We are not optimistic after meeting President Mushraf. APMA.<br>PCP. Special report.
28 Jul 2002
Islamabad. July 27.The All Pakistan Minorities Alliance delegation comprising of five members met the president of Pakistan on July 24 in president house Islamabad and stayed with General Pervez Musharaf from 12:15pm to 2:20pm. This minority's leader
It's important, that APMA was formed on July 14 in Islamabad only a week before this invitation. The Christian minority has been demanding the restoration of reserved minority seats in parliament and revival of separate election system in Pakistan. The minority's pressure on government for these demands was threatened by the boycott of the forthcoming Oct. national general elections. The pressure was eased by the government agencies on formation of APMA as viewed by the true minority representatives. Although this APMA delegation was considered as the governments own selected minority leaders but again government never issued the routine press note on meeting of this minority delegation from the president house to release the discussed matter and demands presented by APMA.
According to the sources the APMA delegation was dictated to present the issues not relating to the recent amendment in constitution but to highlight the general hardships not related to the election package. The true Christian leadership have been demanding the representation of minorities in senate of Pakistan since 1973 but the said delegation was forced by the government agencies before this emergency scheduled meeting with president of Pakistan not to include the matters of Christian women and technocrats representation in senate and national assembly of Pakistan which have been banned by the recent amendments by the government.
Still we are presenting the memorandum handed over to the president of Pakistan during this meeting by the All Pakistan Minorities Alliance because these are the longstanding Christian demands and president house was supposed to issue press note on the discussion on these issues which was not taken into consideration by the administration.
1.Formation of National Commission for the abolishment of blasphemy and discriminatory laws. This commission may also review the cases of blasphemy prisoners and release the innocent prisoners who are imprisoned for long time due to the draconian blasphemy law.
2.Elimination of Federal Shariat court, which is supra constitutional forum and contradict judicial and legislative institution of the country. It also discriminates religious minorities by holding the supremacy of religion Islam in all its decisions.
3. Government should take concrete particle and visible steps to address the problems faced by the minorities' women especially government should take serious action in the cases of rape, gang rape, abduction and forceful conversion of minority women.
5.Restoration of reserved seats for the minorities according to 1973 constitution, in which minorities had separate seats in the joint electorate system.
6.Removal of article 2A of constitution of Pakistan, which bans the free practice & preaching of religion by the non-Muslims.
These were the major demand by the APMA leaders and addition to these it was also discussed that government should take serious and concrete steps to safe guard worship places of non Muslims i.e. Churches, temples, Grudwaras (Sikhs' worship place) etc. Aside from inter alia points, we also mentioned that minorities are feeling insecure and unsafe after recent terrorist attacks. We even mentioned the names of the blasphemy prisoners and their conditions in jail as well as brought the cases of rape, abduction and forceful conversion of young Christian girls in Presidents' knowledge.
It is learned that after listening to the delegation the President assured that he will take notice of these injustices and will try to alleviate the gang rape of the minority women. He said that he would sympathetically consider all our demands. He also shared "I can not compromise on basic Islamic concept of Islamic philosophy for Pakistan but we will try to protect the minorities' rights". But the president house refused to issue any press note to declare that minorities have no apprehensions on the amendment package, which seems very surprising for the minority's leaders in Pakistan.
The expressions of the meeting delegates that "We are not optimistic after this meeting but we are satisfied that we raised our demands and concerns before the head of the state. This is also a recognition of "All Pakistan Minorities Alliance" (APMA) as the President invited the members as "APMA" in the meeting ". One delegate said, "This is a clear indication that if monitories are galvanized and raise their voices from one platform then they can succeed and attain their rights. Newspapers and even National media gave wide coverage to this meeting".