Washington, June 16. Mr. Joseph K. Grieboski, President of Institute of Religion and Public Policy based Washington have issued an open letter to sign all the concerned who wish to raise up the issue of minorities discrimination in Pakistan. The lett
The situation of religious minorities is Pakistan worsens on a daily basis. Pakistani Christians and Hindus face tremendous persecution under that country's Blasphemy Law, which is applied arbitrarily upon the accusation of insult to the Prophet Mohammed or the Holy Koran and can carry the death penalty. Minority Muslim groups also face oppression, as some have been declared "not Muslims" in the eyes of the law and thus their practice of elements of Islam is considered blasphemous.
Just recently, the Northwest Frontier Province of Pakistan imposed Shariah law on all its residents - Muslim and non-Muslim alike. The increase in religious intolerance and targeting of religious minorities, especially since September 11, is a great cause of concern for both security as well as human rights.
On June 24, President Bush will meet with President Pervez Musharraf of Pakistan. Please consider adding your name to the letter below to call on President Bush to point out to President Musharraf the great need for democratization, rule of law, and religious freedom in Pakistan.
If you are interested in adding your name to the letter, please contact the Institute before June 20 by calling 202-835-8760; faxing us at 202-835-8764; or e-mailing us at IRPP@religionandpolicy.org.
Thanks so much for your leadership on this very important issue.
Joseph K. Grieboski
Dear Mr. President:
George W. Bush.
White House. Washington.
As the social and political situation in Pakistan becomes increasingly unstable, we urge you to take the opportunity of your upcoming meeting with President Pervez Musharraf to raise clearly the issues of democratization, religious freedom, and rule of law in Pakistan.
It is vitally important that Pakistan creates and maintains freedom of religion and expression so that moderating views may predominate. In such a volatile region as the subcontinent, it is necessary to allow free exchange of religious ideas so that extremists may not bully others into acquiescence and create a regime whose policies and actions do not represent the best interests of its people. The very idea of democracy is founded upon the belief that individuals, free to believe according to the dictates of own hearts and consciences and to publicly express those beliefs, are most capable of charting a proper course through turbulent times and difficult circumstances.
A guarantee by President Musharraf of the inalienable right of freedom of religion and belief in Pakistan indicates acceptance of the premise of democracy: that every individual has value and worth, and that the state is constituted to serve society, not vice versa. It is in this sense that freedom of religion is the cornerstone of democracy, in Pakistan and around the world.
An assurance of religious freedom also supports the other fundamental rights necessary to democracy: because it is grounded in the universal dignity of the human person, religious freedom encourages other related rights. A government that denies the right to freedom of religion and belief - as is done by legislation and the legal process in Pakistan - is far more likely to deny other rights central to human dignity, such as freedom from torture or murder. Religious individuals and groups need and deserve freedom of speech, freedom of assembly and the right to be secure in their homes from unwarranted government intrusion and harm.
Where freedom of religion and belief is protected by governments and valued by citizens, religion-based terrorism cannot take root. Freedom of conscience is an antidote to terrorism because it encourages a theological and political awareness of the need to accept and embrace the views of others, both majority and minority. For instance, we are not aware of a single regime in the world that both respects religious freedom and poses a security threat to the U.S.
In light of the current political and social instability in Pakistan, the resurgence of a conservative interpretation and application of Sharia law within Pakistan, and a record of undemocratic action on the part of Pakistani governments, it is our sincere hope that you will make clear to President Musharraf the need for freedom, democracy, and security, and express to him the need for the encouragement of these ideals in the present and future of Pakistan.