HRCP: Government Should Appeal IHC Ruling on Declaration of Faith
On March 9, 2018, the Islamabad High Court announced its verdict on a case concerning controversial amendments made to the Khatm-i-Nabuwwat oath in the 2017 Elections Act. The court ordered that it was critical that all citizens be easily identifiable by their faith and that applicants for public offices would need to declare their beliefs before being considered eligible for any jobs.
Justice Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui, interpreted to Article 5 of the Constitution to mean that it was “mandatory” for every citizen, Muslim or non-Muslim, to “declare their true faith”, otherwise they could be guilty of “betraying the State” and “exploiting the Constitution.” The Judge also expressed his alarm that referred to ‘one of the minorities’ as being those who were “often mistaken for being Muslims” due to their names and general attire and that this was wrong as it would “lead them to gain access to dignified and sensitive posts, along with benefits.”
In a recent press release the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan asked the federal government to appeal this decision of the court.
The HRCP “is appalled by the recent IHC ruling that makes a declaration of faith mandatory for government and semi-government job applicants, including for the armed forces, judiciary and the civil services. This ruling has serious repercussions for all religious minorities, not least the Ahmadiyya community. Requiring a faith declaration for computerized national identity cards, passports, birth certificates and entry into voter lists will further choke the capacity of minorities to exercise their fundamental rights. These requirements will only enable and deepen institutional discrimination against minority communities.”
The HRCP noted that “it was he state’s responsibility to protect all its citizens, regardless of their ethnic, religious and regional identities. The honourable court’s ruling, it cautioned, could lead to an increase in instances of aggression and violence against the Ahmadiyya community in particular. The consequences of this ruling could be deadly for members of this community, given their already precarious personal safety situation in the country.”