Dr. Mario Silva, a former member of the Canadian Parliament and Executive Director of the International Forum for Rights and Security (IFFRAS), has appealed to the international community to intervene in the issue of the persecution of Christian minorities in Pakistan under the blasphemy laws, while adding that the U.S., Europe and Canada must take Islamabad to task over this.
"I am concerned about the widespread discrimination against religious minorities, and in this case the persecution of Christians in Pakistan," Silva said, in a conference organised against "Persecution of Christian Minorities in Pakistan" at the United Nations Office in Geneva.
"We have to call the governments in Europe, the United States and Canada to ask what they are doing by maintaining a relationship with Pakistan. Why are you not speaking up with authorities regarding minority rights particularly with the persecution of Christians in that country? The countries must speak up against it."
"There is a gross human rights violation against minorities under the blasphemy law as it specifically targets Christians by forcible conversion, imprisonment. The authorities do nothing about it and the Pakistan Government has refused to change the law," he added.
Silva further said that the world community is aware of the atrocities taking place against the Christians in Pakistan and we want that "Islamabad must live upto its obligations" and " the international community should stand up so that every country gives equal rights to every citizen irrespective of religion."
"Pakistan, which once had very large Christian community and lots of Christian schools, hasn't remained so. We have seen that the country that started with democratic liberal values has transformed to become more conservative, has embraced radicalisation and funding of large terror cells. This is a huge concern as Pakistan is supported by partners in the West," Silva said.
"There have been several cases of bomb attacks specifically targetting Christians. We are here to bring the focus of the world community to the atrocities taking place against the Christian minorities in Pakistan."
"The Christians played very important role in the development and construction of Pakistan. There are so many issues including human rights violations in Pakistan. The discrimination and persecution of minorities including Christians has been rooted in the 1973 Constitution drafted by former Pakistan prime minister Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto and approved by the parliament on April 10, 1973. Due to this, in the new Constitution, all the minorities were barred from occupying any higher official status in the government," a Christian representative from Pakistan said.
"The major setback for minorities specially the Christians was based on the 8th amendment made by Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq and empowered by former prime minister Nawaz Sharif in 1991. 'Sharization' or 'Islamisation' became the primary policy of the government of General Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq and it led to Christians persecution through blasphemy law," he added.
"Since 1987 to 2017, 222 cases under the blasphemy law have been registered against Christians. People in Pakistan have been following personal vendetta against the oppressed and persecuted Christians. Many Christian colonies were set on fire by fanatic Muslims and Islamic militant groups," another representative said.