Targeted killings of religious minorities in Pakistan

Religious minorities in Pakistan are currently engaged in a battle for their very survival, as the nation continues to lean towards Islamic conservatism. Shockingly, hardly a day passes without an attack being launched against those belonging to minority communities within Pakistan. Over the course of just two days, three targeted incidents led to the deaths of individuals hailing from minority communities in different parts of the country. In Peshawar, a Sikh shopkeeper, Dayal Singh, was gunned down by an unknown assailant on March 31, while on April 1, a Christian man by the name of Kasheef Masih was similarly shot dead by unidentified gunmen. In Karachi, the prominent Hindu Scheduled Castes (SCs) member, Dr Birbal Ginani, was deliberately targeted and killed on March 30. The failure of law enforcement agencies to apprehend the perpetrators of these murders has left religious minorities in Pakistan feeling frustrated, angry, and increasingly helpless. Both religious and political motives have prevented Islamabad’s ruling governments from addressing the concerns of minorities who continue to endure daily persecution and humiliation at the hands of members of the majority community. Last December, Pakistan was designated by the United States as a “country of particular concern” under the Religious Freedom Act due to its flagrant violations. The Act mandates that countries be designated as such if they are found to breach religious freedoms systematically and consistently. Furthermore, the 2021 US Report on International Religious Freedom stated that local law enforcement in Pakistan failed to protect religious minorities and individuals accused of blasphemy. The Center for Social Justice (CSJ), an NGO, reported that 84 blasphemy cases were filed in 2021 and 199 in 2020. The drop in cases was attributed to the Covid-19 lockdowns rather than an improvement in law enforcement efforts in Pakistan. The CSJ’s previous reports highlighted four key issues cont