The government is not doing enough to honour its commitments related to protection and promotion of minorities’ rights, said speakers at a consultation on Friday.
The event had been arranged by REAT, a network of non-government organisations working for the rights of religious minorities.
Highlights of the network’s study on the National Assembly’s performance towards minorities’ rights were shared.
South Asia Partnership-Pakistan Executive Director Muhammad Tahseen briefed the media about the study’s findings. He said the National Assembly’s performance on protecting rights of minorities had been disappointing.
“The quality of discussions and amount of time given to the issue was far from satisfactory. Commitments and assurance given in the National Assembly have not been acted upon,” he said.
Tahseen gave account of claims made by the ministers concerned in the National Assembly.
“On November 4, 2013, Minister for Religious Affairs and Interfaith Harmony Sardar Muhammad Yousaf, on a question, replied that the federal government has re-activated National Commission for Minorities with an expanded mandate. The terms of reference and composition of members has been approved.
However the fact is that the mandate, members and physical address of the said commission is still unknown,” he said.
“On December 10, 2013, the minister shared some of the steps taken by the previous government, including reservation of five per cent job quota in all federal government services… and declaration of August 11 as Minorities’ Day. The present assembly and government have not been able to implement these decisions,” Tahseen said.
On May 9, 2014, he said, Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan had announced the government’s policy regarding minorities’ rights.
“Will the government inform us about the steps taken to curb hate literature?”
“On January 28, 2014, the Constitution Amendment Bill was presented in the National Assembly to increase the number of seats reserved for minorities from 10 to 15. The bill sought adjustment of the quota as per ratio of the population of minorities. No action has been taken on the bill,” Tahseen said.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 20th, 2014.
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