The joint resolution said minorities “should be given particular protection” against the abuse of the country's blasphemy laws.
Pakistan's blasphemy laws impose strict punishment on those who desecrate the Quran or who defame or insult Muhammad. Although the government has never executed a person under the blasphemy law, accusations alone have inspired mob and vigilante violence.
Blasphemy laws are reportedly used to settle scores or to persecute religious minorities; while non-Muslims constitute only 3 percent of the Pakistani population, 14 percent of blasphemy cases have been levied against them.
Many of those accused of blasphemy are murdered, and advocates of changing the law are also targeted by violence.
The blasphemy laws were introduced between 1980 and 1986. The National Commission for Justice and Peace said over 1,300 people were accused under this law from 1987 until 2014. The Centre for Research and Security Studies reported that at least 65 people have been killed by vigilantes since 1990.
In the joint resolution the religious leaders also noted that “there is no forced conversion according to the Holy Quran.” On that basis, they urged legislation against abduction, sexual violence, and subsequent forced conversion to Islam, which acts they said do not propagate “the true spirit of Islam.”
The joint resolution also called for the elimination from books of material encouraging hatred.
Earlier this year Sam Brownback, the US ambassador-at-large for international religious freedom, applauded Pakistan for showing a willingness to enhance religious liberty, while also recognizing the need for significant improvement.
Brownback met with Pakistani government and religious leaders Feb. 22-23.
“During these meetings, Ambassador Brownback emphasized the importance the United States places on religious freedom, the protection of religious minorities, and respect,” the US embassy in Pakistan stated.
In December 2018, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo named Pakistan as one of 10 “Countries of Particular Concern,” a designation given to states that engage in or tolerate egregious, ongoing religious freedom violations.
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That designation marked the first year that Pakistan had been placed on the list. The previous year, it had been placed on a “Special Watch List.”