ISLAMABAD: Chief Justice of Pakistan Tassaduq Hussain Jillani on Thursday observed that minorities could not be forced to embrace Islam, as the constitution fully protected them.
The chief justice was heading a three-member Supreme Court bench which heard the suo motu notice taken on reports that the people of Kalash and Chitral had been given an ultimatum by the Taliban to embrace Islam. The court directed the federal and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa governments to submit detailed reports within a week. Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Advocate General Latif Yousafzai informed the court that the Kalash people are an asset to Pakistan and there was no threat in the country to forcibly convert them to Islam.
However, they have been threatened by the Afghan Taliban, as the Kalash Valley is situated in the Chitral District, which is adjacent to Nuristan province of Afghanistan. The district doe snot come under the jurisdiction of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government, he added. The chief justice remarked that the rights of minorities were fully protected in the constitution, and they cannot be forced to change their religion. The court also directed the federal and provincial governments to protect the people of Ismaili sect.
The Pakistani Taliban have announced an “armed struggle” against an indigenous tribe and Ismailis in the picturesque northern Chitral Valley, calling on Sunnis to support their cause in a video. Taliban’s 50-minute long video released on February 2 on their media wing’s website opens with a scenic view of the mountainous valley. The narrator warns the Kalash, who are thought to number only 3,500, to convert to Islam or face death. “By the grace of Allah, an increasing number of people from the Kalash tribe are embracing Islam and we want to make it clear to the Kalash tribe that they will be eliminated along with their protectors, the Western agents if they don’t embrace Islam,” he says.
The video also accuses international NGOs of creating an “Israel” like state in Chitral by attempting to protect the Kalash culture and take people away from Islam, and vows to foil their plans. A charitable organisation headed by the Aga Khan, the Ismailis’ spiritual leader, is singled out for condemnation. “The Aga Khan Foundation is running 16 schools and 16 colleges and hostels where young men and women are given free education and brainwashed to keep them away from Islam,” the narrator says.
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