Building trust: Government Citizen Forum puts spotlight on minority rights

Home secretary says new schemes to ensure good governance in the pipeline

Our Correspondent May 21, 2015

PESHAWAR: To strengthen trust between government institutions and the public, Government Citizen Forum (GCF) held a meeting with Home Secretary Arbab Arif at the home department in the provincial capital on Thursday.

The meeting was attended by police, Civil Secretariat officials as well as Christian, Sikh and Hindu representatives.

Forum members raised a number of problems faced by non-Muslims who live in Peshawar. According to members, minorities feel insecure in the city even though they had been provided adequate security in their places of worship. Some of them had also been targeted in the past.

Flurry of abuse

Rubina Masih, a participant, said Christians had faced discrimination and had also been neglected.

Sardar Gorpal Singh, a Sikh leader, said security concerns loomed large as members of his community had fallen victim to target killing and kidnapping for ransom.

“A large number of shops belonging to my family members were destroyed during recent anti-encroachment drives in the city,” he said. “The relevant authorities did not account for the fact that we had bought these shops in the 1980s.”

Other participants also complained of police harassment. According to some forum members, police had started raiding their houses every morning and asks them whether they were the legal owners of the property.

Meanwhile, a group of NGO workers and civil society members voiced concerns over steps taken to evict them from their offices. The group said they were continuously being asked to vacate the premises as it was located in a residential area and could not be used for commercial purposes.

Addressing grievances

Arif assured members complaints cells had already been put in place to address such grievances.

He added new ideas and schemes to ensure good governance are currently in the pipeline.

The home secretary added there was a pressing need to foster trust between public institutions and the general public.

“This is essential to ensure good governance and develop stronger communication between public institutions and people,” he added.

The meeting was held with assistance from Aitebaar, a four-year UKAID-funded programme, implemented in collaboration with the K-P government.

It works with the government and policy makers to initiate reforms in the provision of security and justice.

Published in The Express Tribune, May 22nd, 2015. 


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