WASHINGTON: The future of minorities in Pakistan discussed in a forum organized by the U.S Commission of International Religious Freedom.
The U.S. Commission of International Religious Freedom USCIRF organized a conference identifying the anticipated religious freedom for minorities in Pakistan. This conference was held on 18th of July, 2013 attended by International Christian Voice Canada. The prospects of religious freedom for the religious minorities in Pakistan were elaborately brought under discussion.
Delegates and representatives from human rights organizations and different faiths communities attended this event to share their view on the future of Pakistan’s religious freedom. These religious minorities that were represented at this forum were Christian, Hindu, Ammadhiyya, and Shia communities. The discussion started with welcoming words from Mr. Thames- Director of Policy and Research, USCIRF predominantly, introducing the part of the USCIRF while briefing the attendants about the forum.
Attending the forum, Mr. Shuja Nawaz, Director of the SouthAsiaCenter, Atlantic Council kicked off the proceedings with an introductory speech in relation to wide-ranging struggle and challenges Pakistan is facing in the present day.
At this occasion, Chairman of International Christian Voice, Mr. Peter Bhatti, spoke for the Christians of Pakistan. He asserted that,” Pakistan was created as a progressive and democratic state which was the vision of the founding father of Pakistan, Qauid- Azam Mohammed Ali Jinnah. Jinnah wanted to have a free and equal state regardless of caste creed or religion which he stated on his first constituent assembly speech on August 11, 1947.”
National representative, of Ahmadiyya Muslim Community in USA, Mr. Qasim Rashid drew attention to the nuisance the Ahmadiyya community is going through in Pakistan. He said,” the Ahmadiyaa community is facing problems institutionally and constitutionally. He presented several examples of the persecution faced by this community.”
Policy and Legal Affairs Official of the Universal Muslim Association of America (UMAA), Mr. Rahat Husain underscored the mounting issues the Shia community has been facing in Pakistan in recent times. He said that,” members of the Shia community are being murdered in Pakistan and that this needs to end.” He stressed the government of Pakistan to take effectual steps to prevent the homicide of Shia Muslims in Pakistan.
Mr. Jay Kansara, Associate Director of Hindu American Foundation, stood for the Hindu community and said that,” forceful conversions and rape of Hindu women is very common in Pakistan. Such crimes should be stopped and that Hindu’s in Pakistan are in need of empowerment.”
Subsequent to presentation of and sharing of thoughts from all the attending delegates a question and answer session was held engaging all speakers plain and brief answers to all questions. Preceding the session the conference was concluded with a speech from Mr. Knox thanking all the participants for taking part and attending the event.