Elimination of Violence/persecution against Religious Minorities
Shamim Masih
ISLAMABAD: There was an International conference in Islamabad on 24-25 November, 2015, to create interfaith harmony and better interaction with religious minorities of the country. It was just public show for the vested interest of close relative of the Federal Minister Sardar Yousaf and some other people. Practically the ruling party Pakistan Muslim League (PML-N) has shutdown the role of Ministry of Interfaith Harmony and religious minorities has been facing same kind of discrimination. Locally people see so little solidarity and harmony but religious extremist with a specific mind set continues to violate basic human rights with impunity. For the past weeks, we saw the continued horrific, religious rights violated daily. I just returned from Distt Faisalabad where a Christian school girl, Sara, 8, has faced tortured and was locked for an hour or so by her head teacher for using toilet which is meant to use by Muslims only. Though this matter was raised in the Senate by the Senator Sharry Rehman and Chairman Senate Raza Rabbani has ordered the inquiry on this issue but there is no result. Local Christian family is pressurized to compromise with the education department. And this issue was dumped to death. Force conversion, kidnapped and rape of minorities women is on and nobody bother to look into this matter. Unfortunately some of Christian representatives are busy to present win- win situation to the west for their vested interests.

Tahir Naveed Chaudhry, chairman Pakistan Minority Alliance (PMA) has raised the issues facing minorities. Addressing to the conference Tahir Naveed Chaudhry said that to create better interaction between different religions of the country, government should stop discriminatory behavior towards religious minorities and should provide them living rights. Force conversion should stop, minority seats in the parliament house should be increased according to the population, there should be transparent and fair census, abuse and misuse of blasphemy law should end, discriminatory material in text books should be banned. He said that discrimination in the legislation shows the dual face of the country, when Article 25 protect the rights of all citizen of the country but article 41 restrict the minority members to become president, and 18th amendments has barred them to be the prime minister of Pakistan. Pakistan must stop its discriminatory behavior.

New Year can lessen the trouble from the previous year for the Pakistani minorities if government takes necessary measures to protect minorities. We are witness to the year-round occurrence and continue to an alarming degree of the violence against the Christians of the countries. Persecution against minorities is not only blasphemy allegations but is an attack on their bodily integrity and their dignity. Police brutality towards minorities is no secret. There are number of cases been reported the suspicious deaths of Christians without police custody. Lack of interest towards complaints by the Christians minority has created a recognized level of impunity that exacerbates the situation in the country. Political influence on judiciary and police has extended the forms and ways to violence and discrimination against Christian minority. Most recently, in the capital, Islamabad, PML-N sitting parliamentarian reportedly has used its power to grab land of Pak Development Foundation ® (PDF) of 1.2 acre, where PDF is running vocational institute as well. The local land grabber with the help of PML-N parliamentarian registered a First Investigation Report (FIR) -134/15, at Police Station (PS) Banni Gala, Islamabad against PDF management and Basharat Khokhar, chief Coordinator United Church Council Islamabad (UCCI).

On the other hand the refusal by police officers to even register an FIR in most cases raised by Christians, illustrate that western nation assessment of “sufficiency of protection are flawed at best – yet the big sponsors i.e Britain, the European Union and the US the current status quo will continue or reach a nadir. The West is busy in bringing Legislative amendments to enable speedy return of asylum seekers to their home country. Benefits for asylum seekers have been reduced and rules for family immigration are tightened.

People across the globe simply have to challenge their politicians to intervene on behalf of Pakistani Christians or eventually this attrition will lead the eradication of Christian in Pakistan. We need to place an emphasis on the universality of violence against religious minorities in Pakistan, the multiplicity of its forms and the ways in which violence, discrimination against minorities, and the broader system of domination based on subordination and inequality are inter-related. The value of interfaith harmony is that it serves as a time of analysis of the issue and then of re-dedication to take both short-term and longer-range measures.

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