Minorities must be protected and those guilty of killing a Christian couple in Punjab over alleged blasphemy earlier this month must be brought to justice, urged speakers at a day-long conference.
During a discussion called Consultative Meeting with Civil Societies held by the South Asia Partnership’s (SAP) Pakistan chapter at a local hotel on Wednesday, speakers appealed the Ulema to raise awareness on the rights of minorities in their sermons and create harmony between people of all faiths.
Activists of different organisations from Chitral, Swat, Peshawar as well as Kurram and Mohmand agencies were in attendance. They included Advocate Zahir Shah Mohmand, Ijaz Durrani, Taimur Shah, Munir Bangash, Shams, Radesh Singh Tony, Haroon Sarbdiyal, Augston Jacob as well as SAP’s Sanam Ara, Nusrat Ara and Shahida Shah.
They appreciated the provincial government’s efforts, saying a bill for the protection of minorities’ property was being considered by the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Assembly. The speakers pointed out that a bill about deeniat (theology) was also in the works.
Haroon Sarbdiyal highlighted there was hate material in school syllabi and demanded its immediate removal. Speaking for the Hindu community, he said its members were first and foremost Pakistanis. He pointed out their forefathers sacrificed for this country without a moment’s hesitation.
Meanwhile, Radesh Singh, a representative of the Sikh community, said that of the 322 gurdwaras in Pakistan, only 15 were functional.
Speaking about the problems of the Christian community, Augston Jacob said the wall of a church in the cantonment area of the city was razed by a storm around three months ago, but authorities were delaying the reconstruction.
Minorities’ representatives demanded the government resolve their issues on a priority basis and grant them equal rights according to the Constitution and the protection guaranteed by Islam. They said it was imperative to ensure their religious freedom and peaceful co-existence.
The activists vowed to continue raising their voice for the rights of non-Muslims on every platform. Shahid Shah, Sanam Ara and Nusrat Ara gave a detailed presentation on the occasion.
Published in The Express Tribune, November 20th, 2014.
Comments are moderated and generally will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive.
For more information, please see our Comments FAQ