‘Promises with minorities remain unfulfilled’

No party fully implemented election manifesto since 2008, contends report

Our Correspondent January 18, 2023


The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) has fulfilled none but made partial progress regarding two of the five promises made in its election manifesto in 2018 regarding religious minorities, the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) failed to implement nine of its 10 promises and the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) partially implemented one of eight assurances.

This was claimed in a reported presented by an NGO, the Centre for Social Justice (CSJ), during a seminar on the political parties’ priorities and minorities’ rights. Representatives of political parties and the civil society attended the seminar.

The report titled ‘Promises to keep and miles to go’ and based on the analysis of pledges, actions and performance regarding minorities’ rights contended that none of the parties had been able to fully implement their promises in the last three parliamentary tenures.

The study found that one-third of the pledges related to the issue in the parties’ election manifestos in 2008, 2013 and 2018 were common. They included minorities’ representation in the ETPB, establishing a statutory minorities commission, criminalising forced conversion, reviewing the curriculum, implementing job quotas and reviewing discriminatory laws. However, the pledges remain unfulfilled.

It revealed that the Punjab government had introduced 11 policy actions in this regard since 2008, followed by the federal government with nine actions, Balochistan eight, Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa seven and Sindh six.

The majority of actions lacked a strong legal basis and implementation mechanism, which indicates a need for a serious re-examination of the administrative system.

The policy actions rely heavily on issuing notifications, which is a convenient use of administrative powers, while the government evidently faced difficulties in legislating and instituting rules of procedure regarding various measures. Concrete information on the utilisation of funds allocated for scholarship, places of worship and skill development was not made public, there was a lack of implementation due to an absence of notifications, or the purpose of the policy action was not fulfilled, it highlighted.

PTI leader Mahindar Paul said the party was committed to taking legal, policy and administrative measures to safeguard minorities’ rights.

Legislators need to make more efforts to effectively address the barriers and challenges faced by minorities, and they must introduce and support meaningful actions dedicated to the protection of minorities’ rights, he added.

PPP leader Barrister Amir Hassan said the electorate should not support the politicians engaged in spreading extremism.

CSJ executive director Peter Jacob said minorities’ rights was not a sectoral but central issue of the politics of Pakistan. He urged the parties to build consensus for a credible population census and reforms in laws to ensure free, fair and transparent general elections. Rights activist Tanveer Jahan said a regressive model was being projected to the people.

Published in The Express Tribune, January 18th, 2023.


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