Petition calls on the United Nations to recognise the rights of non-Muslims and non-believers in Pakistan

AS PAKISTAN prepares for a general election this Saturday, a petition has been set up calling on the Secretary-General of the United Nation to recognise an International Day Against State Religion on August 11, 2013 “in solidarity with victims of the State Religion, namely, non-Muslims and non-believers of Pakistan”.

The petition says that:

The life of non-Muslims and non-believers of Pakistan is as good as hell thanks to the ‘state religion’ of Pakistan.

It adds that Mr M A Jinnah, the founder of Pakistan, said in his first presidential address to the constituent assembly of Pakistan on August 11, 1947, that religion “has nothing to do with the business of the state” – but none of the members of the Pakistan parliament has ever heeded his words.

The petition urges the UN to come to the help of the victims of the state religion in Pakistan as well as around the globe.

Meanwhile, the run-up to Saturday’s election has turned out to be one of the bloodiest in Pakistan’s history.

This man was injured in a bomb blast during an election campaign rally of the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam religious party on May 6. Photo: REUTERS/Fayaz Aziz

This man was injured in a bomb blast during an election campaign rally of the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam religious party on May 6. Photo: REUTERS/Fayaz Aziz

According to this report, Taliban militants have carried out almost daily bomb attacks on political offices, public rallies and other events connected to the elections.  The nation-wide violence has left dozens of people dead including several candidates and has effectively prevented many key politicians from openly campaigning.

Today, the son of former Pakistan Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani was taken hostage by gunmen during a political rally in his home area of Multan.  Amid a spray of gunfire, unidentified men on motorbikes sped up to the rally and kidnapped Ali Haider Gilani, who was addressing his supporters.

Here the Taliban is quoted as saying that they are only targeting “secular” parties and that elections can:

Only serve the interests of infidels and enemies of Islam. 

The former ruling Pakistan Peoples Party or PPP along with its coalition partners, namely the Awami National Party (ANP) and the Muttahida Qaumai Movement (MQM), have borne the brunt of the Taliban attacks.

The three secular parties are staunchly opposed to the Islamist militancy. They had backed the army’s actions to clear Pakistan’s volatile northwest of the Taliban.

Senator Farhatullah Babar of the former ruling party says Taliban attacks have severely hampered the three parties from campaigning and it could hurt them at the polls. He said:

This is the first election in Pakistan in which the progressive, liberal and democratic parties have been publicly threatened by the militants and extremists that they will not be allowed to participate in the electioneering. And the field is open for all other political parties but for these three political parties.

The violence against the largely secular Pakistani parties is seen by many as benefiting their rivals from right-wing political and religious groups known for being sympathetic to the conservative Islamic forces. But  a  spokesman for the religious-based party, Jan Achakzai, rejects claims that his party is benefiting from the violence, and he  blames the violence on the what he says is the failure of the secular parties to fight corruption.