USCIRF said Pakistan must remove material denigrating religious minorities from educational curricula and train teachers on the importance of religious tolerance, as well as establish and train a special police task force to protect religious minority communities and their houses of worship.
In 2015, the Pakinstani government banned Ahmadiyya religious texts. Ahmadis consider themselves Muslims, but Pakistan's constitution does not recognize the Ahmadis as such.
There are about 500,000 Ahmadis in Pakistan. Some observers estimate the Ahmadi population in Pakistan is higher, but persecution encourages Ahmadis to hide their identity. USCIRF recommended the ban on the texts be lifted.
There are at least 80 people currently imprisoned in Pakistan for their religious beliefs. Many of those accused of blasphemy are murdered, and advocates of changing the law are also targeted by violence.
A recent high-profile case involved a Catholic woman, Asia Bibi, whom authorities sentenced to death by hanging in 2010 for blasphemy. She spent nine years on death row, but left Pakistan for Canada in 2019 at the age of 53 after her death sentence was overturned in October 2018.
Though the Pakistani Supreme Court in January 2019 upheld the decision to overturn her conviction, the verdict and her subsequent release from prison sparked protests from Islamic hardliners who support strong blasphemy laws.
In 2009, a mob of Muslims looted and burned a Christian neighborhood, killing six Christians by burning them to death. The attacks took place in reaction to a rumor that the Quran was desecrated in a nearby village.
In Punjab province last year, a mob attacked a Christian community after a mosque broadcast over loudspeaker a claim that the Christians had insulted Islam. In another incident in Karachi, false blasphemy accusations against four Christian women prompted mob violence that forced nearly 200 Christian families to flee their homes, the USCIRF said.
In 2013 the then-governing party of Pakistan, the Pakistan Muslim League, promised a quota for jobs in the educational institutes and the public sector for members of religious minorities. The Pakistan Peoples Party discussed an Equality Commission to monitor job quotas in Sindh.
Both parties are now in the opposition in the national parliament, and the proposed safeguards have not been put into action.
In May, Pakistan established a long-delayed National Commission for Minorities, which the country's Supreme Court had called for in 2014. Hard-line Islamist groups threatened to protest the commission, while Catholic leaders called the commission "toothless."
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Catholic and other religious leaders in the country have repeatedly spoken out against the country's treatment of minorities.
In August 2019, a number of Pakistani religious leaders signed a joint resolution encouraging the Pakistani government to adopt policies to protect religious minorities.
The conference to sign the resolution, organized by Aid to the Church in Need - Italy and by local advocate Tabassum Yousaf, was attended by Fr. Saleh Diego, vicar general of the Archdiocese of Karachi, who represented Cardinal Joseph Coutts.
Representatives of the country's Muslim, Hindu, Sikh, and Baha'i communities also were present and signed the resolution.
In a Jan. 21, 2020 letter written on behalf of Philadelphia's Pakistani Catholic community, then-Archbishop of Philadelphia Charles Chaput encouraged Pakistan's Prime Minister Imran Khan to shape a culture of religious freedom.