USCIRF raises concerns over detainment, violence against religious minorities in Pakistan

The United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) expressed deep concerns about the increasing incidents of detainment, violence, and intimidation targeting the Ahmadiyya and Afghan refugee communities in Pakistan.

Recent developments have raised worries about the well-being of these communities, as they face mounting pressure and forced repatriation.

Over the past several weeks, Pakistani authorities have issued calls for the repatriation of “illegal migrants,” a group that includes approximately 1.7 million Afghan refugees lacking proper documentation. In addition, Pakistani officials have initiated raids and established deportation centers to detain individuals who do not willingly return to their home countries.

USCIRF Commissioner David Curry voiced particular concern about the potential forced return of religious minorities to Afghanistan. Under Taliban rule, individuals from various faith backgrounds, including Christians, Shi’a Muslims, Ahmadiyya Muslims, and Sikhs, experience severe limitations in practicing their religious beliefs.

“We are particularly concerned that the Pakistani government may forcibly return religious minorities who fled persecution to Afghanistan,” said USCIRF Commissioner David Curry. “Under Taliban rule, Christians, Shi’a Muslims, Ahmadiyya Muslims, and Sikhs cannot freely practice their religious beliefs in Afghanistan. The U.S. government must continue to engage with Pakistani officials to press them to reconsider this policy decision,” Curry added.

The USCIRF also urged the U.S. government to engage with Pakistani officials and exert pressure to reconsider the policy decision of forcibly repatriating these vulnerable individuals.

“We are alarmed by the number of attacks on places of worship and arrests of Ahmadiyya Muslims and their leaders, simply for practicing their faith,” said USCIRF Commissioner Susie Gelman.

“We call on the Pakistani government to ensure that the Lahore High Court’s ruling is observed. All citizens should have equal access to vote regardless of whatever religion they profess to follow, particularly as the country prepares for the upcoming general elections,” Gelman added.