Amid the election fanfare, how are Pakistan’s minorities faring?

Soon Pakistanis will go to the polls in a general election that will define the next period in the country’s history. Among the traditional campaign fodder of economic debate, international relations, and social and cultural issues, one topic has been conspicuously absent from the public discourse: the role of minorities in 21st century Pakistan and the issues they face.

Religious minorities in Pakistan often face a range of difficulties in accessing the same rights and opportunities as communities that are part of the Muslim majority. As religion and nationalism have become increasingly intertwined in the ongoing debates seeking to define the national narrative, minority voices have often struggled to be heard.

Advocates of minority rights in Pakistan often report a lack of political will in responding to these issues. This failure of governance can lead to situations of social exclusion, promoting division and mistrust between communities. One strong tool to counter the effects of this marginalization are job and education quotas that could create a path to guaranteeing at least some minimal representation for religious minority communities.

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