Pakistani Requires All People to List Religion on Official Documents

Islamabad High Court’s latest ruling poses a threat to the country’s minorities

On Friday, Islamabad High Court made an important ruling, which made it mandatory for all people living in Pakistan to declare the religion they follow on all their official documents. However, Pakistan’s rights activists are against the high court’s decision, as it can lead to discrimination of minorities, especially those who follow the Ahmadi faith, throughout the country.

Humans Rights groups unhappy with the court ruling

The court ruling also makes it mandatory for all the citizens who join the judiciary, armed forces, or civil service to take a religion-based oath. According to the High Court, those who hide their religious affiliations are equivalent to those who betray the state. Due to this reason, it was important for people who want government jobs to proclaim their faith.

Human Rights Commission of Pakistan’s board member, Zohra Yusuf, said that the ruling made by the high court as “very dangerous.” According to her, the group will release an official statement within the next few days.

She added, “Religion is someone’s personal affair, not a matter of public display.” She also said that the high court’s decision goes to show that the government doesn’t believe people belonging to minority groups to be patriotic.

The ruling will impact the Ahmadis severely, as they already face discrimination in Pakistan for their faith. In 1974, the Pakistani government gave the tag “non-Muslims” to the Ahmadis.

Ahmadis face discrimination

As per the court rulings, people who wish to join government jobs will need to testify the God’s last messenger was Prophet Muhammad. However, this goes against the core beliefs of the Ahmadi faith.
Although it applies to the Ahmadis, it doesn’t apply to the Hindus and Christians.

Tehreek-e-Labaik Pakistan, the religious party of the country, also called the followers of the Ahmadi faith blasphemers.

Saroop Ijaz, the representative of Humans Right Watch, said, “A judgment like this would enable and incite violence.”

Ahmadi community’s spokesperson, Saleem Uddin, wished that the government gave the minorities an opportunity to present their point of view before the high court made the verdict. He said that Ahmadis and their places of worship were targeted by religious extremists, over the past few years. According to him, the community is getting in touch with legal experts, so that they can challenge the high court’s ruling.

Rights activist, Zia Awan, believes that the high court’s decision will encourage the extremists to continue discriminating the minorities.

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