By Vexen Crabtree 2019
Islamic Republic of Pakistan
[Country Profile Page]
|Land Area||770 880km21|
|Life Expectancy||66.37yrs (2017)3|
|GNI||$5 031 (2017)4|
|ISO3166-1 Codes||PK, PAK, 5865|
Pakistan is amongst the worst places in the world at ensuring human rights and freedom, and it has severe cultural issues when it comes to tolerance and equality. Pakistan does worse than average in fighting corruption9, opposing gender inequality10, supporting press freedom11 and in LGBT equality12. And finally, it falls into the bottom 20 in commentary from Human Rights Watch13, supporting personal, civil & economic freedoms14, its Global Peace Index rating15, eliminating modern slavery16 and in its nominal commitment to Human Rights17. Women, religious minorities and LGBT folk face terrible persecution and violent attacks and government persecution "with authorities failing to provide adequate protection or hold perpetrators accountable"18. Security forces are unaccountable for their own human rights violations18. Decades of increasingly strict and conservative Islam has resulted in a situation of violent intolerance towards any other religion or belief19,20. Pakistan has no freedom of religion nor freedom of belief. The law is used to prevent any criticism of Muhammad, including literary and historical criticism21.
“[We are] deeply concerned at repeated reports of abduction, killings and intimidation of human rights defenders, particularly those fighting for economic, social and cultural rights, allegedly committed in some cases by State agents, including members of military intelligence services.”
|Pos.||Higher is better|
|Global Peace Index (2012)15|
|Pos.||Lower is better15|
|150||Central African Rep.||2.87|
|Human Rights Watch Comments (2017)13|
|Pos.||Higher is better|
|Nominal Commitment to HR (2009)17|
|Pos.||Higher is better|
|Personal, Civil & Economic Freedom (2014)14|
|Pos.||Lower is better|
|Press Freedom (2013)11|
|Pos.||Lower is better11|
“The government muzzled dissenting voices in nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) and media on the pretext of national security. Militants and interest groups also threatened freedom of expression. [...] Journalists increasingly practiced self-censorship after numerous attacks by security forces and militant groups in retaliation for critical articles. Media outlets remained under pressure to avoid reporting on or criticizing human rights violations during counterterrorism operations. The Taliban and other armed groups threatened media outlets and attacked journalists and activists because of their work.”
|Pos.||Lower is better|
|164||Central African Rep.||2.23|
The taking of slaves has been an unwholesome feature of Human cultures since prehistory22. Private households and national endeavours have frequently been augmented with the use of slaves. The Egyptian and Roman empires both thrived on them for both purposes. Aside from labourers they are often abused sexually by their owners and their owners' friends23. The era of colonialism and the beginnings of globalisation changed nothing: the imprisonment and forced movements of labour continued to destroy many lives except that new justifications were invented based on Christian doctrine and the effort to convert non-Christians. By 1786 over 12 million slaves had been extracted from Africa and sent to colonial labour camps, with a truly atrocious condition of life24. But they were not the only ones to blame; in Africa internal nations such as the Asantes sold and bought tens of thousands of slaves25.
The abolition of the slave trade was a long and slow process. Until a relatively modern time, even philosophers, religious leaders and those concerned with ethics justified, or ignored, the problem of slavery26. The first abolitionists were always the slaves themselves. Their protests and rebellions caused the industry to become too expensive to continue. After that, it was the economic costs of maintain slave colonies that led the British to reject and then oppose the slave trade globally. Finally, the enlightenment-era thinkers of France encouraged moral and ethical thinking including the declaration of the inherent value of human life and human dignity27. A long-overdue wave of compassionate and conscientious movements swept across the West, eliminating public support for slavery, until the industries and churches that supported it had no choice but to back down.
'Modern slavery' includes forced labour (often of the under-age), debt bondage (especially generational), sexual slavery, chattel slavery and other forms of abuse, some of which can be surprisingly difficult to detect, but often target those fleeing from warzones and the vulnerable.28. Some industries (diamond, clothing, coal) from some countries (Burundi16, Eritrea16, Indonesia29) are a particular concern. The Walk Free Foundation, say that in 2016, 40.3 million people were living in modern slavery30.
|Gender Inequality (2015)10|
|Pos.||Lower is better10|
Gender inequality is not a necessary part of early human development. Although a separation of roles is almost universal due to different strengths between the genders, this does not have to mean that women are subdued, and, such patriarchialism is not universal in ancient history. Those cultures and peoples who shed, or never developed, the idea that mankind ought to dominate womankind, are better cultures and peoples than those who, even today, cling violently to those mores.
|Year Women Can Vote31|
|Pos.||Lower is better|
|67||Trinidad & Tobago||1946|
Pakistan is an unequal country, with male rights dominating those of women.
Women continue to face violent attacks "with authorities failing to provide adequate protection or hold perpetrators accountable"18.
“According to the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, at least 675 women and girls were murdered in the first nine months of 2011, mostly for having illicit relations. Some were raped or gang-raped before being killed. Of course this is illegal, but the state is too weak and too unwilling to enforce the law consistently. Very few of the culprits will be brought to justice.”
“Violence against women and girls–including rape, “honor” killings, acid attacks, domestic violence, and forced marriage–remained a serious problem. Pakistani activists estimate that there are about a 1,000 “honor” killings every year.”
|LGBT Equality (2017)12|
|Pos.||Higher is better|
|169||St Kitts & Nevis||-25|
Discrimination against Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) folk is rife across the world. Legal restrictions co-exist alongside social stigmatisation and physical violence33. LGBT tolerance and equal rights have been fought for country-by-country across the world, often against tightly entrenched cultural and religious opposition. Adult consensual sexual activity is a Human Right, protected by privacy laws34. Despite this, homosexual activity is outlawed in around 80 countries33. The Social & Moral LGBT Equality Index was created to compare countries and regions, granting points to each country for a variety of factors including how long gay sex has been criminalized and the extent of LGBT legal rights. Graded negative points are given for criminality of homosexuality, unequal ages of consent, legal punishments and for not signing international accords on LGBT tolerance. The signs in many developed countries are positive, and things are gradually improving. Europe is by far the least prejudiced region (Scandinavia in particular being exemplary). The Middle East and then Africa are the least morally developed, where cultural bias goes hand-in-hand with state intolerance, all too often including physical violence.
LGBT folk continue to face violent attacks and government-led oppression "with authorities failing to provide adequate protection or hold perpetrators accountable"18. Homosexuality is illegal18. "The inclusion of the transgender population in the 2017 census and the first-ever proposed transgender law were positive developments"18.
|Social & Moral|
|Pos.||Higher is better|
|179||Papua New Guinea||39.9|
The Social and Moral Development Index concentrates on moral issues and human rights, violence, public health, equality, tolerance, freedom and effectiveness in climate change mitigation and environmentalism, and on some technological issues. A country scores higher for achieving well in those areas, and for sustaining that achievement in the long term. Those countries towards the top of this index can truly said to be setting good examples and leading humankind onwards into a bright, humane, and free future. See: What is the Best Country in the World? An Index of Morality, Conscience and Good Life.
Decades of increasingly strict and conservative Islam has resulted in a situation of violent intolerance of anything else19 with the worst possible scale of religious persecution20. Pakistan now has no freedom of religion or belief. The law is used to prevent any criticism of Muhammad, including literary and historical criticism21, with deadly consequences for those who do so or who are accused of blasphemy.
The worrying and continued increase in religious violence in Pakistan is harming the entire county and destabilizing the government. The Economist36 in 2011 reports that "with the rise in religious observance society has become less tolerant" and bemourns that Pakistan "has become a very violent place. Over 30,000 Pakistanis have lost their lives in terrorist-related violence in the past four years. Even in the comparative lull in suicide-bombings in late 2011, the newspapers carried a litany of horror stories: terrorist attacks; honour killings; ethnic violence in Karachi; assassinations" and states that large numbers of migrant workers who come through Saudi Arabia are responsible for spreading overly strict Islam19.
Human Rights Watch reports that although attacks did decrease in 2017, they still continued against religious minorities18.
When it comes to religious freedom and persecution, sociologists Grim & Finke place Pakistan into the worst category, along with just 13 other countries. In this category, severe restrictions on religious freedom and freedom of belief stem simultaneously from top-down pressure from government and institutionalized religion, and from bottom-up grassroots movements that often go even further than the government in harassing those who do not believe the right things (2011)20.
“At least 19 people remained on death row in 2017 after being convicted under Pakistan´s draconian blasphemy law, and hundreds awaited trial. Most of those facing blasphemy are members of religious minorities–including Aasia Bibi, the first woman to face a potential death sentence for blasphemy–and are often victimized by these charges due to personal disputes.
In 2017, Pakistan witnessed an increase in blasphemy-related violence while the government continued to encourage discriminatory prosecutions and other forms of discrimination against vulnerable groups by failing to repeal discriminatory laws and using religious rhetoric inciting hatred against minority groups. In March, the interior minister described blasphemers as “enemies of humanity,”and stated he would take the issue to its “logical conclusion” in taking action against them.
In April, a mob dragged Mashal Khan, a 23-year-old student at a university in Mardan, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, from his dormitory and shot him dead over accusations that he made blasphemous remarks against Islamic injunctions. In May, a 10-year-old boy was killed when a mob tried to storm a police station in Balochistan to attack a man held on blasphemy charges.
The Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) sent out a mass text message in May to millions of users informing them that uploading and sharing blasphemous content is a punishable offense, and asking them to report such content.”
The country stands in the growing shadow of a new dark ages, inspired by fundamentalist Islam. The mass media is singularly biased. In 2011 the country faced a series of crises, but the press "still agonised over the antics of Veena Malik, a Pakistani actress who had posed on the cover of an Indian men's magazine, apparently wearing nothing but a tattoo"19,37. This distorted perspective seems to go down increasingly well with the masses. In 2011, the Pakistani Taliban was said by 10% to be the greatest threat to Pakistan38 probably because of the destabilisation, negative effects on education, their barbaric beliefs, and their political interference. But how come only 10%, then, say that the Taliban are a threat? 60% said the USA is a bigger threat. It is a culture that is losing its way, misinformed about the world, and many of the most educated (i.e., doctors) take themselves abroad. Few return.
The International Humanist and Ethical Union produced a report entitled "Freedom of Thought" (2012)39, in which they document bias and prejudice at the national level that is based on religion, belief and/or lack of belief. Their entry for Pakistan states:
“The constitution and other laws and policies restrict freedom of religion, and in practice national and local government enforces these restrictions.
Chapter XV of Pakistan's Penal Code contains several sections regarding blasphemy-type laws. Article 295-A outlaws "deliberate and malicious acts intended to outrage religious feelings of any class by insulting its religion or religious beliefs." Article 295-B outlaws the defiling of the Holy Qu'ran. Article 295-C bans the use of derogatory remarks in respect of the Holy Prophet. Article 298 bars uttering works with the deliberate intent to wound religious feelings. And article 298-B punishes any misuse of epithets, descriptions, or titles reserved for certain holy personages or places. Prosecutions for blasphemy are widely thought to be brought against those wishing to eliminate competitors or those against whom they have a feud or grudge. The mere accusation may result in accused's life being endangered in prison, and such is the power of the mullahs who often come to court to intimidate the judiciary in such cases, that obtaining a lawyer, and even a judge to try the case fairly is often impossible. An accusation, however false, can therefore become a sentence of death.
When applying for a passport, applicants must state their religion. "No Religion" is not accepted as an answer. If an applicant states their religious identity as "Muslim" then they are required to sign an additional declaration that they accept the Prophet Mohammad as the "final Prophet".
Cases of Discrimination
On November 8, 2010, Asia Bibi, a Christian farm worker and mother of five was convicted of blasphemy and sentenced to death for allegedly making blasphemous remarks following a disagreement with a Muslim co-worker who refused to drink from a container of water she carried, believing it was tainted. Several prominent Pakistani politicians have been assassinated for supporting her freedom (more below).
On March 2, 2011, Shabaz Bhatti, Minister for Minority Affairs, was assassinated at his home in retaliation for his opposition to blasphemy laws. His assassins left leaflets threatening opponents of blasphemy laws with a similar fate. Despite the fact that members of the Tehrik-e-Taliban have taken responsibility for the murder, no one has yet been charged in Bhatti's death. Bhatti had been fighting for a presidential pardon for Asia Bibi, whose case is mentioned above.
On June 22, 2011, 29-year-old Abdul Sattar was sentenced to death and fined 50,000 rupees (US$1,000) for sending text messages and having phone conversations in which the Holy Qu'ran, the Prophet Muhammad, and other Islamic figures were allegedly blasphemed.
On Oct. 13, 2012, a retired schoolteacher named Ameer Ali Wahocho was sentenced to three years in prison for allegedly making insulting remarks about the Prophet Muhammad and his family. Wahocho was originally sentenced to one month, which he appealed. While out on bail, his accuser also petitioned - for a stricter sentence. The accuser's petition was granted and Ameer Ali Wahocho's prison sentence was extended to three years.
[...] An IHEU member organization was formed in Pakistan in the 1990s, but its founder, Dr Younus Shaikh, was soon charged with blasphemy and sentenced to death (following an IHEU campaign, Dr Shaikh's conviction was overturned and he fled the country). Today, there is no registered organization in Pakistan able to become an IHEU member. Yet there is a thriving Facebook group for Pakistani atheists with far more participants than the defunct off-line group ever attracted.”
In 2001, the Governor of Punjab, Salman Taseer, was arguing for leniency against a Christian woman, Asia Bibi (mentioned in the IHEU cases above), who was sentenced to death for blasphemy. Taseer was also campaigning to reform Pakistan's horrible blasphemy laws. As a result of this, Taseer was assassinated by his own bodyguard, Mumtaz Hussein Qadri.39. Demonstrations of support of the bodyguard broke out across Pakistan - "'the demonstrations expressed the feelings of many' according to Pakistanis themselves, the reforms were making people angry and 'God gave Qadri the courage to do something about it'"38. Such is the temper in a country that is being dragged backwards into a barbarous theocracy by religionists, amidst a wave of fear.
Current edition: 2019 Jan 01
Parent page: Pakistan (Islamic Republic of Pakistan)
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The Economist. Published by The Economist Group, Ltd. A weekly newspaper in magazine format, famed for its accuracy, wide scope and intelligent content. See vexen.co.uk/references.html#Economist for some commentary on this source. A newspaper.
(2019) "What is the Best Country in the World? An Index of Morality, Conscience and Good Life" (2019). Accessed 2019 Jan 13.
The Fraser Institute
(2016) The Human Freedom Index. Published by The Cato Institute, The Fraser Institute and the Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom. Covers data up to 2014. On www.fraserinstitute.org/.../human-freedom-index-2016.
Grim & Finke. Dr Grim is senior researcher in religion and world affairs at the Pew Research Center, Washington, D.C, USA. Finke is Professor of Sociology and Religious Studies at the Pennsylvania State University.
(2011) The Price of Freedom Denied. Subtitled: "Religious Persecution and Conflict in the Twenty-First Century". Amazon Kindle digital edition. Published by Cambridge University Press, UK. An e-book.
(2011) Human Development Report. Published by the UN Development Programme. This edition had the theme of Sustainability and Equity: A Better Future for All. Available on hdr.undp.org/... UN Development Program: About the Human Development Index.
(2017) Human Development Report. Published by the UN Development Programme. Data for 2015. Available on hdr.undp.org/.
(1989) Islamic Fundamentalism and Modernity. Published by Routledge.