Minority woes: As problems rise, no solution in sight

Minorities’ issues, problems increasing in absence of proper legislation, says MNA, speakers

Our Correspondent November 22, 2014

ISLAMABAD: The number and nature of issues and problems facing minorities have been increasing for the last seven years as proper legislation to address them has not been forthcoming.

This was said by Dr Ramesh Kumar Vankwani, a Member of National Assembly (MNA) from the ruling Pakistan Muslim League- Nawaz (PML-N), Dr Ramesh Kumar Vankwani said this while speaking at a seminar on “Status of Minorities, Role of Communities and State” organised by South Asian Free Media Association (SAFMA) here on Friday.

He observed that all religions taught respect for other faiths, but minorities had failed to get equal rights in Pakistan. He said influential people were forcefully converting Hindu girls in interior Sindh — where he is from — and urged the government, which he is a part of, to take steps to counter such attempts from Muslim majority in the country.

“A Hindu temple in Tando Muhammad Khan was
set on fire today,” he revealed, adding that it is the fifth incident since March this year.

He noted that no FIR has been lodged under the blasphemy laws, while explaining that under PPC 295, any person who desecrates any place of worship would be arrested and prosecuted.

He suggested that the government should set up a parliamentary committee to discuss issues related to minorities. He revealed that around 5,000 Hindus migrate from Pakistan to India every year, before giving examples of the forced conversions of Aneli, 13, and Kiran, 14, both from Nawabshah.  He said Kiran is still missing, while adding that S* a Christian girl, was kidnapped from Defense Housing Authority, Karachi on October 4, 2014, after which she was raped and tortured. Two days back, she was thrown outside her house, he said, while lamenting that although an FIR was lodged against the culprit, he had been released within 24 hours.

“Ninety per cent of MPAs and MNAs elected on minority seats get licenses to open wine shops instead of addressing the problems of minorities,” he said

Romana Bashir executive director of Peace and Development Foundation (PDF), said, “Instead of moving forward, we are clinging to attitudes that inculcate a sense of discord between our communities.”

According to her, the shape of terrorism was changing. “The Objectives Resolution was the first step towards religious discrimination in Pakistan, as the Constitution of Pakistan does not  give equal citizenship rights to minorities. The Kot Radha Kishan incident was an act of savagery which has frightened Christians and other minorities,” she said.

The prevailing education system in the country is spreading hatred in an organised manner, she added while stressing that the education and qualifications of prayer leaders must be thoroughly checked.  She said the police should play an impartial role and the government must protect the lives of people instead of merely distributing cheques to appease them.

Social activist Fauzia Shahid said journalists should be impartial while report on such issues. “The incident of Kot Radha Kishn was not a crime against a single community, but a crime against humanity.  If the government is serious about addressing such issues, it should take legislative steps to control such incidents,” she said.

Published in The Express Tribune, November 22nd, 2014.

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