Pakistan Religion - Non-Muslim Minorities
The most visible groups of non-Muslim minorities are Hindus and Christians. Hindus are found largely in the interior of Sindh and in the vicinity of Quetta in Balochistan. Christians, representing almost all West European dominations, are found throughout the country; many are engaged in menial work. Other minorities include Zoroastrians (also called Parsis), largely concentrated in Karachi, and members of groups relatively recently designated as non-Muslim, notably the Ahmadiyyas.
The various religious minority groups have secured separate representation in national and provincial assemblies but still have limited influence on national policy. They finally united around a common issue in October 1992 when the government of Nawaz Sharif decreed that religious affiliation would be indicated on identity cards. These cards were needed for a range of activities, including attending school, opening a bank account, registering to vote, casting a vote, and obtaining a passport. Members of minority groups organized demonstrations to protest this discrimination, which they argued would demote them to the ranks of second-class citizens. They argued that safeguards existed for them both within Islamic law and in the promises that had been made to them in 1947. The government soon rescinded the decree.
|Country Studies main page | Pakistan Country Studies main page|