During 2012, the blasphemy laws continued to be used as a tool by society to target religious minorities. The poorly drafted legislation enables police and individuals to abuse the laws, incarcerating individuals indefinitely on the basis of hearsay and without evidence. Abductions, forced marriage and forced conversion continued to place minority girls in danger and the migration of Hindus seeking refuge across the border in India exemplifies the severity of the situation for minorities. Those who dared to speak out or act in defence ofhuman rights were targeted for their courage.
Human Rights groups have also been calling 2012 a ‘deadly year for Shias’ with estimates that more than 300 Shias were killed during the year. Only one day before the new year, nineteen people were killed after a bomb struck two buses carrying Shia Muslims in southwest Balochistan province. In August, gunmen dressed as Pakistani security officials stopped a bus traveling from Rawalpindi to the northwestern Gilgit region and dragged the passengers off the bus. The gunmen asked the passengers to show their identity cards and then shot 22 Shiites at point blank range. It was the third such incident in six months.
Top down discrimination in the Constitution of Pakistan1, various laws and the education curriculum combined with a lack of investigation and prosecution of hate crimes has left religious minority groups in Pakistan (Christians, Hindus, Ahmadiyyas, Shias, Sikhs, Bahai) unprotected and effectively second class citizens.
With uncertainty surrounding upcoming elections in 2013, continuing violence, and a government unable or unwilling to act to protect minorities; their stability and safety is of increased concern. Without real change and commitment at the State level to protect minorities; corruption, impunity and discrimination continues to filter down to the everyday level. Weak legal procedures and impunity for violence against the most discriminated means that the most vulnerable are the least likely to receive the protection they need.