08/13/2021, 16.55
PAKISTAN
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Lahore: religious minorities demand more rights

by Shafique Khokhar

Rwadari Tehreek held a rally on National Minorities Day to demand an end to discrimination against Christians and Hindus. The group sent recommendations to the government. Religious minorities are not represented due to the shortcomings of Pakistan’s democratic system.

Lahore (AsiaNews) – Rwadari Tehreek, a human rights group, held a rally on Wednesday, 11 August, to mark National Minorities Day, as well as express solidarity with Pakistan’s Christians and Hindus

People of different religious backgrounds took part in the event, which was meant to highlight the difficulties minorities face and ask the government to stop discrimination against them.

Rwadari Tehreek president Samson Salamat expressed his concern about "deep-rooted religious discrimination and forms of inequality, hate speech, instigation and provocations against minorities on the pretext of false blasphemy allegations, and continuous pressure to force Hindu and Christian women and girls to convert.”

Under the circumstances, it is natural that members of religious minorities feel insecure and threatened. What is more, “Their voices remain unheard despite the deteriorating situation of their rights. Minorities demand nothing less than the implementation of the promises made by Quaid-e-Azam (Great Leader) Muhammad Ali Jinnah,” the founder of Pakistan.

In his address to the Constituent Assembly on 11 August 1947, Jinnah promised the same treatment for all citizens regardless of caste, colour or creed. However, in today’s Pakistan, "Discrimination against minorities is institutionalised,” said Salamat, noting that humbler jobs are reserved for Christians and Hindus.

“Solving the issues that matter to minorities can only come through the political process.” In view of this, Rwadari Tehreek presented a series of recommendations to the government.

The group wants National Minorities Day, celebrated on 11 August, to become Equal Citizenship Day. The blasphemy legislation, which is abused to settle personal scores, should be revised. An independent commission of inquiry should assess cases of forced conversion; and the government should come up with a de-radicalisation plan to limit hate speech.

"It is a real shame that religious minorities are not represented in the corridors of power due to the shortcomings of Pakistan’s democratic system," Salamat lamented. “There is no direct election; parties choose their representatives, so Christians and Hindus have no voice in politics”.

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