Two United Nations human rights experts on Wednesday urged the government of Pakistan to repeal provisions in its electoral laws that they claim discriminate against the Ahmadi Muslim minority.
Although the Ahmadis consider themselves Muslims, an amendment to Pakistan’s Constitution in 1974 declared them “non-Muslims”, a provision that is included in the current Constitution.
“With national elections today, the current legal requirement for a separate electoral list for the Ahmadis, who have to declare themselves as non-Muslims in order to vote, is of particular concern,” Efe quoted Ahmed Shaheed, Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief, and Fernand de Varennes, Special Rapporteur on minority issues, as saying in a joint statement.
The civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights of the Ahmadi minority have been progressively negated on account of differences with the majority community, Shaheed and de Varennes said.
“We are deeply concerned about increased acts of persecution of Ahmadis and about the discriminatory provisions against the Ahmadiyya community in Pakistan’s domestic law. These measures contribute to acts of violence against Ahmadis based only on religious differences,” they added.
Both experts expressed concern about the legal requirement that prevents Ahmadis from obtaining national identification and travel documents, which is also a form of discrimination on the basis of their religion or belief, they say.
They called for the death penalty for blasphemy offences to be repealed, saying religious minorities in Pakistan were “disproportionately” charged, simply for practicing their faith.