The Pakistan movement was a fight for India’s minorities. It was an exercise in securing minority rights, a call for more representation, and a fight against minority discrimination of any and all kinds. If it was not amply clear then, the Quaid e Azam, the Great Leader, Mohammad Ali Jinnah coined these principles in his 11th August speech in 1947:
“You are free to go to your temples; you are free to go to your mosques or to any other place of worship in this state of Pakistan”.
– MUHAMMAD ALI JINNAH
That the new flag, an amalgamation of the white stripe to the existing Muslim League flag, was adopted on this very day should have further accentuated this fact. Perhaps with the birth of Pakistan, the flag quite presciently symbolized the birth of another struggle – that of Muslim and Non-Muslim coexistence.
The Partition of the Indian sub-continent did not automatically solve the many inimical issues between communities that had been created by more than two centuries of British rule, but perhaps it was seen as heralding the beginning of a healing process.
Three days later, on August 14th, 1947, Pakistan gained independence and the Dominion of Pakistan came into being and with it overnight, the scales tipped. Muslims were finally in the majority and non-Muslims only made 20.5 percent of the 33 million-strong people that lived in the lands that now form Pakistan. This number only decreased in the next two years as the exodus continued until 1949 bringing the non-Muslim population to just under 3% in the first-ever national census in 1951.
Forty-seven years later, this number increased by a meager 0.8% to 3.75% as the total population increased by 100 million in absolute terms as noted in the Census of 1998.
The situation in our present time is not much different. Though official statistics relating to minorities from the 2017 National Census are yet to be released, the total population is officially claimed to have increased to 207 million people in the nineteen years since the last census.
The fact that it has been three years since the last census was held and the government still hasn’t been able to produce a population statistic for the minorities shows not only the country’s gross neglect of its minorities but also just how much it has diverged from the original vision of Jinnah who had hoped to reach a point of political integration such that “Hindus cease to be Hindus and Muslims cease to be Muslims”
While they wait for official statistics to continue, many non-governmental organizations are starting to gather their own data. And though this is encouraged, it should not be seen as a substitute for what first and foremost is a government’s responsibility. This is especially urgent in a world of fake news and op-eds.
It is in the context of this modern, post-truth world we live in, that we felt a need to create a website that could act as a repository and keep track of all the integral communities that make up the white of the flag, without whom Jinnah’s vision of Pakistan will always remain incomplete
The subcontinent has been host to a rich amalgamation of ethnicities and religions for much of modern history. The far-right religious groups that have come to dominate the political atmosphere today is perhaps the culmination of the famous divide and rule policy that was first introduced following the events of the Great Indian Revolt of 1857-8. It gave birth to the ideology of the 2 nation theory which ultimately resulted in the Pakistan Movement.
The timeline below represents and traces the plight of minority groups in the subcontinent from 1857 up to the present day in Pakistan, in an effort to shed light on how the current situation came to be.
 Jillani, Shahzeb. “The Search for Jinnah’s Vision of Pakistan.” BBC News, BBC, 11 Sept. 2013, www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-24034873#16159647338392.
Pre Partition 1857-1940
1857 – The Great Indian Revolt, or the War of Independence takes place when Hindus and Muslims unite to overthrow the British
1860 – The British Raj introduce a set of laws to quell Hindu Muslim violence. These laws would go on to form the basis of Pakistan’s current blasphemy laws
1906 – The Muslim League is founded to fight for a better Muslim representation in British India
1927 – Section 295A, or the Hate Speech Law, is added into the Indian Penal Code to protect a community’s religious sentiment.
1934 – Jinnah returns to politics in British India.
1940 – Chaudhry Muhammad Zafarullah Khan, an Ahmadi pens the Lahore Resolution. The Muslim League endorses the struggle for a separate muslim homeland to be called Pakistan
1947 upto 1960
9th August 1947 – Jagannath Azad, a Hindu from Mianwali, composes the first National Anthem of Pakistan.
11th August 1947 – Quaid e Azam, the Great Leader, Mohammad Ali Jinnah delivers a speech in which he lays out his vision for a secular Pakistan. Jogendranath Mandal, a Dalit leader of the Pakistan movement and the temporary chair of the Constituent Assembly presides over the historic inaugural meeting.
14th August 1947 – Following its independence from British rule, the new Dominion of Pakistan comes into being, with western and eastern wings geographically separated from each other by India. One of the greatest migrations in the history of human civilization ensues.
15th August 1947 – The first cabinet is formed. It includes Jogendranath Mandal who is assigned the ministership of Law and Labour. Liaquat Ali Khan becomes the 1st Prime Minister of Pakistan.
December 1947 – Zafarullah Khan, an Ahmadi, is given the portfolio of Foreign Affairs and Commonwealth Relations.
September 1948 – Jinnah succumbs to tuberculosis. Pakistan loses its founder and visionary just one year into its existence.
March 1949 – The Objective Resolution, a basic directive for the new nation, is adopted by the Constituent Assembly. It is however vigorously opposed and rejected by all minority members who see it as being the antithesis of the secular state Jinnah had imagined on 11th August 1947.
April 1950 – The Delhi pact is signed by India and Pakistan as a mutual understanding to protect minority rights in both countries
October 1950 – Jogendranath Mandal resigns accusing the rulers of extreme forms of discrimination against Dalits — including forced conversions and mass murder.
1950 – Majlis-e-Tahaffuz-e-Khatme-Nabuwwat, an organization that seeks to protect the finality of the Prophet Muhammad is established, in direct opposition to the Ahmadi movement.
October 1951 – Liaquat Ali Khan is assassinated, the first Prime Minister of the country. It is the country’s first high-profile murder.
February – March 1953 – The Lahore Riots take place in Lahore and other areas in Punjab. Around 200-2000 are killed in what is one of the first instances of violent attacks not just on Ahmadis but on religious minorities in general
1956 – Pakistan’s first constitution is adopted and Pakistan officially becomes the Islamic Republic of Pakistan. The Presidency is restricted to Muslims above the age of 40.
1957 – The government notifies 40 castes as ‘Scheduled’ Castes.
1958 – President Iskander Mirza abrogates the constitution, and declares the first country-wide martial law. He also changes the name to “Pakistan” through a presidential order.
1958 – General Ayub Khan deposes President Iskander Mirza and becomes the 2nd President of Pakistan.
1960 – Evacuee Trust Property Board is established to look after properties left over by the Sikhs and Hindus who migrated to India.
March 1962 – Second Constitution comes into effect. “Pakistan” is retained as the official name of the country.
1962 – Advisory Council of Islamic Ideology is founded by General Ayub Khan for Islamic legal advice in the matters of the state
June 1963 – Therhi Massacre takes place in Sindh. 120 people are killed in one of the first major sectarian attacks in the country
December 1963 – Name of the country reverts back to the ‘Islamic Republic of Pakistan’ after extreme opposition from religious groups
March 1971 – East Pakistan separates from West Pakistan. A new nation, Bangladesh is born and with it Pakistan loses 20 Percent of its non-Muslim population.
December 1971 – Bhutto assumes presidency after Pakistani forces recognize defeat in the 1971 Liberation War.
1973 – Pakistan’s 3rd constitution takes effect. President Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto becomes the new Prime Minister.
September 1974 – Bhutto government caves in to pressure that culminates in the Ahmadi riots of 1974. The second amendment defining Ahmadis as non-Muslims and a minority group is made to the constitution.
November 1975 – Fourth amendment is made to the constitution in 1975. It awards 6 additional seats to minority groups.
July 1977 – Gen Zia removes Bhutto in a bloodless coup, suspending the constitution and declaring martial law.
September 1978 – Zia Ul Haq assumes Presidency
January 1978 – Gen Zia declares 1978 as Year of ‘Islamisation’. An education committee is constituted to review syllabi and revise them to include an ‘Islamic bias’
1979 –Tehreek-e-Jafaria (TJP), a Shia militant group in Pakistan, is founded in 1979 to combat the rising anti shia sentiments
April 1979 – Bhutto is Hanged
December 1979 – Dr. Abdus Salam, an Ahmadi and a world renowned physicist becomes the first Pakistani to win the Nobel prize
May 1980 – The establishment of a Federal Shariat Court to oversee the Islamisation of Laws and Legislation is announced.
1980 – Zia imposes a Zakat and Farming tax that is viewed as anti-Shia legislature. Section 298-A is passed as a clause in the constitution. Use of derogatory remarks against Holy personages in Islam is criminalised.
1981 – Zia ul Haq suspends section 7 of the Christian Divorce Act that was inherited from the British. Divorce is outlawed except in the case of adultery.
March 1982 – Section 295-B of the Constitution is put into law to protect the Quran from intentional damage.
April 1984 – Zia issues the Martial Law Ordinance XX. Section 298 B & C, the Ahmadiyya Blasphemy Law is added to the Pakistan Penal Code. 3 days later the Ahmadiyya leadership is compelled to leave Pakistan – The Ahmadi movement is to be headquartered in London.
March 1985 – Martial Law is lifted after eight years. Junejo is sworn in as Prime Minister.
1985 – Sipah-i Sahaba, an anti-Shia group, is established. Separate electorates are introduced for minorities in the elections of 1985.
October 1986 – Section 295-C, the Criminal Law Act of 1986, is passed into law.
June 1988 – The Zia Regime tries to make Shariah the supreme Law of the land via the 9th Amendment to the Constitution. It does not get passed into law just yet.
August 1988 – Gen. Zia Ul Haq dies in a mysterious plane crash.
November 1988 – The Satanic Verses, a book by British Pakistani Author Salman Rushdie is banned in Pakistan for its alleged blasphemous content .
December 1989 – A case is filed against the entire town of Rabwah for using and displaying Islamic nomenclature throughout the city.
1990 – Federal Shariat Court rules the death penalty mandatory under Section 295-C
1991 – Enforcement of Shariah Act, a watered down version of the 9th Amendment is passed. Shariah is made the supreme law in Pakistan and all laws are to be interpreted in the light of the Quran and Sunnah.
1991 – Section 295(a) of the Blasphemy Laws is amended. The maximum punishment is increased from 2 years to 10 years.
Dec 1992 – The demolition of the Babri Masjid in India incites reciprocal attacks on Hindu places of worship in Pakistan. At least 24 people are killed and at least 100 temples are attacked by Muslims.
1996 – LeJ, Lashkar e Jhangvi, an offshoot of Sipah e Sahaba, is formed.
Feb 1997 – Mob attacks Christian village of Shanti Nagar. 2500 Christians are forced to flee after their village is burnt to the ground.
1997 – Justice Arif Iqbal Bhatti is assassinated in his chambers at Lahore High Court after acquitting Salamat and Rehmat Masih in their blasphemy trials in the previous year.
Aug 1998 – Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif proposes what would have been the 15th constitutional amendment to make the Koran the supreme law of Pakistan. Deputies from minority communities including Hindus decline to support the measure.
1999 – Pervez Musharraf orchestrates Pakistan’s fourth Martial Law in fifty years.
2000 – President Musharraf caves into pressure from religious parties over the passing of a procedural amendment to the blasphemy laws. The law would have mandated an investigation of a crime as a prerequisite for arrests.
2001 – Ghulam Mustafa Chaudhry, forms the Khatm-e-Nabuwwat [Finality of Prophethood] Lawyers’ Forum, with one aim: to ensure that those accused of blasphemy were prosecuted and found guilty.
2002 – President Musharraf bans Shia and Sunni militant groups in an attempt to curb sectarian violence.
2002 – President Musharraf reinstates joint electorates for all minority groups except Ahmadis.
2004 – President Musharraf upgrades the minorities wing of the Ministry of Minorities, Sport, Culture, Tourism, and Youth Affairs to a fully-fledged Ministry of Minorities.
2006 – The film ‘The Da Vinci Code’, is banned after an outcry from both Muslim and Christian groups in the country.
2008 – The Pakistan Peoples Party, PPP invests in the Ministry of Minorities and renames it the Ministry of Minority Affairs.
2009 – Pakistan introduces a requirement that 5% of all Federal and Provincial Government posts must be filled by religious minority workers.
2009 – PPP declares August 11th the National Minority Day.
2009 – Shahbaz Bhatti, a prominent Christian human rights activist is appointed the Federal Minister for Minorities. This is the first time the post of Minister of Minorities is raised to cabinet-level.
2009 – The Christian community in Gojra is attacked by a riot. More than 100 homes are set on fire. 8 people are killed with a further 18 injured.
April 2010 – 18th Amendment to the constitution is passed in an attempt to restore more autonomy to the provinces. 17 Federal ministries, including the Ministry of Minorities Affairs, are to be devolved to the jurisdiction of respective provinces.
May 2010 – 86 people are killed and more than 120 injured in Lahore in a major attack on two Ahmadi places of worship.
January 2011 – Salman Taseer, Governor of Punjab is assassinated for speaking in favor of Asia Bibi, a Christian woman accused of blasphemy. His bodyguard shoots him 27 times in broad daylight.
March 2011 – Shahbaz Bhatti, a lifelong Christian activist and also the Federal Minister for Minorities, is assassinated for speaking in favour of Asia Bibi. Paul Bhatti, late Shahbaz Bhatti’s brother is appointed Special Advisor to the PM for Religious Minorities.
July 2011 – The ministry of Minority Affairs is closed. A new ministry, the Ministry of National Harmony, is created.
September 2012 – Seven people are killed in twin blasts at North Karachi in what are considered the first attacks on the Bohra Muslim minority.
February 2013 – The Hazara community refuses to bury their dead in protest after a bomb rips through their community and kills at least 90 people.
March 2013 – A 2000 people-strong Muslim mob attacks Joseph Colony, a Christian settlement in Lahore after a blasphemy allegation. More than 100 homes are plundered and burned.
June 2013 – Ministry of National Harmony is merged with the larger Ministry of Religious Affairs against severe backlash from Paul Bhatti.
September 2013 – All Saints Church is attacked in Peshawar. 87 people are killed and a further 170 injured.
February 2016 – Mumtaz Qadri was hanged in Adiala Jail. According to some estimates, there were over 100,000 people in attendance at his funeral.
March 2016 – 72 People are killed and at least 300 are injured in an attack targeting Christians as they celebrate Easter.
April 2016 – Sindh Hindu Marriage Law is passed that finally allows the province to officially recognize Hindu unions.
February 2017 – The Islamic State group takes responsibility for a suicide bombing at a major Sufi shrine in Sindh which killed nearly 90 people.
March 2017 – Federal Hindu Marriage Act is passed. Hindu marriages are now recognized all over the country.
June 2017 – Section 7 of the Christian Divorce Act is restored after 36 years.
October 2018 – Asia Bibi is acquitted after spending 9 years in jail on blasphemy charges.
November 2019 – The Kartarpur Corridor opens the second most holy Sikh site to Sikh pilgrims in India.
July 2020 – A man is killed in a Peshawar courtroom hearing for allegedly committing blasphemy. He used to be an Ahmadi but had left the community a while ago according to an Ahmadi spokesperson.
September 2020 – Thousands of Pakistanis march for an anti-Shia protest in Karachi.
October 2020 – The Council of Islamic Ideology clears the Krishna Mandir, the capital’s first Hindu temple, for construction in Islamabad.
October 2020 – Arzoo Raja, a Christian girl, is allegedly kidnapped in Karachi as part of a forced conversion.
December 2020 – A temple that is undergoing restoration in Karak, KPK is attacked and burned by a mob of 1500 locals. A Protection of the Rights of Minorities Bill is introduced in the Senate which is ultimately shut down by JUI, the same party whose supporters orchestrated the incident.
January 2021 – Hazara miners are shot dead point-blank while working in Mach, Balochistan. ISIS claims responsibility. Community members stage protests and refuse to bury their dead until demands are met.