Call for equal rights to minorities
PESHAWAR: The representatives of non-Muslims have demanded of all political parties to include rights and freedom of expression as part of their manifestos to ensure all equal rights to minorities.
They expressed this during a meeting titled, “Penal Discussion with Political Parties on Religion Freedom and Human Rights” organised by the South Asia Partnership Pakistan (SAP-PK) held here at on Thursday. Besides large number of people of Sikh community, Hindus and representatives of different political parties participated in the meeting.
Those spoke on the occasion included Sardar Charan Jeet Singh, Harun Sarb Diyal, Chairman All Pakistan Hindu Rights Movement (APHRM), Abdul Jalil Jan of Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F), Mukhat Bach, Provincial President National Party (NP), Bushra Gohar of Awami National Parrty (ANP), Tariq Khan of Qaumi Watan Party (QWP), Rahmat Salam Khattak, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa General Secretary of Pakistan Muslim league-Nawaz (PML-N), women leaders of Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf (PTI) and Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) and Shahida Shah from SAP-PK who thoroughly discussed the ordeal of non-Muslims in the country.
Rejecting the commission formed at the government level for minorities, the participants particularly non-Muslims said that there was no representative of minorities in the commission and could not resolve their issues.
They said although the Constitution guaranteed them equal rights, ye they found the implementation purely cosmetic, resulting in token representation of minorities in the national and provincial assemblies. They also demanded a separate electoral process in the upcoming elections whereby minorities could choose their own candidates through ballot.
They viewed that both the minorities and Muslims apparently affected by terrorism and extremism, which also earned a bad name for Pakistan in the rest of the world. The participants highlighted the issues being faced by non-Muslim communities, particularly relating to quota in parliament, education and health sectors, economic deprivation and others.
The panelists strongly supported the demand of minorities to give them all due right, especially freedom to non-Muslims residing in Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) and in settled areas to perform their religious obligations in a freely manner. They also urged the federal and provincial government to make amendments in laws relating to inheritance and marriage with consultation of representatives of minorities.
Leaders of political parties also agreed that they would put suggestions and recommendations of religious minorities before leadership of their respective parties to raise voice for minorities at high level.