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Navigating the Complex Terrain: Marginalized Communities in Pakistan
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The struggles faced by marginalized minorities in Pakistan have long been a pervasive concern, involving social exclusion, discrimination, and persecution. Reports from Marginalized - Minorities (2015), Amnesty International, and the 2022 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices shed light on the multifaceted challenges encountered by these communities, extending beyond legal aspects to impact social, economic, and environmental dimensions.

The creation of a Muslim majority by the Pakistani state has significantly shaped the dynamics of struggles faced by minorities. Historical struggles for Pakistan's survival and sustainability, influenced by security concerns, have resulted in military interventions and strained relations with citizens and neighboring countries. Despite assurances of religious freedom, the presumption that Pakistan was founded as an Islamic State has impeded the realization of this freedom for minorities. The clash of ideologies, political disagreements, and influences of socialism further complicate the landscape for marginalized communities, including religious minorities.

Religious minorities, in particular, confront significant challenges, as highlighted by human rights organizations. Violence against them has led to arbitrary arrests, prosecution, and hindrance in accessing employment and basic services. The constitution's establishment of Islam as the state religion may contribute to discrimination and violence against religious minorities, extending to challenges in accessing healthcare facilities, facing employment discrimination, and damage to places of worship.

Looking ahead, the future of marginalized minorities in Pakistan remains uncertain, marked by state-sponsored Islamization and the exploitation of Blasphemy Laws. The Objectives Resolution of Pakistan complicates matters by emphasizing the ideological basis of Islam in the country's constitution. Shi'a Muslims and Hazaras, among the most marginalized, grapple with safety issues, legal abuse, and discrimination. Addressing these multifaceted challenges is essential for promoting social inclusion, justice, and a more equitable future for all communities in Pakistan.

Turning to scholarly works, a plethora of studies have meticulously explored the complexities of gendered exclusion, minority status, and broader social issues in Pakistan. Naseem (2006) underscores the gendered exclusion of women and minorities within the citizenship discourse, emphasizing the role of curricula and textbooks in shaping gendered citizens. Khan (2015) sheds light on the economic contributions of communities, particularly Punjabi business communities like Khatris, Pirachas, Chiniotis, and Shamsis, who played a pivotal role in establishing Pakistan's economy.

Advani's (2016) qualitative paper delves into the status and impact of minority migration in Pakistan, offering valuable insights for lawmakers, politicians, and social workers. Hussain (2017) explores challenges faced by the transgender community, emphasizing local and global contestations challenging prevailing gender discourses. Hasan (2019) investigates caste-based residential segregation in Mithi and Karachi, examining how political change, migration, violence, and religious and ethnic identity have shaped preferences in Karachi. Kamran (2010) focuses on Punjabi Christians, examining their status and the critical events shaping postcolonial Pakistani Punjab. Redclift et al. (2010) investigate the 'Urdu-speaking Bihari' minority in Bangladesh, exploring the role of space and settlement in forming their Diasporic identity. Shaheed (2010) analyzes the fusion of religion and politics under Zia's martial law, particularly its impact on women.

Khan et al. (2011) delve into the impact of converting common land into protected areas in Shimshal, northern Pakistan. Shahzad et al. (2016) study the establishment of Islamic religious organizations in South Korea by the Pakistani Muslim minority community, emphasizing the role of social capital in initiation, establishment, and sustenance. Iraqi et al. (2019) explore women's empowerment in the social enterprise sector, and Sikander (2021) examines systematic Islamophobia in India against Kashmiris and Indian Muslims post the partition. According to Ahmad et al.'s prediction from 2022, globalization has a mostly favorable impact on both economic growth and the decrease of poverty in Pakistan. This body of work, which is supplemented by significant works like Watts (2004) and Islam (1981), provides a thorough examination of Pakistan's marginalized communities and societal dynamics, offering priceless insights for comprehending and resolving the complex issues these groups face.

In conclusion, the minorities in Pakistan have suffered discrimination and social exclusion. Though the media has been trying to create a positive image of the country the truth seems far from it when it comes to minority issues. Being nationals of the country we suggest policymakers recognize these problems and address them to society so that a more inclusive environment can be created for Pakistan. We believe that the problem of minorities can be solved by educating the majority of the Muslim population about the country’s minority and their rights as well. Thus, bringing change in Pakistan.

Maryam Arif is a Pakistani author, entrepreneur, and advocate for women's empowerment. She has authored 8 books, and received national and international recognition for her work, including TEDx talks and prestigious awards.

Zainab Rana is a student specializing in International Relations at The National University Of Modern Languages (Islamabad campus)


Naseem, M. (2006). The Soldier and The Seductress: A Post-structuralist Analysis of Gendered Citizenship Through Inclusion in and Exclusion from Language and Social Studies Textbooks in Pakistan. International Journal of Inclusive Education, 10(3), 235-248.

Sattar, T., Yasin, G., & Afzal, S. (2012). Socio-Cultural and Economic Impediments of Inequality in Provision of Educational Right to Female: A Case of Southern Punjab (Pakistan). International Journal of Human Resource Studies, 2(3), 176-187.

Khan, I. M. (2015). Successful Entrepreneurial Minorities of Pakistan. Sustainability & Economics eJournal, 6(2), 45-58.

Advani, A. (2016). An Increasing Migration of Minorities in Pakistan. Arts and Social Sciences Journal, 7(4), 123-135.

Hussain, M. (2017). Book Review: Vanja. Hamzic, Sexual and Gender Diversity in The Muslim World: History, Law and Vernacular Knowledge.

Hasan, A. (2019). Residential Segregation in Mithi and Karachi, Pakistan. Environment & Urbanization, 31(1), 245-259.

Hameed, A., & Qaiser, Z. (2019). Estimating Social Exclusion in Rural Pakistan: A Contribution to Social Development Policies. Development Economics: Regional & Country Studies eJournal, 12(4), 198-212.

Wilson, A., Saeed, S., & Rahman, A. U. (2020). Constitutional Rights of Religious Minorities in Pakistan.

Mehfooz, M. (2021). Religious Freedom in Pakistan: A Case Study of Religious Minorities. Religion, 11(2), 89-102.

Akhtar, S. (2021). Socio-Cultural Role of “Marginalized”: Case of Almas from Tulambah.

Islam, N. (1981). Islam and National Identity: The Case of Pakistan and Bangla Desh. International Journal of Middle East Studies, 13(4), 489-502.

Watts, G. (2004). Bangladesh Group Has Trained 30 000 Community Health Workers. BMJ: British Medical Journal, 328(7447), 95.

Kamran, T. (2010). Community of The Marginalized: State, Society and Punjabi Christians. South Asian Review, 31(2), 123-136.

Redclift, V., Depretto, L., Macri, G., & Wong, C. (2010). Conceiving Collectivity: The Urdu-speaking 'Bihari' Minority and The Absence of Home.

Shaheed, F. (2010). Contested Identities: Gendered Politics, Gendered Religion In Pakistan. Third World Quarterly, 31(5), 837-851.

Khan, S. R., Rahman, S. A., & Sunderland, T. (2011). Commons Becoming Non-commons in The Efforts for Reconciliation Between Conservation and Livelihoods: A Case Study of Northern Pakistan. Journal of Horticulture and Forestry, 3(8), 238-245.

Shahzad, M., & Lee, H. S. (2016). Islamic Religious Organizations Across Borders: The Case of The Pakistani Migrant Muslim Community in Korea (South). Journal of Muslim Minority Affairs, 36(2), 198-211.

Iraqi, K., & Faisal, T. (2019). Empowering Women For Sustainable Development Through Active Participation In Social Enterprise’s Sector In Pakistan. Pakistan Journal of Gender Studies, 16(3), 345-358.

Sikander, M. U. H. A. (2021). Islamophobia in India. Journal of the Contemporary Study of Islam, 41(1), 67-78.

Ahmad, S., & Khan, I. (2022). The Impact of Globalization, Foreign Direct Investment and Trade Openness on Poverty: A Case Study of Pakistan. Economic Consultant, 12(3), 145-158.


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