Islamabad: By, ABID SIDDIQUE CHAUDHRY
The ruling party has no intention of promoting and protecting the rights of minorities, said Malik Rehmat Manzoor, the PPP minorities’ wing president.
Prime Minister Imran Khan’s government has dropped the minorities’ members from the federal cabinet since taking power.
This is the third bill in the current tenure rejected by the lawmakers. The rejection of the current bill by the Senate body shows that majority people do not want to protect minorities, creating a sense of insecurity in non-Muslim citizens.
The Senate Standing Committee on Religious Affairs and Interfaith Harmony rejected a private bill regarding the protection of the rights of minorities. A committee chaired by Senator Abdul Ghafoor Haideri said that the existing laws were already providing unprecedented religious freedom to minorities. A majority of senators supported his point of view thus the bill was rejected.
The protection of the Rights of Religious Minorities Bill was presented by Pakistan Muslim League–Nawaz (PML-N) Senator Javed Abbasi. He said that the minorities should have the opportunities to go their sacred religious places in a free environment.
The PML-N senator said in many cases young girls are forcibly converted and state of Pakistan should not allow such acts. ‘‘We do not treat minorities in Pakistan like PM Modi is doing in India,’’ he added.
Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) Senator Krishna Kumari Kolhi said that they were not seeking legislation on speeches in the Senate, but on the issue of inciting people to kill and harm others. Later she walked out of the meeting in protest after the bill failed to pass through committee. ‘‘You (should) reject it (bill) to show that you do not want to protect minorities,’’ she said. ‘‘I can’t sit on such a committee.’’
Earlier two Christian parliamentarians Naveed Aamir Jeeva (MNA) and Khalil Tahir Sindhu (MPA) faced the same situation for presenting minorities’ rights protection bills.
According to the reports, since 2018, at least 31 non-Muslim citizens were tortured and killed, 58 attacked and injured, more than two dozen blasphemy cases have been registered while 7 worships places have been attacked.
Mr. Manzoor said that this refusal does not stop our will and political campaign. We are seeking the necessary consent and will undertake to submit it again once PPP will come into power.
He called out the Christian community for staying mum on the matter.
According to the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), Pakistan ranks among the world’s worst violators of religious freedom. Minorities face high levels of discrimination as well as instances of persecution because of their faith identities.