NA gives red light to minorities’ rights protection bill

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Bill seeking adequate provisions for providing protection to the religious minorities in the country has been turned down by the National Assembly of Pakistan. Details emerged that NA’s Committee on Human Rights and Law in its formal meeting has declined the proposed bill about protection of rights of minorities in during a formal meeting.

Minorities in Pakistan  

This bill was brought under discussion after receiving from House. The bill titled “Protection on Minority Rights” was moved privately by a Hindu lawmaker. Mutheda Qaumi Movement’s MNA Sanjay Perwani has presented the bill, MNA Sanjay himself is member of National Assembly’s Committee on Human Rights and Law.

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This Committee consists of one member from Jamat Islami JI, one from JUI (F), one from MQM, Two from Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf, three from Pakistan Peoples’ Party and twelve from ruling Pakistan Muslim League (N).

The bill was intended to ensure implementation of 2014’s verdict from the Supreme Court of Pakistan. Following the deadly suicide terrorist strikes at Peshawar’s All Saints Church, the apex court had directed the government to endure fail safe security of the religious minorities in the country. Supreme Court’s ruling has not been implemented thus far , while the government has not taken any action in compliance with the SC’s decision.

Followed by dismissal of the minorities’ rights protection bill Professor Anjum James Paul, Chairman of Pakistan Minorities Teacher Association has voiced strong disapproval and has condemned the rejection of proposed bill by National Assembly’s Committee. He remarked that rejection of this bill is a blatant violation of the verdict of the Supreme Court of Pakistan.

At the same time condemnation was heaped upon the dismissal by Dr. Nazir S Bhatti, President of Pakistan Christian Congress (PCC) stated that rejection of this bill is clear hint that Government of Pakistan is overlooking the plight of the non-Muslim Pakistanis and is not sternly thinking about protection of religious freedom and rights of religious minorities of Pakistan.

Previously on June 19, 2014 the Apex Court passed its judgment regarding the case of its judgment in Suo Motu case of the All Saints Church bombings. The Supreme Court directed the Federal Government to institute a National Council for minorities’ rights. This verdict was authored by then Chief Justice of Pakistan Justice Tassaduq Hussain Jillani.

“The function of the said Council should inter alia be to monitor the practical realization of the rights and safeguards provided to the minorities under the Constitution and law. The Council should also be mandated to frame policy recommendations for safeguarding and protecting minorities’ rights by the Provincial and Federal Government”, read judgment.

The 32-page judgment further stated: “A Special Police Force be established with professional training to protect the places of worship of minorities.” It further 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.”

“Appropriate curricula be developed at school and college levels to promote a culture of religious and social tolerance. 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,” said the Apex Court in its ruling which was widely welcomed by the minorities in the country.

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