By Ashiknaz Khokhar, Human Rights Activist
Pakistan is about to complete 75 years of its existence, the government and citizens are also making arrangements to celebrate this day. Like every year, this year also there will be many programs on the media in which patriotism will be expressed through national songs. And again the question will arise that what was the purpose of creating Pakistan? What have we lost and found in these 75 years? Especially if we look at the under privileged sections of Pakistan, it will be easier to assess the journey of these 75 years.
In 2009, the Government of Pakistan declared 11th August as National Minority Day at the national level in honor of all the services and sacrifices of the minorities. The Minority Day was also commemorated to encourage the minorities living in Pakistan who worked tirelessly to make Pakistan strong and stable.
In the First Constituent Assembly on August 11, 1947, the Quaid-e-Azam had said that “You are free. You are free to go to your temples. You are free to go to your mosques and to go to any of your places of worship in the state of Pakistan.” For. You belong to any religion, caste or race. The state has nothing to do with it”.
The purpose of celebrating this day is to take care of the fundamental rights, protection of life and property, religious freedom and self-respect of the religious minorities living in Pakistan. At the same time, think about their unsolved problems and proceed towards their solution.
In these 75 years, where religious minorities have played a key role in progress Pakistan, we should not ignore their many problems. Religious minorities are victims of discrimination in Pakistan who are deprived of opportunities to advance in society because of their religious identity. On Minority Day, I would like to make some recommendations here which the Pakistan government needs to work on seriously:
- Introduce adequate, effective and mandatory safeguards to protect the rights, freedoms and interests of minorities. Include minorities in the national mainstream at all levels of governance and decision-making, with a special focus on minority women.
- Fully implement the judgment of the Supreme Court of Pakistan on 19 June 2014 (Jeelani Judgment) without any delay.
- Raise public awareness of issues of concern, including in the public and private sectors, mobilize political will and resources to address all forms of religious discrimination, and strengthen the human rights principles of non-discrimination and equality.
- Ensure open, constructive and respectful discussion of ideas as well as inter-faith, inter-faith and inter-cultural dialogue at local and national levels to play a positive role in combating religious hatred, incitement and violence.
- Combat religious intolerance through the exercise of the right to freedom of opinion and expression and fully respect the freedom to seek, receive and impart information.
- Take bold steps to introduce comprehensive anti-discrimination measures, legislation, policy and administrative measures to protect and promote the human rights of religious minorities, including minority women and girls who are often subjected to abduction, rape, forced conversion and marriage ( young age).
- Strongly discourage and condemn all incidents, statements and attitudes of religious intolerance at the government level.
- Ensure an accurate count of minorities during the population census.
- Implement The Ministry of Religious Minority through independent and independent legislation.*