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The federal Shari'a court and the Shari'a bench of the Supreme Court serve as appellate courts for certain convictions in criminal court under the Hudood Ordinances; judges and attorneys in these courts must be Muslim.The federal Shari'a court may overturn any legislation judged to be inconsistent with the tenets of Islam.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 faith fostered religious intolerance, acts of violence, and intimidation against religious minorities.Less than 0.5 percent of the population was silent on religion or claimed not to adhere to a particular religious group.
Criminal law allows offenders to offer monetary restitution to victims and allows victims to carry out physical retribution rather than seek punishment through the court system. Religious minorities claimed that minority offenders faced far higher, and minority victims received far lower, amounts of monetary restitution than did Muslims.
Other religious communities were generally free to observe their religious obligations; however, religious minorities are legally restricted from public display of certain religious images and, due to discriminatory legislation and social pressure, are often afraid to profess their religion freely.
Freedom of speech is subject to "reasonable" restrictions in the interests of the "glory of Islam." The consequences for contravening the country's blasphemy laws are death for defiling Islam or its prophets; life imprisonment for defiling, damaging, or desecrating the Qur'an; and 10 years' imprisonment for insulting another's religious feelings.
President Pervez Musharraf ordered the release of all women imprisoned under the Hudood Ordinances; few remain in custody, and most are housed in Government-run group homes.
The Ahmadiyya community continued to face governmental and societal discrimination and legal bars to the practice of its faith.
Societal actors, including terrorist and extremist groups and individuals, targeted religious congregations. Groups comprising 2 percent of the population or less include Hindus, Christians, and others including Ahmadis.