 countries of the world where the head of state and government should be from a specific religion — in this case, Islam.


According to Article 41 of the original Constitution of Pakistan, which was adopted in 1956, one has to be a Muslim to become the President of the country.


In the Constitution which the country adopted in 1973, the same requirement was made for the post of Prime Minister.


Two, in any liberal democracy, the right to vote is the basic tool to empower citizens. In a way, the right to vote helps citizens to raise their voice on issues they face in daily life and express their opinion. At the same time, those citizens who don’t have this right can easily be avoided by political parties or the state itself because they are not ‘vote-banks’.


Pakistan’s former dictator, General Zia-ul-Haq, had introduced this system in the 1980s.


It was opposed by Hindu groups and they started a resistance movement against such an electoral system. Sudham Chand, who led the campaign to