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August 11, 2018

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Reforms to end religious discrimination demanded

Reforms to end religious discrimination demanded

Expressing concerns over the dangerous trends of religious discrimination and violence against religious minorities, who are being targeted because of their faith, the Rwadari Tehreek, on National Minority Day 2018, have demanded reforms to end religious discrimination and ensure effective political participation and representation of the minorities.

With reference to the famous speech of the father of the nation, Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah, in the Constituent Assembly on August 11, 1947, the PPP’s previous government had declared August 11 as National Minority Day in 2009.

In a statement issued in connection with the day, Rwadari Tehreek Chairman Samson Salamat said that socially Pakistani citizens who belonged to minority communities were forced to do menial jobs as sanitary workers, domestic servants and brick-kiln workers. He said those workers were highly discriminated against, but nothing concrete had been done to stop discrimination against them and for their uplift.

“The resolution of the issues of the minorities can be ensured through the political process; however, this is very unfortunate that power corridors are even without the true and genuine representation of the religious minorities due to ineffective representation at all tiers of the democratic system of Pakistan, including in local governments, provincial assemblies and the National Assembly, because the minority voters were not being asked about their choice for their representation, but rather their representatives are picked up by the political parties,” Salamat said.

He demanded a constitutional reforms package in consultation with the religious minorities, saying that the civil society should help bring discrimination and biases to an end and ensure effective political participation and representation of the minorities.

An independent commission on minorities should be constituted at federal and provincial levels through an act of parliament, which should have the powers of a tribunal in incidents of violations of the minority rights, he said and further suggested that mechanisms should be evolved for the effective implementation of the Supreme Court judgment of 2014 on the protection of minorities.

The laws that were being misused to instigate violence should be reviewed, as this had led to the destruction of lives and properties of people belonging to the religious minorities, the Rwadari Tehreek chief said.

An independent inquiry commission should be set up to look into the issue of forced conversions of women and girls belonging to religious minorities, and the findings of the commission should be made public and those involved in forced conversions should be apprehended, he said, also demanding a law to ban forced conversions.

He further demanded that an effective de-radicalisation plan should be made, which should include a ban on hate speech, elimination of biased material from the curriculum, a ban and action against all terrorist outfits, their financiers, facilitators and supporters, and a de-weaponisation policy to stop gun and bomb culture.

The Rwadari Tehreek is a social movement launched in 2015 to counter intolerance, hate speech and violent extremism, and to enhance the scope of respect for diversity, especially religious plurality.

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