Latest Update: 31 March 2013
In the last three months Pakistan has moved closer to landmark democratic elections, but marginalised communities have continued to face persecution and deadly attacks.
The start of 2013 has seen a number of terrorist attacks targeting Pakistan’s Shia Muslims. On 10 January and 16 February the Hazara community in Quetta was targeted by bombings which killed over 200 people. On 3 March a bomb was detonated outside a Shia mosque in Karachi, killing at least 48 people. Impassioned demonstrations across the country followed these attacks, putting pressure on the Pakistani authorities to respond. We publically condemned the attacks in company with others in the international community, including the UN Secretary General.
On 9 March allegations of blasphemy were made against a member of the Christian community in Joseph Colony in Lahore which led to violent anti-Christian riots. A mob of several thousand destroyed over 150 homes and other property. Following the attacks, Baroness Warsi spoke to Paul Bhatti, Pakistan’s Minister for National Harmony and Minority Affairs to express her sympathy and the UK’s ongoing commitment to help Pakistan tackle religious persecution.
On International Women’s Day on 8 March landmark domestic violence legislation was passed in the Sindh Provincial Assembly. This is a significant step towards protecting women, children and other vulnerable people in Sindh from domestic violence. It follows several years of hard work by its supporters, including the UK. We hope that Pakistan’s other provinces will follow Sindh’s example.
On 16 March Pakistan’s National Assembly dissolved after successfully completing its full five-year parliamentary term for the first time. This signals the start of an important electoral process for Pakistan. The elections, to be held on 11 May, will be a crucial milestone in Pakistan’s democratic history. The UK continues to support democracy in Pakistan and will be joining other international partners to observe the elections.