Religious minorities especially Christians remain apprehensive as the government shows reluctance to implement the Supreme Court’s ruling regarding minorities in the country. Two years back, country’s apex court had directed the government to ensure fail safe security and protection of the rights of ethnic and religious minorities in the country.
Pakistani church leaders have been expressing concerns over the response exhibited by the government in this regard. While speaking during a research study launch ceremony prominent church leader Bishop Alexander John Malik appreciated the then Chief Justice of Pakistan, while applauding his ruling but at the same time expressed distress over the negligence being displayed regarding the security of minorities.
The research study titled “When Compliance Fails Justice,” is compiled by the Center for Social Justice (CSJ). On November 30, the study was officially launched in a ceremony which was attended by various illustrious church leaders, lawyers and many others. The research included digging into all the follow-up hearings at the Supreme Court. Thus far there have been 10 hearings up to September 2016. While addressing the ceremony most of the speakers, censured “lethargy on the part of the government.” The lawyers pointed fingers at the “unsatisfactory implementation of the verdict.”
The Center for Social Justice in its research findings had made it clear that the federal government has failed to report back on the Supreme Court’s orders. The report explained that Punjab province exhibited a poor show (32 percent) while Balochistan province “made tangible strides” as it crossed 50 percent submission. It was highlighted that neither Federal nor provincial governments set up special bodies for the sake of implementation of the Supreme Court’s ruling.
It was further detailed that none of the five cabinets including federal and four provincial or inter- ministry bodies carried out special efforts to review and chalk out ways to implement the verdict and the reforms prescribed.
“Such rulings are not very common in our country. It was not easy to combine the philosophy of human rights, Islamic justice and minority rights. Finally, we got justice but non-compliance frustrated us. The church is affected when its people are affected,” said Bishop Alexander John Malik.
“We desperately need a [national] council to monitor our interests. The security of churches is still a big concern; it is common to see policemen dozing on duty or playing mobile phone games during Sunday services,” Bishop Malik added.
Peter Jacob, Director of Centre for Social Justice stated: “Nobody questioned the officials about the flawed security for the churches in Youhanabad. The failure of all four provincial governments to establish a task force to secure places of worship led to attacks on minority communities because of their weakness and lethargy.”
“I hope the implementation of the 2014 ruling can strengthen the whole church which has suffered both physically and economically in recent decades. This is the only direction for a peaceful Pakistan,” he added.
On June 2014, Supreme Court of Pakistan in its epic ruling had directed the Federal government to establish a National Council for the rights of minorities. At the same time the Apex Court ordered all the four provincial governments to form special task forces to uphold and nurture religious tolerance, protect minorities’ places of worship and carry out operations against hate speech, inciters of violence and other such measures.