Govt should appeal IHC ruling on declaration of faith: HRCP

F.P. Report

LAHORE: The Islamabad High Court’s (IHC) recent ruling requiring a declaration of faith is cause for serious concern and should be appealed by the federal government, said the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) Wednesday.

“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,” said HRCP. “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 Commission added.

HRCP, which has long documented institutionalized discrimination by he state as well as violent attacks by extremists against religious minorities, observed 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.

“Forums for justice such as the Honourable IHC should play their due role in safeguarding the fundamental rights of the most vulnerable sections of society.

It is therefore unfortunate that Pakistan’s religious minorities should feel more unsafe as a result of a ruling by the honourable court,” said HRCP.

HRCP called on the government to seek to reverse the Honourable IHC’s ruling through appeal at the earliest.

“It is essential that the government act in aid of its minority citizens by appealing this ruling speedily and robustly,” said HRCP.