ILN Pakistan Alumni launch Idraak

Report prepared by: Fida ur Rahman.


One of the outcomes of the Islam & Liberty Workshop held in November 2020 was an agreement amongst the participants to carry on these discussions with a focus on Pakistan. Over last one and a half years, the attendees have remained engaged virtually through a WhatsApp group “ILN Pakistan Chapter”. Earlier this year, they agreed to formalize this local network by forming a platform to be called Idraak (lit. understanding), a name suggested by an alumnus Aslam Mir. Fida-ur-Rahman, has taken up the responsibility as convener of Idraak. The group has agreed to meet once every month by anchoring the discussion on a current publication relevant to ILN themes.


First inaugural session of ILN-Idraak was held virtually on Saturday 24th April, 2022 from 11:00AM to 12:30PM (PST). Mr. Fida Ur Rahman, Alumni ILN, introduced the basic idea and objective of establishing ILN-Idraak – to explore and promote a Muslim case of liberty within Pakistan. Keeping in view the three core themes – political, economic and religious liberties, the inaugural session was based on Religious Freedom. Mr. Fida Ur Rahman delivered a knowledgeable and thought-provoking presentation on the annual reports of US Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) with special focus on the state of religious liberties in Pakistan.


The following issues and challenges to religious freedom in Pakistan were discussed: –

  1. Blasphemy law is misused and religious minorities are persecuted accordingly on the basis of this law. Even though most of the accused persons are Muslims themselves, but no serious concern is raised regarding the procedural shortcomings of the law.
  2. The debate on Blasphemy law needs to be contextualized keeping in view the socio-political roots of religious sensibilities, role of various interest groups and interplay of state and religion.
  3. Role of Council of Islamic Ideology (CII) Pakistan is not satisfactory in this respect. Even though the Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan 1973 guarantees equal rights to all citizens irrespective of religious affiliation, that includes non-Muslims, but the Ahmadi community has been facing systematic discrimination and structural violence that eventually led to persecution and socio-economic marginalization.
  4. Role of academia and educational institution is very crucial with respect to minimizing interreligious misunderstanding and hatred, and bridging the gaps at societal level. Youth needs to be groomed regarding the importance of peaceful coexistence and working relationship among the followers of all religious denominations in Pakistan.
  5. Foreign Office (FO) responds to the findings of the annual reports published by USCIRF and takes a defensive position by blaming India for restricting religious liberties and persecution of the religious minorities especially Muslims. Serious attention is not paid to the growing religious intolerance and extremism in Pakistan. It was suggested that Ministry of Religious Affairs should be taken on board for a better and convincing response keeping in view the ground realities.
  6. Ali Salman, CEO ILN, delivered concluding remarks and reiterated the need of exploring and promoting a Muslim case of liberty in the Muslim-majority countries and beyond. He suggested that the theme of religious freedom in the context of Pakistan should be given high priority and ILN Idraak should demonstrate its relationship with peace and prosperity. He thanked members of Idraak and hoped that it would become a regular forum for serious discussion.