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Formation of parliament standing committees for minorities proposed

25 January, 2014

LAHORE: The participants of a panel discussion with provincial leadership of political parties stressed the need of implementing constitutional and international guarantees protecting the rights of religious minorities in Pakistan.

The provincial leaders representing political parties opined this at a panel discussion about the Right of Expression, Association, Assembly and Thought (REAT) and Religious Freedoms.

They urged for bringing amendments in the Constitution of Pakistan to equally teat minorities in all respects.

They also endorsed and supported the idea of establishing Minority Rights Commission in Pakistan. South Asia Partnership-Pakistan (SAP-PK) organised the discussion at a local hotel on Friday.

Pakistan Peoples' Party (PPP)'s central leader Naveed Chaudhry, PPP Punjab President MPA Faiza Malik, PPP Minority Wing Punjab President Pervaiz Rafiq, Human Rights wing Chairperson Bushra Malik, Jamat-e-Islami (JI) Punjab General Secretary Nazir Ahmed Janjua, JI Ameer Lahore Mian Maqsood Ahmed, PML-N Youth Wing Punjab President Ghulam Hussain Shahid, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf Minority Wing Punjab President MPA Shunila Ruth and members of civil society organisations participated in this discussion.

Naveed Chaudhry said that minorities from Pakistan were migrating due to the increasing extremism and intolerance. He urged that extremism should be eradicated from society to save everyone in general and minorities in particular. He also suggested addressing ignorance from society.

Ghulam Hussain Shahid said that all political parties should raise their voice on the floor of the house to bring amendments in the constitutions so that complaints of minorities could be addressed and their rights in all respects could be ensured. Pervaiz Rafiq said that the Constitution of Pakistan which is a basic document to run the state should be reviewed and minorities should be given their rights in the context of a speech which Quaid-e-Azam delivered on August 11, 1947 when he said that state has no business with religion, Shahid added.

Nazir Janua said that JI's manifesto aimed to provide complete protection and respect to minorities. Malik urged to change the mindsets and said that behavioural change was essential and need of the hour to establish a balanced society. She also said that the state should play its role in ensuring REAT rights and religious freedoms.

MPA Shunila Ruth also demanded review of the Constitution of Pakistan and said that till this was not addressed there could be no concept of treating minorities on equal footings.

Mian Maqsood Ahmed highlighted minorities' in view of Islam and urged that till everyone's rights was not respected there could be no development in a society.

The discussion was concluded with a suggestion that there should be a standing committee on the rights of minorities in the parliament and provincial assemblies in all the four provinces of the country.

End.

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