Information on the number of Catholic churches in Rawalpindi, their addresses and the names of their priests, whether Catholics can practise their religion there, whether Catholics have received blasphemy charges and whether there have been arrests of Catholics or any sectarian violence against them since 1994 [PAK26772.E]

The following information was provided by the secretary general of the Catholic Bishops Conference of Pakistan, also the Bishop of Rawalpindi-Islamabad, in a telephone interview with the DIRB on 9 May 1997.

The city of Rawalpindi has four Catholic churches. For information on their names, addresses and priests, please see the attached document sent by fax to the DIRB from the secretary general on 10 May 1997.

Despite the volatile political climate and pervasive fear among the population in Pakistan, members of the Catholic community may practice their religion without fear in Rawalpindi. The secretary general, who has been the Bishop of the Rawalpindi-Islamabad since 1993, stated that he was aware of two cases in which Catholics of his diocese were charged with blasphemy. One was charged under section 295-C of the Pakistan Penal Code's Blasphemy Law which makes defamation of the Prophet Mohammed a criminal offence. However, this individual was acquitted and following his acquittal, he fled to Sri Lanka. The second individual was charged under section 295-B of the above-mentioned law which makes any negative reference, by word or action, to the Koran a criminal offence. This individual remains detained in a Rawalpindi prison.

The secretary general was unaware of incidences of arrests and sectarian violence against Catholics in Rawalpindi since 1994.

This Response was prepared after researching publicly accessible information currently available to the DIRB within time constraints. This Response is not, and does not purport to be, conclusive as to the merit of any particular claim to refugee status or asylum. Please find below the list of additional sources consulted in researching this Information Request.


Secretary General of Catholic Bishops Conference of Pakistan/Bishop of Rawalpindi-Islamabad, Rawalpindi, Pakistan. 9 May 1997. Telephone interview.


Catholic Bishops Conference of Pakistan, Rawalpindi, Pakistan. 10 May 1997. Fax sent to DIRB by secretary general.

Additional Sources Consulted

Amnesty International Report. 1995-1996.

Amnesty International. July 1994. Use and Abuse of Blasphemy Laws.

Country Reports on Human Rights Practices. 1994-1996.

Critique: Review of the Department of State's Country Reports on Human Rights Practices 1994. July 1995.

Églises d'Asie [Paris]. 1995-1996.

The Encyclopedia of the Third World. 1992.

The Europa World Year Book 1996. 1996.

Foreign Broadcast Information Service (FBIS) Daily Reports. 1994-1997.

Freedom in the World: The Annual Survey of Political Rights and Civil Liberties 1994-1995. 1995.

The Herald [Karachi]. 1996-1997.

Human Rights Commission in Pakistan (HRCP). The State of Human Rights in 1996. 1997.

Human Rights Watch World Report. 1995-1997.

Two sources consulted did not provide information on the above-mentioned subjects.

On-line search of news articles. (NEXIS and Internet)