Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Pakistan: Some Minorities Prepare for Consequences Post Census Results

While the census draws to a close, the final figures are what the nation is waiting for.

Some marginalised, attacked and subject to unsubstantiated blasphemy charges, Pakistan’s religious minorities are hoping the country’s first census since 1998 will be a step towards greater political representation and rights.
But then there is a dark side to this.

Not all religious minorities are eager to make themselves known.

Ahmadis, a minority sect declared non-Muslims by law number an estimated 500,000 and are victims of persecution and violence.

When a Balochistan resident identified himself as Ahmadi to Pakistani census officials, he was chased out of the mosque where they had gathered families to be counted.

If they don’t identify themselves as Ahmadi, for fear of their safety, census officials simply assume the Ahmadis are Muslim.

This is potentially a dangerous move as if they declare themselves Muslim, they can be imprisoned for three years.
With the country is moving forward on the census, and on anti-corruption and anti-terrorism drives, it is a shame that progress and safety only applies to the mainstream Muslim Pakistani.

The minorities and marginal sects, by logic of their religious belief have a target painted on their backs.

The census can enumerate them, but if there is no effort made to resolve their problems and protect them, even a frequent census will be able to do nothing about our troublesome demographic realities.


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