'Attacks on minorities' places of worship in Pakistan shot up in 2012'
The year 2012 saw a sharp rise in attacks on places of worship of minority communities in Pakistan. Nine places of worship, including five churches and three Hindu temples, have been damaged, destroyed or vandalised in Pakistan so far this year.
According to data collected by the Church-run National Commission of Justice and Peace (NCJP), at least 27 places of worship of religious minorities have been vandalised in the last four years. The NCJP also records incidents of forcefully occupying land meant for worship places or occupying existing places, as well as murders of those involved in building worship places, reports The Express Tribune.
The perpetrators in all of these cases were "unidentified men," except for the Ahmadi worship place, where the minarets were demolished by the Punjab police.
Senior office bearer of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) Hussain Naqi blamed this increase in violence against minorities on a "mix of absence of good governance, connivance and fear" on the state's part.
The country's Constitution defends minorities, their access to worship, and their properties. However, prosecution is often weak when places of worship of minorities are attacked.
"Minorities are discriminated against in such cases, largely because of weak investigation on the police's part," said senior advocate of the Supreme Court Mian Tariq Ahmed.
Kamran Arif, lawyer and member of the HRCP said: "Nobody is interested in prosecution of such cases. The law for protection of minorities' worship places does have room for improvement, but the issue is that the government needs to work on implementation of whatever little the law offers, to tackle the issue of impunity."
Peter Jacob, Director of NCJP said that organised attacks on minorities can only be dealt with, if Pakistan has a law on "violence against minorities". He said the posturing of law needs to be proactive, and the government's efforts to mainstream non-Muslim citizens needs to reach a logical end.