National Commission for Minorities: Panel meets to review national inter-faith policy

Top slot remains vacant as members fail to reach consensus


Qamar Zaman January 14, 2015
Top slot remains vacant as members fail to reach consensus. STOCK IMAGE

ISLAMABAD: The National Commission for Minorities (NCM) constituted a three-member committee on Tuesday to review a draft of the national inter-faith policy but once again failed to reach a decision regarding the appointment of a permanent chairman.

The committee was constituted during a meeting – the second during the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz’s (PML-N) tenure – chaired by Minister for Religious Affairs and Interfaith Harmony Sardar Muhammad Yousaf. JUI-F MNA Asiya Nasir, PML-N MNAs Isphanyar M. Bhandara and Qari Roohullah Madni were nominated to the committee, the ministry said.

The committee has been tasked with reviewing the draft on the inter-faith policy and put forward recommendations in the next meeting, likely to take place next month.

Sources told The Express Tribune that “even the members of the commission do not seem the least bit interested in meetings as the previous meeting, scheduled for November 13, 2014, was postponed due to lack of quorum.”

The PPP’s Ramesh Lal, JUI-F’s Asiya Nasir, PML-N’s Isphanyar M. Bhandara, Qari Roohullah Madni, Bishop of Lahore Rev. Irfan Jamil, Sardar Ajeet Singh, and Mehardad Yousaf, along with representatives of the Ministries of Interior and Law and Justice, Capital Administration and Development and Council of Islamic Ideology attended the meeting on Tuesday. PML-N MNA Bhawan Das and Allama Talib could not attend the meeting.

“The appointment of a new chairman was on the agenda for the meeting but committee members were divided on the decision, with some proposing the name of Minister for Religious Affairs Sardar Mohammad Yousaf as permanent chairman of the commission,” sources said. “Asiya Nasir opposed the proposal, saying the minister had a lot of responsibilities and might not be able to spare time before and during the Hajj season,” sources added.

“The minister is interested in the position of permanent chairman, but minority members want a chairman from their own community,” a participant of the meeting told The Express Tribune on the condition of anonymity.

Earlier, Minister for Religious Affairs and Interfaith Harmony Sardar Mohammad Yousaf said the present government had re-constituted the National Commission for Minorities to promote interfaith harmony and address the grievances of minority communities.

Through the inter-faith policy, the NCM will address grievances of members of any minority community, ensure that churches, shrines, temples, gurdwaras and other places of worship are maintained.

Published in The Express Tribune, January 14th, 2015.

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