KARACHI: Relating with National Minorities Day that was recently observed on August 11, speakers at a convention on Saturday advised the implementation of the Supreme Court (SC) directives about the safety of minorities, reformation of the curriculum for fostering tolerance and setting up a commission for the minorities’ rights.
Numerous civil society and minority rights bodies, including the Centre for Social Justice (CSJ), National Commission for Justice and Peace (NCJP), Peoples Commission for Minorities Rights (PCMR), National Human Rights Commission, Peace and Development Foundation, Aurat Foundation and Tehreek-e- Niswan mutually organized the convention at St. Patrick’s auditorium in Karachi.
The convention also manifested the 72nd anniversary of Quaid-e-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah’s famous speech delivered before the constituent assembly of Pakistan on August 11, 1947 that guaranteed equal rights and freedom to all Pakistani people.
Kailash Nath Kohli, Justice (retd) highlighted his concerns over the lack of implementation of the SC orders passed by then Chief Justice Tasadduq Hussain Jillani on June 19, 2014.
He also uttered about the need for reforms in the education system, which included the removal of hate material from the curricula, fixing educational quota for minorities in higher education institutes and expansion of subject options available to the students from minorities, as guaranteed under the Article 22 and free education for all under the Article 25-A of the Constitution of Pakistan.
Peter Jacob, the CSJ executive director and PCMR chairperson said the government should primacies strengthening institutional protection of minority rights by undertaking a series of legal, policy and administrative measures to accommodate and cater to the demands, needs and challenges of the minority communities of Pakistan.
Fr. Saleh Diego, the vicar general and NCJP’s Karachi director, said they were proud to be Pakistanis but it was hurting to see that the matters of the state were being run on the basis of religious discrimination.
“Government must set an example by ensuring rights among Pakistani citizens as Quaid-e-Azam had laid down the foundation of a nation where all Pakistanis, regardless of any discrimination, could enjoy fairness of rights; and serve to promote tolerance and build a prosperous society where religion had nothing to do with the business of the state,” he said.
Academic Dr. Riaz Sheikh expressed about the situation of human rights and minorities rights in Pakistan. He called for the government to take solemn steps to ensure inclusion and implement rights of the minorities to build esteem for religious diversity and tolerance.
Pakistan Peoples Party MPA Anthony Naveed, Tehreek-e-Niswan head and artiste Sheema Kermani and Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan MPA Mangla Sharma also spoke at the convention.
The occasion opened with the national anthem followed by song performances of children from different areas. A Tehreek-e-Niswan theatre team showed a performance on the theme of ‘we are all equal human beings’. The performance meant at fostering a culture of inter-faith and inter-communal harmony and respect for human dignity, regardless of race, religion or ethnicity.
By the ending of the convention, all the participants assembled at the mausoleum of Quaid-e-Azam and held a candlelit vigil with a promise to carry on their struggle for human and minorities’ rights.