717 people dead in Pakistan religious violence in past 1.5 years

Washington: At least 717 people were killed and 1108 injured in 203 targeted violence against religious communities in Pakistan since January last year, a report released by a Congress established independent commission has said.

Among those killed included two Hindus and one Sikh, said the Pakistan Religious Violence Project report released by the US Commission for International Religious Freedom, which tracked over the past 18 months publicly-reported attacks against religious communities in Pakistan.

It added that majority of the people who died were from the Shia community. “The findings are sobering 203 incidents of sectarian violence resulting in more than 1,800 casualties, including over 700 deaths” the report said.

“The Shia community bore the brunt of attacks from militants and terrorist organizations, with some of the deadliest attacks occurring during holy months and pilgrimages,” it added. “While Shia are more at risk of becoming victims of suicide bombings and targeted shootings, the already poor religious freedom environment for Christians, Ahmadis, and Hindus continued to deteriorate, with a number violent incidents occurring against members of these communities,” it said.

USCIRF said the Project’s findings paint a grim and challenging picture for the government led by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. “It was positive that the Prime Minister raised concerns about religio

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