Paks minorities may face worse times in future

Islamabad: The previous year was a bad one for Pakistan`s minority communities including Muslims of various sects, Sikhs and Hindus due to threat to their lives by militants, according to a new report which suggested even worse times ahead.

The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan`s report said 418 Muslims of various sects were killed in terror attacks and about 25 per cent of Sikh families in the Orakzai tribal area were forced to leave their homes due to threats from Taliban.

It said 500 Hindu families from Balochistan province migrated to India due to threats to their lives and security.

The "State of Human Rights in 2010" report, which detailed attacks on the minorities, said: "All indications suggest that there are even worse times ahead."

The report said 418 people were killed in violence against different minority Muslim sects while suicide attacks on Muslims injured 628 people, including Shias.

Sikhs living in Pakistan`s northwestern areas for centuries had to face trying times after the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan asked them to pay `jiziya` (a religious tax) or leave the area.

Around 25 of the 102 Sikh families living in Orakzai Agency were forced to flee their homes.

They were able to return after the military carried out an operation against the militants.

A total of 500 Hindu families from Balochistan in southwest Pakistan migrated to India because of threats to their lives and security, the report said.

According to Balochistan`s director of the Federal Human Rights Ministry, at least 27 Hindu families from the province had sought asylum in India because of threats, it added.

The minority Ahmedi sect, which was declared non-Muslim through a constitutional amendment in 1974, lost 99 members to faith-based violence, the report said.

The report further said 64 people were charged under the controversial blasphemy law in 2010 and many of them were imprisoned.

A Muslim and two Christian men accused of blasphemy were killed in police custody, it said.

Highlighting the abuses of the rights of minority communities, the report said there had been few positive developments with regard to freedom of thought, conscience and religion.

"Extremist views grew more vociferous as voices for basic human rights and tolerance became more isolated in face of violence and intimidation," the report noted.

It said police were not doing enough to protect minorities from attacks and had even been accused of harassing or being complicit in framing false charges against them.