There has been increasing weaponisation and politicisation of the blasphemy laws which deteriorates religious freedom in Pakistan, said a United Nations report. Commission on the Status of Women (CSW), a UN body, said that the Government of Pakistan under the leadership of Prime Minister Imran Khan came up with discriminatory legislation encouraging extremist mindsets to carry out attacks on religious minorities.
CSW, in a 47-page detailed report, raised concerns over formulating anti-Ahmadiyya legislation which became a tool for Islamist groups to persecute minorities and gain political ground. It also highlighted the plight of Christian and Hindu communities calling them “particularly vulnerable”.
"Each year hundreds are abducted and forced to convert and marry Muslim men. Victims have little or no hope of being returned to their families due to the serious threats and intimidation from abductors against the girls and their families,” read the report.
“This is compounded by the lack of police will to take action, weaknesses in the judicial process and discrimination from both police and judiciary towards religious minority victims," it added.
The report lambasted the government’s legislation on blasphemy saying the prolonged misuse of such laws damage social harmony and “heighten religious fervour”. Citing examples of blasphemy cases, the commission of the United Nations Economic and Social Council said that it has created an environment of mob violence which leads to fatal consequences. It also pointed to the threats and intimidation faced by human rights defenders by state and non-state actors.
"HRDs are subject to harassment, targeted attacks and enforced disappearance, with little protection provided by the government," it read.
According to the CSW, children of religious minorities admitted being subjected to “severe physical and psychological ill-treatment, including being segregated, bullied, teased, insulted and beaten on multiple occasions, by both teachers and classmates.” It also highlighted the cases of forced marriages and forced conversions of girls and women of minority groups who are generally under-educated and from lower-income backgrounds.