ISLAMABAD: Supreme Court in its judgment in suo motu case regarding Peshawar church bomb blast asked the federal government to constitute a National Council for minorities’ rights on Thursday.
“The function of the said Council should inter alia be to monitor the practical realisation of the rights and safeguards provided to the minorities under the Constitution and law. The Council should also be mandated to frame policy recommendations for safeguarding and protecting minorities’ rights by the Provincial and Federal Government”, said the 32- page judgment, authored by Chief Justice of Pakistan Tassaduq Hussain Jillani.
Announcing what could be a a landmark judgment on minorities’ rights, the supreme court also asked the government to form a special task force for the protection of worship places of minorities.
“A Special Police Force be established with professional training to protect the places of worship of minorities”, said the judgment.
The judgment further read that in all cases of violation of any of the rights guaranteed under the law or desecration of the places of worship of minorities, the concerned law enforcing agencies should promptly take action including the registration of criminal cases against the delinquents.
“We find that the incidents of desecration of places of worship of minorities could be warded off if the authorities concerned had taken preventive measures at the appropriate time. The court also found that the inaction on the part of law enforcement agencies was on account of the lack of proper understanding of the relevant law.”
The apex court also asked to develop appropriate curricula at school and college level to promote the religious tolerance in the country.
“Appropriate curricula be developed at school and college levels to promote a culture of religious and social tolerance.”
“It is time for us as a nation and as individuals to have a moment of reflection, a moment of soul searching and perhaps a moment of reckoning to ask ourselves; have we lived by the pledges made in the Constitution and by the vision of Quaid-e-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah, the founder of this country,” said apex court.
The court has also asked the federal government to take appropriate steps to ensure that hate speeches in social media are discouraged and the delinquents are brought to justice under the law.
In view of the statement made by Attorney General for Pakistan and Additional Advocate Generals of Punjab, K-P and Balochistan regarding reservation of quota for minorities in the federal and provincial services, the court has directed the federal and all provincial governments to ensure the enforcement of the relevant policy directives regarding reservation of quota for minorities in all services.
“The office shall open a separate file to be placed before a three members Bench to ensure that this judgment is given effect to in letter and spirit and the said Bench may also entertain complaints/petitions relatable to violation of Fundamental Rights of minorities in the country”, the judgment said.
“There is a general lack of awareness about minority rights among the people and those entrusted with enforcement of law are also not fully sensitized to this issue either”
The judgment says that it is because of absence of effective State action that despite elaborate textual guarantees for minorities’ rights, empirical realities reflect a mixed bag, rather a dismal state of affairs.
The court also pointed out that Chief Secretary Balochistan intimated the SC Registrar that about 415 Hazaras who belong to Shia sect were killed on sectarian grounds in a period of 11 years.
“The afore-referred report and other incidents of faith or ethnic based violence indicate that mere textual pledges in the Constitution, though important are not enough to ensure that those rights would be honored in practice. It is, therefore, important that the concerned governments/institutions take proactive lead to ensure that those rights are respected and enjoyed in practice.”