ISLAMABAD, Feb 20: The Supreme Court of Pakistan on Thursday sprung into action to protect the peaceful Ismaili Muslims of Chitral and the Kalash tribe against threat issued to them by the outlawed Taliban.
Chief Justice of Pakistan Justice Tasaduq Hussain Jilani took suo motu notice of a video released by Taliban in which they threatened to launch an armed struggle against Ismailis and the Kalash community Chitral valley on Feb 2, calling upon the Sunnis of the area to support their cause.
Resuming the hearing of the case at 11:30am, Justice Jilani remarked that the constitution of Pakistan strictly prohibits forcible conversion, adding no one is allowed to force the people to change their religion at gunpoint. He said that pressing a non-Muslim to change his/her religion is neither allowed under the constitution nor religion permits it, adding no one should be pressured to stop practicing their religious rituals.
Justice Jilani further observed that protecting the religious rights of minorities is the prime responsibility of the government and in failing to do so, the state will not be fulfilling its constitutional obligation. The advocate-general Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Lateef Yousafzai told the bench that the Kalash valley is close to Nooristan province of Afghanistan due to which they receive threats from across the border and there was no such problem in Chitral to either of these communities.
To a question raised by the chief justice whether the authorities had taken any measure to tighten security after the threats to the communities, the advocate-general could not come up with any satisfactory answer. This prompted the top judge to say that Islam is a religion of peace and tolerance while the terrorists want to impose their brand of religion, which in no way is acceptable to the Islamic state of Pakistan.
Justice Jilani regretted that the militants had threatened the Ismaili Muslims and the Kalash to face death or convert, which is not only ultra-constitutional but negates the very spirit of Islam.
The CJP directed the advocate-general to bring the issue to the notice of the federal government and apprise the court what practical steps have so far been taken to protect the people as security to the people, threatened by the Taliban fugitives.
The bench also directed Yousufzai to submit a detailed report about the measures taken by the provincial government as well as the district administration in the aftermath of the threatening video released by the militants.