5 years after Tassaduq Jilani Judgment Pakistan’s minorities still face persecution

This month is the 5 year anniversary of the landmark 2014 Supreme Court judgement that ordered the government of Pakistan to take steps to protect all religious minorities.

Then Chief Justice Tassaduq Hussain Jilani “acknowledged the persecution that non-Muslims in Pakistan endure, and placed the blame squarely on the country’s leaders. The justices ruled that the government must create a National Council for Minority Rights, a special law enforcement division to protect non-Muslim houses of worship, and form a think tank to combat religious intolerance. The government must also prosecute those who distribute intolerant propaganda, protect religious minority children who are persecuted at school, develop objective learning curricula, and enforce an affirmative action quota in the job sector. The Supreme Court ruling was made in the aftermath of the September 2013 All Saints Church suicide bombing, which killed over 100 people. Although authorities knew of a possible Pakistani Taliban attack at the church days before the bombing, no additional police officers were sent to protect the congregants. The church’s usual appointment of two guards was its only defense. The Court found that the government failed to protect its citizens.”

Five years later, the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) commemorated the judgment through a meeting that expressed “concern that, despite the lapse of five years, no real progress has taken place on implementing this judgement, except for the establishment of the one-man Suddle Commission, whose report is still awaited. Given the significance of the Tassusuq Jilani judgement in protecting religious freedoms, among other fundamental rights, HRCP earlier filed a public interest litigation with the assistance of allied organisations, requesting the Supreme Court to take note of the matter. The application recorded the status of implementation of directives issued in the judgment. The Tassusuq Jilani judgement lays the foundation for the realisation of religious minorities’ rights. If this basic benchmark for the rights of minorities cannot be implemented, then the state’s claims concerning the protection of minority rights seem meaningless.”

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