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Win for Pakistani Hindus. Sindh HC rules against national ID clause that ‘otherised’ non-Muslims

New Delhi: Hindus in Pakistan have scored a major win. Now they no longer have to declare their disassociation with Islam while applying for the national identity card.

The Sindh High Court has ruled on a petition filed by a Hindu man named Har Lal, who challenged the clause asking non-Muslims to first avow their disassociation with Islam and then declare their faith while applying for the Computerised National Identity Card (CNIC), issued by Pakistan’s National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA).

The clause read: “I hereby declare on Oath that: I am not Muslim and belong to Hindu Religion.”

“It’s so ironic that this process of acquiring our national identity card compromises our own identity!” Kapil Dev, a human rights activist based in Karachi, told ThePrint.

Dev said that the term ‘non-Muslim’ “goes against” what the Constitution affirms— that all citizens are equal. “It is negating my identity as a Pakistani Hindu and I feel otherised. Pakistani Hindus have been struggling with inequality for the past 75 years,” he said.

But Thursday’s judgment has directed the Ministry of Interior and NADRA to redesign the ID card’s form in a way that citizens only have to declare their own faith “without having to disavow an affiliation or association with any other religion.”

Karachi-based advocate Abdullah Nizamani, who argued for the petitioner, said the clause was challenged to highlight how this negative declaration was “unconstitutional” and that NADRA had “no feasible argument” to defend the clause.

Nizamani recalls that the judge found the argument presented by the counsel representing the Federation of Pakistan as “illogical”, saying that the classification can be done on the basis of religion alone without involving a declaration that defines itself against the faith of Islam.

Barrister Yasser Latif Hamdani, who was also arguing on behalf of the petitioner, questioned this discrimination based on faith. “Pakistan is for everyone and all kinds of citizens. That is the crux of the judgment,” he told ThePrint.

(Edited by Prashant)

Source: The Print

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