One -Day Conference on Protection of Minority Rights in Pakistan by Peace Center Lahore

One -Day Conference on Protection of Minority Rights in Pakistan by Peace Center Lahore

Peace Center Lahore organized one day conference on 19 June 2023 in Peace Center Lahore, and the title of the conference was the Implementation of the Landmark Judgement of the Supreme Court of Pakistan PLDSC 699, 19 June 2014, “Protection for the Rights of Minorities in Pakistan”. For this conference there was special collaboration of IMRF (Implementation of Minorities Rights Forum) with Peace Center. This conference was a marvelous manifestation of interfaith harmony and peace and that how all of us, although we belong to different religions can bring a significant change in our society in which rights of all are protected.
Such events in which Muslims, Christians, Hindus and Sikh gather to discuss about their everyday life issues give encouragement to the all, especially to minority communities. It was a very successful and marvelous conference in which everyone felt at home and learnt a lot for the speakers. James Channan OP, Director of Peace Center, who was the main organizer invited religious leaders, civil society representatives, lawyers, media personals and defenders and promoters of minority rights. The speakers from the Muslim, Christian, Hindu and Sikh communities included; Chaudhary Zubair Ahmad Farooq Advocate Supreme Court, Dr. Kanwal Fer4oe, Mr. Samuel Piara, Rev. Dr. Marqus Fida, Dr.  Badr Munir, Ms. Nadia Hameed Advocate High Court, Dr. Sardar Kalyan Singh, Pastor Amjad Niamat, Allama Saeed Nau Bahar Shah, Dr. Saleem Massey, Qari Akbar, Sunita Munawar, Pandit Kashi Raam, Ishtiaq Chaudhary Advocate Supreme Court, Mufti Syed Ashiq Hussain, Maulana Asghar Arif Chishti, Pandit Kashi Ram and Mr. Kashif Neemat Advocate Hight Court and Ms. Naureen Bukhari. The recitation from the holy books of Christianity, Islam, Sikhism and Hinduism was done by the religious leaders respectively. They offered prayers for the welfare of Pakistan, and protection of all the minorities living in the country. Asher Nazi, Executive Secretary of Peace Center, was the stage secretary. He invited Fr. James Channan OP, host and Director Peace Center to welcome all the distinguish guests, speakers, guests and participants. He said, “I warmly welcome all the esteemed guests to join this very important conference to protect the minority rights under the light of landmark judgement given by Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Pakistan, Justice Tassaduq Hussain Jillani and his bench of three judges on 19th of June, 2014. It was the 9th anniversary of this landmark judgment.  This conference is the need of hour to raise the voice against the terrorist attacks on All Saints Church in Peshawar in which 126 Christians were martyred and attacks on other Churches, Mosques and Temples as well. Unfortunately, we lost 126 Christians in the blast of All Saints Church in Peshawar as well in war against terrorism Pakistan lost more than 80,000 lives and it is still going on. Some minority community girls were abducted, raped and forced to be married and converted to Islam. Kalash and Ismaili Communities are also facing religion conversion issues. Sadly, saying that, all the minority communities have the reservations but I would like to appreciate each one of you because your presence is the proof that you have heart for the victims of these communities. Fr James Channan also appreciated Mr. Samuel Payara for his great efforts for the implementations of the rights of minorities in the light of the landmark judgment and for well-being of minority community in Pakistan. Sardar Kalyan Singh appreciated the efforts of the organizers and for the opportunity to share his remarks on this auspicious event. He regretted by saying that we are not equal citizens of Pakistan and according to the Constitution of Pakistan, we are not eligible to become President, PrimeMinister, Chief of Army Staff and Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Pakistan and there are many more positions as well we are not eligible for just because we are not Muslims. We are proud to be Pakistanis but somehow the equality of all citizens is missing.  Dr Kalyan Sindh said that “I would like to claim the Jinnah’s Pakistan which include all religious communities equally with discrimination toward none.  I pay my heartily gratitude to all the friends and brothers who are already contributed a lot to protect the minority rights in Pakistan and our journey continue for a better situation. Mufti Ashiq Hussain thanked the hosts for inviting him, and he appreciated the courage and concerns to provide protection to the minority community in Pakistan and according to the history of Islam in Madina State, all the residing minority are protected in Pakistan.  All minorities are availing liberty as well. They are free for the celebration of all rituals and enjoying the other rights as well. He said, I also strongly condemn the inhuman act of extremist Hindu community in India doing the persecution of Christians, Muslims and other minority communities. Ms. Nadia Hameed shared her practical thoughts to condemn all the prejudiced practices against the minorities in Pakistan. We do observe many cases of abduction, forced marriages and conversions of the religion and how painful life that Hindu and Christian girls have had afterwards. I appreciate if we can only focus on the welfare of Pakistan by protecting the minority rights. I respectfully congratulate to all the stakeholders who have contributed a lot to implement the landmark judgement. Meanwhile, I give recommendation to sign a resolution after this conference for the protection of all minorities.   

Fr. James Channan OP awarded a Pakistan Peace Award to Mr. Samuel Piara on his outstanding efforts to implement the landmark judgement approximately 80 per cent and continue to protect the minority rights in Pakistan. On receiving the Pakistan Peace Award, Mr. Samuel Piara thanked to Fr. James Channan OP for the concerned appreciation, encouragement and support to create a difference for defending the minority rights. Furthermore, he shared that “The landmark judgement was the great achievement for the protection of minority rights and I would like to share that there are very few names who participated to complete the homework for the final approval of the judgement and they are Rev. Shahid Mahraj and Rev. Majeed Abel.  Along with Christian leaders, I appreciate the courage and concerns of Mr. Ramaish Kumar for his support and dedication to defend the minority rights. After the kind approval of the landmark judgement by the bench of three judges, here are brief seven points to protect the rights of all minorities in Pakistan.

1.    Removal of the hate material from the curriculum at national level.
2.    To monitor social media if someone posting the discriminatory content.
3.    Constitution of the National Minority Commission to address the minority issues.
4.    Appoint a special Task Force to protect the rights of minorities and find the appropriate solutions of their issues.
5.    Provide the provision of 5 % job quota to all the minority communities along with general seats.
6.    Protection of the Civil Laws and registration of the marriages of Christian, Hindu, Sikh and other minorities.
7.    Provide the security to all the religious places of worship for religious rituals.

The Supreme Court of Pakistan will constitute a bench to hear the issues of all the minority communities on priority basis. Now it is our responsibility to monitor the implementation of the judgement that monitored by the 6 Chief Justices in different times since 2014.

Mr. Samuel Payara also quoted Chief Justice Mr. Saqib Nisar who ordered the constitution of One-Man Commission, which is formed and it is positive step to safeguard the rights of minority communities and it has helped to implement several decisions of the Supreme Court Judgement.  We are pleased to know that special unit is available to hear the complaints of minorities, 5 percent job quota is implemented, national commission for minority rights constituted and all together 80 percent of the judgement implemented with the kind support of friends. Badar Munir dedicated himself for the protection of minorities in Pakistan, and appreciated all the efforts made for the betterment of minorities living in Pakistan. He assured and showed his willingness to help the needy minorities in Pakistan. Ishtiaq Chaudhary thanked Fr James Channan for inviting him at this grand conference.  He highlighted some of the points   of this historic judgement regarding the implementation of the judgement. Peshawar blast was a sad incident but Supreme Court compensated the victim families and also notified to protect the religious places by providing them more security. All the minorities; Christians, Hindus and Sikhs they will register their marriages in NADRA data base. Article 20 of the Constitution of Pakistan.

Ensures the religious freedom of all and propagation of their faith and right freely practice their religions. This religious freedom was also included and passed in 23 March 1940 Resolution of Pakistan. All   rights of minorities are protected in the articles number 37, 51, 59, 106 and 224 of the Constitution of Pakistan. Pakistan is signatory with United Nations and bound to implement the 17 SDGs.

Advocate Kashif Namat head of the legal team IMRF, and he said that my father was killed in Youhanabad blast in 2015 but after this judgment, we have security to protect our Churches and other religious places. I will request to all the religious leaders to propagate the awareness of the judgement that may people enjoy their rights given by the Supreme Court. I also pay my gratitude to all the stakeholders who helped us to bring this judgement on table and for the true implementation as well. There are about 92,000 vacancies reserved for minorities, which need to be fulfilled. If all these posts are filled by the minorities, it can bring a significant change in our society. It is a challenge for minorities to apply to get these jobs both in the provincial and federal government. Advocate Zubair Ahmad Farooq appointed as a government lawyer in the case of Asia Bibi, and he shared his experience while dealing the cases. He said it was the pressure moments for all the lawyers and judges when TLP announced the strike at national level. However, this landmark judgment was the great step to give relief to the minority community. I extend my services for the implementation of this landmark judgment.

Fr. James Channan OP was invited to give his concluding remarks and thank all the participants of this historic conference. He said, “I met to the great man Justice Tassaduq Hussain Jillani on 7 May 2023, and paid tribute for the landmark judgment, when we shared the feedback and implementation of the judgment, he was very happy to know the progress.

I also congratulate to all of you for your presence especially Samuel Piara for his dedication for implementation of minorities rights. I know that all the minorities living in different countries have to face the discrimination, persecution and sometime target killings. All countries must take steps to protect the right of minorities in their countries so that all people on earth have the right of religious freedom, practices of religious rights and propagation of their religion. He thanked all the honorable guests and speakers who make this once day conference a great success.

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