South Asians for Human Rights

Promoting Democracy, Upholding Human Rights

Minorities in Pakistan can be loosely defined by religion, gender, and location. The largest minority group within the country ironically comprises of almost half the population: women. Women are considered a minority due to their suppression within the electoral process – whether as voters or elected representatives – and their general absence in the public and private sphere in a male dominated society.

95% of Pakistan’s population is Muslim while the remaining 5% is comprised of Hindus, Christians, Parsis, Ahmadis and a few other denominations. Ahmadis follow the teachings of Mirza Ghulam Ahmed that deviate from the fundamentals of Islam.4 Due to these variations, Ahmadis are not considered Muslim and ostracized in predominantly Muslim countries such as Pakistan. Hindus and Christians face a similar fate in this country due to their religious beliefs and issues become exacerbated due to minimal or zero representation of these communities.

However, since its inception in 1947, Pakistan’s history has been rife with decades of military regimes, a week judiciary and multiple changes to the constitution which have significantly restricted the role and voice of minorities within the country.

A new phenomenon which has emerged in Pakistan over the past couple of years is that of internally displaced persons (IDPs). This minority has multiplied within the country due to natural disasters – the earthquake that hit the northern part of Pakistan in 2006 – and the more recent urgency to evacuate certain regions within the country due to security issues.

The marginalization of these minorities can be seen in almost all civil and military institutions however, the core issue revolves around the deprivation of certain groups from exercising their right to be an equal part of the electoral process. Within the context of this framework, this report will endeavor to identify minority groups within Pakistan, enumerate the issues surrounding fair and inclusive electoral processes by providing examples of cases over the past year and ascertain what can be amended to promote full electoral rights for minorities.

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