PRESSURED by opposition from Pakistan’s religious right, the ruling PML-N in Punjab tried to prevent Kamran Michael, a Christian cabinet member from presenting the provincial budget this summer. They were forced to take back their decision.
In Faisalabad, the textile capital, members of the Ahmadi community were listed on flyers that said they should be murdered.
This pattern of hate and violence is said to have been perpetuated by certain elements in the establishment that have silently supported the militant ideologies of groups like the outlawed Sipah-i-Sahaba Pakistan. It is symptomatic of a shrinking liberal space and has seen a substantial rise in violence towards minorities.
Struggling for decades with its choice of polity, and lack of civil liberties, the debate on whether Pakistan is a democratic nation-state with secular values or an Islamist one with religion running the show has little significance for marginalised communities.