Equal Rights or Might is Right?
By – Shamim Masih
ISLAMABAD: Chuadhry Nisar Ali Khan, Interior Minister said, if religious beliefs of others are not given respect then it will only promote terrorism. People of Paris should have protested against the cartoons the same way they protested against the attack on Charlie Hebdo, he added. Showing disrespect, being insensitive and ridiculing any religion or faith certainly cannot be termed as freedom of speech which may invite different reactions leading to what happened in France. However, Pakistani Interior Minister cannot preach others as not only its own education curriculum contains hatred element for other religions which needs to be addressed first as the same has resulted in violence against minority communities and treating them second class citizens as well. Mr. Nisar should first establish this norm in Pakistan and then preach for others. For peaceful coexistence and harmony in the country, all should respect other religions and avoid doing anything that hurts or insults other people. Disrespecting others’ religion is not ‘freedom of speech’. We know how other religions are being disrespected through school education, law and in society in the country, isn’t hypocrisy?
According to the media reports, most recently, Punjab Govt. planned to implicate Joseph Francis, right activist in Youhanabad case. Earlier many Christians from Youhanabad was booked in lynching of two Muslims after deadly suicide bomb attacks on two churches which killed more than 20 Christians and many were injured. According to CLASS, many are still missing and police did not produce them in the courts. CLASS had filed a writ petition no. 8344/15 in the Lahore High Court – LHC in which police did not produce the detainee Parviaz John, Yousaf Kamran and his Shaleem Yousaf. The learned judge LHC disposed off the writ petition with the direction to file a petition under section 22 A & 22 B for the registration of FIR before the Sessions Judge, Lahore with the power of Justice and Peace against the concerned SHO, DSP and SSP investigation. After the judgment from the learned court, according to the media reports, Punjab Government announced to arrest Mr. Francis for blaming Sharif family responsible of Youhanabad incident and ordered to take action against Christians’ NGOs in Youhanabad and around the vicinity. Punjab govt. also blamed that Mr. Francis instigate the mass to violate which resulted road blockage and ransacking of Metro bus railings.
According to Joseph Francis, he was admitted in the hospital during this period and secondly, Pakistani are witnessed to many such types of protests which not only resulted ransacking but in August 2014, we have seen that Pakistan Tahreek e Insaf – PTI and PAT remained sitting on red zone area but also attacked Parliament house and PTV buildings. Mr. Nisar and CM Punjab, can you tell me, have you ever announced to arrest Imran Khan and Tahir ul Qadri? I am not supporting people to violate the law but wanted equality and rule of law should be same. After the assassination of late Banazir Bhutto, protesters not only destroyed public properties but also looted ATM machines in many cities of the country. How many of them were detained and punished?
In Gojra, Shanti nager, Mardan, Joseph Colony many churches were burnt and how many of them were punished so far? Mr. Nisar, learn to give respect to other religion and punish those who burnt the Christian couple alive in Kot Radha Kishan, and 8 family members include children in Gojra. Aslam Parvaiz Sohtra and Sohail Johnson are being targeted for being outspoken for the rights of community they belong to. Daughter of Aslam Parvez Sohtra said her father was patient and authorities didn’t allow the family to see him. It is just simply planted and Punjab govt. is doing it to curb the voice of Christians. This is very unfortunate that some Christian politicians are behind it, certainly they will meet their ends.
The latest US Commission on International Religious Freedom report also noted that “Pakistan represents one of the worst situations in the world for religious freedom”. The report on Pakistan said that the country continued to experience chronic sectarian violence targeting Shias, Christians, Ahmadis, and Hindus. Despite positive rulings by the Supreme Court, the government failed to provide adequate protection to targeted groups or to prosecute perpetrators and those calling for violence. The foundation of Pakistan was laid on the principles of peace, tolerance and religious freedom. But this is unfortunate that after 68 years of independence, women lack and minorities lack equality, religious dissenters are persecuted are political freedoms are curtailed. How can we think of becoming a great nation without giving freedom? Human rights defenders and journalists are staunched. The HRCP report for 2014 expectedly paints a grim picture of the state of human rights in Pakistan. Some of the highlights the report quotes are shocking. The number of people killed in terrorist attacks in 2014 was 1723 while 3143 were injured. Many of these were targeted 210 people lost their lives in sectarian attacks, 12 doctors, 13 lawyers and 45 members of polio vaccination teams fall victim to the killers’ bullets. The report speaks not just of the conditions of insecurity of human life we live under, it also notes that people’s freedoms, thought, association, religious beliefs or conscience have been under attack.

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