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Reports from Pakistan: Tracing the challenges facing religious minorities

Pakistan, October 2016
This website highlights violations faced by religious minorities in Pakistan, drawing on incident reports from local sources.

Groups such as Hindus, Christians, and Ahmadis, as well as sectarian minorities such as Shi’a, face multiple challenges including acute levels of discrimination and insecurity. This resource is part of a broader initiative focused on tracking and addressing various forms of violations.

Though predominantly Muslim, at around 95 per cent of the population, Pakistan nevertheless includes a wide variety of religious minorities, reflecting its long and complex history. Hindus (1.9 per cent) and Christians (1.6 per cent) make up the largest minorities, but there are also many smaller religious groups such as Bahá’i, Buddhists, Kalasha, Parsis, Sikhs and […]

3 min read

On paper, religious minorities in Pakistan enjoy many protections in both national and international law. From freedom of worship to the right to equality and non-discrimination, many principles are enshrined in the Constitution and other legislation – yet in practice continue to be denied to these communities. Furthermore, certain laws in Pakistan, such as its […]

13 min read

Pakistan’s Christians, accounting for 1.59 per cent of the population according to the last census conducted in 1998, are primarily located in Punjab province, including the neighbourhood of Youhanabad in Lahore, as well as Karachi and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province. The community has long been the target of violence and discrimination. However, in recent years sectarian violence […]

4 min read

Christians continue to be among the most marginalized communities in Pakistan, facing widespread poverty and often limited employment opportunities beyond underpaid or stigmatized work as sanitary workers. This reflects a long history of discrimination that, besides perpetuating their social exclusion, also leaves them vulnerable to violence and intimidation. This section outlines a selection of documented incidents against the community between August 2015 and October 2016 reported by local rapporteurs, ranging from everyday hostility to abuses such as kidnapping and targeted attacks, often following allegations of blasphemy.

‘Whenever we just think about the incident we are shocked and start trembling.’ Emmanuel* was one of many people spending Easter Sunday at the Gulshan-i-Iqbal park on 28 March 2016 when it was hit by a suicide blast, killing over 70 people and injuring more than 300. The park, located in south-western Lahore and one […]

6 min read

While Pakistan remains a diverse country, since the Partition of India in 1947, migration and a protracted process of social and religious homogenization has seen the Pakistani Hindu community dwindle. Partition saw large-scale movement of communities across newly defined borders between India and Pakistan, with Muslims in what became India fleeing primarily to Sindh and […]

4 min read

Everyday discrimination and the threat of violence have driven many Pakistani Hindus in recent years to leave their country for India, reproducing the legacy of Partition and undercutting the ideal of religious pluralism within Pakistan. Commonly travelling on 30-day pilgrim visas, many arrive in India by train, taking the Thar Express to the state of […]

10 min read

Hazara are an ethnic group predominantly based in Afghanistan, but also with a large population in Pakistan, with estimates of this group ranging from 650,000 to 900,000. The majority of Hazara in Pakistan, approximately 500,000, live in the city of Quetta, the provincial capital of Baluchistan. While some Hazara are Sunni, the majority identify as […]

2 min read

Pakistan currently has the largest Ahmadi population in the world: though their exact numbers are unknown, estimates suggest there are hundreds of thousands and even millions of community members in the country. Most were originally based in Qadian, India prior to independence, but after the 1947 Partition they migrated en masse to Pakistan. Here, they […]

2 min read

This section examines rights violations against Ahmadis through detailed accounts of selected recent incidents. These cases, gathered by local rapporteurs, provide a clearer sense of the dynamics involved in abuses against the community. While not exhaustive, they illustrate how social and institutional discrimination against Ahmadis converge, with local officials often complicit in enabling discriminatory practices. This is reflected not only in opportunistic attacks and land grabs against Ahmadis, but also in public denunciations by politicians and national conferences vilifying the community.