Protection of minorities: AGP office seeks progress report from ministries

Asks for compliance with June 19 Supreme Court ruling

Hasnaat Malik November 14, 2014


The office of the Attorney General for Pakistan (AGP) has sought a progress report from all concerned ministries on the implementation of the Supreme Court’s June 19 ruling regarding the protection of minorities’ rights.

“A letter, written by Deputy Attorney General Sohail Mehmood, has been sent to all ministries,” an official from the AGP’s office told The Express Tribune on Thursday. “We have asked the ministries for reports on measures they took to implement the SC ruling,” he said.

“Since the matter is likely to be fixed in the near future, therefore, the representatives of ministries should send their report immediately,” said the letter.

The top court on Monday sent reminders to the prime minister, all four chief ministers, the establishment division, inspectors general and others to submit their reports regarding measures taken to implement its June 19 ruling.

The court, in its ruling, had asked the federal government to constitute a national council for minorities rights. It had also asked the government to form a special task force for the protection of worship places of minority communities.

“A special police force be established with professional training to protect the places of worship of minorities,” said the 32- page judgment, penned by former chief justice Tassaduq Hussain Jillani.

The judgment read that in cases of violation of any of the rights guaranteed under the law or desecration of the places of worship of minorities, the concerned law enforcement 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 June 19 ruling read.

The Supreme Court also asked the concerned quarters to devise appropriate curricula at school and college levels to promote religious tolerance in the country. It asked the federal government to take appropriate steps to ensure that hate speech on social media is discouraged as well.

In view of the statement made by the AGP and additional advocates general of Punjab, Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan regarding the reservation of quota for minorities in the federal and provincial services, the court has also directed the federal and all provincial governments to ensure the enforcement of relevant policy directives towards this end.

Former chief justice Tassaduq Hussain Jillani initiated suo motu proceedings earlier this year, after receiving a letter from the NGO Justice Helpline regarding the suicide attack on All Saints Church in Peshawar which claimed 81 lives.

Published in The Express Tribune, November 14th, 2014.


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