Round Table Legislation On; “Protection of the Rights and Security of Religious Minorities”

Pakistan as a Multi-cultural diverse society where various ethnics and religious groups exists as a one nation. Pakistan’s founder ‘Qaid-e-Azam’ Mohammad Ali Jinnah dreamt of a country which would be Islamic, at the same time secular. The basic idea is behind the creation of Pakistan underscored peace, tolerance, harmony, security, welfare and cooperation among the people of all religions. Unfortunately, today Pakistan is counted among the most dangerous places to live due to on-going extremism and terrorism. The scale of violation based upon religion and sectarian is on high rise and the all citizens whether Minorities or Majorities feel fear and unsafe at every moment.

Now a days, the religious regimes are dominant on the state in the every hook and corner. In a such, terrifying and suffocating atmosphere, the native and indigenous peoples are more unsafe, vulnerable and victimize due to lacking of organize social and political ownership and leadership. The planned distinction of minority and majority has created isolation and uncertainty among Minorities. As a result, these are still being targeted on religious extremism which is day by day going on rise and continue. Due to growing religious intolerance and dominancy, the lives, families, properties, business, respect and values of minorities are of course unsafe and ultimately, they decide to leave their homeland.

Pakistan’s religious minorities which are being targeted includes; Christians, Hindus, Sikhs, Kalashi, Shias, Ahmedias, and many others. The desecration, suicide bombing attacks and fire on worship places and colonies of minority communities, targeted killing of religious scholars, kidnapping for ransom and extortion from Hindu traders, blasphemy charges, forcible conversion and forcible collection of Jaziya tax from Sikh traders in Punjab and in KPK, all are alarming worsen human rights situation in the country. While, the government, its law enforcement agencies and judiciary is absolutely failed in providing and ensuring their protection. Ultimately, it is open ended that government is itself involve and responsible for all happening with minorities here in Pakistan.

Looking Forward:
Minorities have great contribution for the development of Pakistan through serving in private and government institutions. Their contribution in the national economy through running large and small trade, business, industries and companies by Hinuds, Shias and Ahmedias who paying the taxes and royalties to increase in national wealth. While the schedule caste Hindus are associated in agricultures and livestock rearing. Their contribution for growing and providing us food, meat and milk production. While, the Christians community is also engaged in government and private sector and most of them are associated with water and sanitation work. The sanitary work for cleaning our streets and drainage system is also leads to great contribution. So, there is need of the hour to mainstreaming and taking them on one page by showing our sympathies, solidarity and harmony and realizing them that they are not alone. We should also respect their sentiments and listen their grievances and then discuss their concerns at various levels of decision making of the state through minimizing religious intolerance, growing violence and injustice in order to ending isolation and uncertainty among religious minorities. The government, its line departments and authorities especially its parliamentarians should also be make responsible to reform their existing policies and certain laws for providing protection on first and top priority.
Minorities in all parts of the world continue to face serious threats, challenges, rights violation, discrimination and racism and are frequently excluded from taking fully part in the economic, social and political life of their countries.

On the basis of above, Pakistan was ranked as the world’s top country for major increases in threats to Minorities, by Minority Rights Group International, a watchdog organization in 2007. The group also listed Pakistan as seventh on the list of 10 most dangerous countries for Minorities, after Somalia, Sudan, Afghanistan, Iraq, Myanmar and Congo. At the same time, U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, has named Pakistan as one of the 13 countries where violence against Religious Minorities is common and condoned or supported by the government.

For evidence, it has a notable history of violence based on religion and faith and many religious minorities have been killed in the recent history of Shanti Nagar, Gojra, Badami Bagh and Peshawar Church Attack. The serial arson attacks on a Dharamshala in Larkana on March 16, a Hanuman temple in Hyderabad was desecrated on March 28, Faqir Par Braham’s Ashram in Nagarparkar robbed on March 31 and Hanuman Temple was set on fire in Mirpur Bathoro, Thatta on April 03 of the current year.

From beginning to till date, it is observed that the society is still confused and divided on the issue of faith and belief. Although, the historic speech of Mr. Jinnah who made on 11 August, 1947 and the Article: 20 and it’s (a) and (b) for Freedom to profess religion and to manage religious institutions which clearly permit to religious minorities to independently practice their religion, faith and belief. However, majority of religion practitioners are dominant on the society who misuse Islamic Ideology for their interests and frequently violate the rights of faith and belief of other religion followers and creates barriers in their religious and cultural celebrations which further creates distinctions and abominations.

In our societies, the discrimination on the basis of religion or belief is also seriously affecting the ability of religious minorities to access their rights to education, healthcare, residency and employment and to participate in the democratic process. The discriminatory legislation and state practices provide a legitimizing framework for wider discrimination in society. Deprivation, social and political exclusion and violence towards minorities are the inevitable results of systematic discrimination and threaten the social fabric of the society.

Legislation on Religious Minorities of Pakistan:
Today, minority communities face new challenges, including legislation, policies and practices that may unjustly impede or even violate minority rights. We recognize that respect for freedom of religion or belief is a common good and a prerequisite for the democratic and peaceful progress of human society. Widespread and grievous violations of this freedom affect the stability, security and development of many states and severely impact upon the daily lives of individuals, families and communities, especially their peaceful coexistence which demands mutual respect, tolerance and cooperation among Muslims and Non-muslins as a one nation and an equal citizens of Pakistan.

So, it is the need of the hour to mutually call and invite to all civil society activists and related organizations to join us at Round Table Legislation on; “Protection of the Rights and Security of Religious Minorities”.

The parliamentarians, legislators, policy/law makers, elected ministers, religious minorities, rights and peace activists, media journalists and other activists of civil society sit together to discuss, formulate and regulate new policies, laws, programs and best practices that protect the rights and ensure the security of religious minorities by its local level execution.

The legislation want to identifying approaches, local, provincial and national policies, programs and other initiatives and friendly practices for the protection of the rights and security of religious minorities. Respect for minority rights definitely help out in achieving stable, peaceful, progressive and prosperous societies, in which human rights, development and security, are struggled, achieved and promoted by all.

The Overall Goal:
The overall goal of this legislation is to contribute towards tolerant and peaceful co-existence in Karachi where all human beings living together peacefully and friendly and exercise and enjoy their rights of faith and belief with dignity and freedom.

The Objectives are:
• To promote peace, tolerance and religious harmony
• To identifying and suggest approaches, local, provincial and national policies, programs and other initiatives and best practices which protect the rights and ensure the security of religious minorities
• To contribute for minimizing religious intolerance and to protect religious minorities from discrimination in any sphere of life on the basis of religion or belief; force in matters of religion or belief
• To collect civil society recommendation for protecting religious minorities and to send to provincial and federal government and take proper follow-up as to reduce isolation and uncertainty among religious minorities