Faisalabad: August 11, 2019. (By Naseem Anthony) Law enforces and policy makers must ensure the implementation of Article 25 of the Constitution of Pakistan 1973 in letter and spirit for ensuring equality of citizenship and opportunities for all irrespective of sex, gender and religion. An autonomous body with sufficient resources is imperative to deal grumbles of religious minorities in Pakistan. The policymakers and law enforcers must consider the SDG 4.7 for the promotion of global citizenship education and also incorporate the topics of peaceful coexistence, gender equality, social justice and human rights in curricula and related policies. Such concerns were raised in a conference titled ‘Celebrate the Diversities for Social Harmony’, being organized by Association of Women for Awareness and Motivation to observe National Minority Day, presided over by Mrs. Firdous Rai (MPA-PTI) and Begum Khalida Mansoor (MPA-N League). The panelists include Nazia Sardar, Executive Director AWAM; Dr. Ghulam Mustafa, Head of Department Political Science and International Relations GC University Faisalabad; Dr. Rizwan Ullah Kokab, Head of Department History and Pakistan Studies GC University Faisalabad, Zaman Khan, renowned human rights activist and writer; Zeeshan Labha, City Magistrate Faisalabad; Dr. Najma Afazl, Former Parliamentarian; Shazia George, representative Punjab Commission on the Status of Women, Dr. Ejaz Akhter Bhatti, Medical Superintendent General Hospital Ghulam Muhammad Abad; George Clement, former Federal Minister; Muhammed Noor-ul-Ameen and Manzoor Anthony, representative of District Action Committee Faisalabad. The event was attended by students of higher education, research scholars, journalists, lawyers, government officials and political activists.
Firdous Rai parliamentarian PTI said, ‘the ruling party is committed to acknowledge the religious minorities as an equal citizenship and have zero tolerance for hatred towards religious minorities.’
Begum Khalida Mansoor parliamentarian N-League and former parliamentarian Dr. Najma Afzal said, ‘the previous government introduced legal framework for religious minorities and also amended the 5% job quota for religious minorities.’ They hoped, ‘The existing government of PTI would further strengthen the institutions and implementation mechanisms to protect the rights religious minorities in Pakistan,’
Nazia Sardar Executive Director AWAM Pakistan and Shazia George representative of Punjab Commission on the Status of Women (PCSW) said, ‘the religious minorities should break the culture of silence and must be engaged with institutions, authorities and parliamentarians for influencing their typical attitudes and behaviours.’ It was further shared, ‘the successive governments have established several human rights institutions and reserved numerous facilities but connectivity of concerned stakeholders is an issue that could be resolved through engagement with youth to connect them with the said institutions and facilities.’
Dr. Ghulam Mustafa and Dr. Rizwan-Ullah-Kokab said, ‘multireligious and multicultural attributes of Pakistan are centuries old and can not be ignored, yet current circumstances requiring the attention of civil society organizations and state institution for bridging the gaps between religions, sects and beliefs.’
Zeeshan Labha City Magistrate and Zaman Khan Faisalabad said, ‘the article 25 of the constitution must be translated into actions by all decisions makers and should focus the resources to create an inclusive and feasible environment for religious minorities for a dignified life in society.’
Naseem Anthony human rights activist said, ‘the religion is misused to justify the oppression of religious minorities and such practices in the cover of religion is contradictory.’ ‘The civil society organizations must stand up against the exclusion and discrimination of marginalized sections of society including religious minorities for demanding equality of representation and treatment’, he further added.