Washington, Sept 22 : A new "International Religious Freedom Report" has said that though Pakistan took some steps to improve the treatment of religious minorities during 2007, serious problems, like the overall condition of women and minority communities, remained unresolved.
The report pointed out that there were forced conversions to Islam, especially in Sindh where 15-20 Hindu families were forced to convert.
Describing the general situation in the country in "pretty negative terms", the report, released at the weekend, said that terrorist and extremist groups and individuals "continued to target religious congregations", reported the Daily Times.
"The government took some steps to improve its treatment of religious minorities during the period covered by this report, but serious problems remained. Law enforcement personnel abused religious minorities in custody", said the report talking about the situation in Pakistan last year.
It said that security forces and other government agencies "did not adequately prevent" or address societal abuse against minorities. "Discriminatory legislation and the government's failure to take action against societal forces hostile to those who practice a different religious belief fostered religious intolerance, acts of violence, and intimidation against religious minorities," it added.
The report further said: "Specific laws that discriminate against religious minorities include anti-Ahmadi and blasphemy laws. The Ahmadiyya community continued to face governmental and societal discrimination and legal bars to the practice of its religious beliefs. Members of other Islamic sects also claimed governmental discrimination."
According to it, relations between religious communities "remained tense" and social discrimination against minorities was "widespread", accompanied by violence.
Freedom of speech in Pakistan was subject to 'reasonable' restrictions in the interests of the 'glory of Islam'. The consequences for contravening the country's blasphemy laws are death, noted the report.