Minorities demands to include rights and freedom of expression as part of their party manifesto

Peshawar: The representatives of different non-Muslims at “Meeting” minorities have demanded of all political parties to include rights and freedom of expression as part of their party manifesto in order to ensure all equal rights to minorities.

The meeting was titled, “Penal Discussion with Political Parties on Religion Freedom and Human Rights” organized by South Asia Partnership Pakistan (SAP-PK) held here at a local hotel on Wednesday. Besides large number people of Sikh community, Hindus and representatives of different political parties participated in the meeting while that was part of the series of the activities regarding minorities’ rights.

Those spoke on the occasion including Sardar Charan Jeet Singh, Harun Sarb Diyal, a chairman of All Pakistan Hindu Rights Movement (APHRM), Abd=ul-Jalil Jan of Jamiat Ullema-e-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F), Mukhat Bach, a provincial president of National Party (NP), Bushra Gohar affiliated with Awami National Party (ANP), Tariq Khan of Qaumi Watan Party (QWP), Rahmat Salam Khattak of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa General Secretary of Pakistan Muslim league-Nawaz (PML-N), women leaders of Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf (PTI) and Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) and Shahida Shah from SAP-PK who thoroughly discussed the ordeals of the non-Muslims in the country.

Rejecting the commission formed at government level for minorities, the participants particularly non-Muslims said that there was no representative of the minorities in the commission, which they added could not resolve their issues including education, family laws, five percent quota, protection, holy places occupied by the grabbers and others.

They said although the Constitution guaranteed them equal rights, they found the implementation purely cosmetic, resulting in token representation of minorities in the national and provincial assemblies. They also demanded a separate electoral process in the upcoming elections whereby minorities could choose their own candidates through ballot.

They resolved that the staunch support for religious freedom and giving for constitutional rights to non-Muslim communities in the country. They viewed that both the minorities and Muslims apparently affected by terrorism and extremism, which also earned a bad name of Pakistan in the rest of the world. The participants highlighted the issues being faced by non-Muslims communities, particularly relating of quota in parliament, education and health sectors, economic deprivation, and others.

The panellists strongly supported the demand of minorities to give them all due right, especially freedom to non-Muslims residing in Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) and in settled areas to perform their religious obligations in a freely manner. They also urged the Federal and provincial government to make amendments in laws, relating inheritance and marriage with consultation of representatives of minorities, and asked to give possession right of property of non-Muslims in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) in order to live life according to the constitution of the country.

Leaders of political parties also agreed that they would put suggestions and recommendations of religious minorities before leadership of their respective parties to raise voice for minorities at high level. They also pledged the support to jointly work for protection of right of Non-Muslims.

Earlier, Regional Programme Coordinator SAP-PK Shahida Shah gave a detailed presentation regarding minorities’ problems and national and international guarantees provided to them.

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