Supreme Court of Pakistan: Condemning the last year’s attack on a church in Peshawar and increase in the number threats given to the minorities residing in Chitral, the Supreme Court initiating a suo motu action expressed its concern over the insecurities faced by the minorities and directed the constitution of a National Council for minorities’ rights. The bench comprising T.H. Jillani, CJ., Azmat Saeed and Mushir Alam, JJ. stressed upon the fact that the Constitution of Pakistan upholds the freedom of religion for the minorities at par with the Muslim majority, therefore, the attacks are violative of the principles imbibed in the constitutional fabric of the nation.
The Court also observed that Article 20 of the Constitution of Islamic Republic of Pakistan does not make any distinction between majority and minority. It is in the nature of an Equal Religious Protection Clause conferred on every citizen, every religious denomination and every sect. The Court also referred to the report of Human Rights Commission of Pakistan Report, 2013 on sectarian violence which presented a sorry state of affairs as regards to the increasing number of attacks on minorities and other Muslim sects. In wake of these facts, the Court issued directions to the Federal Government to-
- Constitute a National Council for minorities’ rights which should monitor the practical realization of the rights and safeguards provided to the minorities under the Constitution and law and frame policy recommendations for protecting minorities’ rights.
- Establish a police force and a taskforce to protect the religious places of minorities and encourage religious tolerance respectively.
- Ensure proper policy formulations in this respect and implement curbs on sections of social media spreading religious hatred.
In Re. Suicide Attacks on Church in Peshawar and Threats to Kalash tribe and Ismailies in Chitral, S.M.C. No. 1 of 2014, decided on 19.06.2014