Members from minorities’ communities stated a protest outside the National Press Club, as they chanted their demands. The protesters demanded equal rights for all Pakistanis irrespective of their religious or ethnic backgrounds. They asked for electoral reforms; which will ensure equal rights for them. As they demanded equality, they said that the prohibition of a minority member becoming Prime Minister of President of Pakistan should be done away with.
This protest was organized by Pakistan Minorities’ Alliance (PMA), where members from various religious minorities were present. Speaking on this occasion, Chairman of Pakistan Minorities’ Alliance Mr. Akmal Bhatti said, “Article 25 of the Constitution of Pakistan says that all the citizens of Pakistan are equal and they have equal rights so the discrimination should be stopped against the minorities.”
“Presently, there is a joint electorate system in the country due to which minorities cannot elect their representatives,” he went on to explain. He laid stress upon the need for dual voting rights for minorities. “We should be given the right of dual voting so that we can elect our representatives to address our issues,” he added.
In 2014, a three judge bench of the Supreme Court of Pakistan gave a historic verdict regarding the religious minorities of the country. Members of religious minorities still call for implementation of this verdict, which said: “We find that the incidents of desecration of places of worship of minorities could be warded off if the authorities concerned had taken preventive measures at the appropriate time.
The Court also found that the inaction on the part of law enforcement agencies was on account of the lack of proper understanding of the relevant law. For instance, the Court was surprised when the learned Additional Advocate General, Sindh, on Court query submitted that the desecration of places of worship of minorities was not blasphemous and not an offence under the Pakistan Penal Code.”
“There is a general lack of awareness about minority rights among the people and those entrusted with enforcement of law are also not fully sensitized to this issue either. It needs to be reiterated that under the Constitution minorities have a special status,” the apex court bench ruled.
“Article 20 must then be interpreted to guarantee the rights of the community as well as the right of the individual against those from his own or other religious communities – the ultimate goal being the eradication of religious intolerance in the society.”
“It is time for us as a nation and as individuals to have a moment of reflection, a moment of soul searching and perhaps a moment of reckoning to ask ourselves; have we lived by the pledges made in the Constitution and by the vision of Quaid-e-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah, the founder of this country who in his very first address to the Constituent Assembly on 11.08.1948 said: ‘You are free; you are free to go to your temples. You are free to go to your mosques or to any other place of worship in this State of Pakistan. You may belong to any religion or caste or creed—that has nothing to do with the business of the State.’”