SAP seminar on minority rights
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Pakistan: SAP Seminar urges legislation to end violence and discrimination against religious minorities
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By Ghulam Abbas Kassar
Hyderabad, Pakistan: South Asia Partnership Pakistan (SAP-PK) conducted seminar on contribution of Political parties and religious leaders on Right of Expression, Association, Assembly and Thoughts REAT on 20 August 2014 at Regent Plaza Hotel Karachi Sindh Pakistan. The Main objectives of seminar are to gauge the contribution of political parties on rights and protection of religious worship places and social security, to assess the performance indicators of provincial assembly on legislation and bills for countering the religious minority’s issues, to analyze the current situation of religious minority’s issues especially forced marriage and conversion in Sindh Pakistan. The seminar was attended by Lal Chand Ukarani Pakistan People’s Party, Ravi Dawani All Hundu Panchait Pakistan , Karamat Ali PILER Pakistan, Sanjay Kumar APHP, Dewan Sachal PTI, Muhammad Hussain Maehnati Jamat Islami , Shahnaz Sheedi provincial coordinator SAP PK , Shahid Jameel SAP PK, Shahda Bakhsha Human Rights Activist, Irshad Junejo and others who have contributed in rights and protection measures for religious minorities in Sindh Pakistan.
On this occasion Ms Shahnaz Sheedi Provincial coordinator South Asia Partnership Pakistan SAP PK shared assessments which were conducted by SAP PK, She said that Sindh Assembly during its first parliamentary year, passed 31 laws, majority of them was passed unanimously. Assembly secretariat received 40 bills, of them 36 were passed and 31 were enacted as law. She added that from May 30, 2013 to May 30, 2014, the provincial assembly has 12 sessions, and completed required 100 meeting days in a year. Of 12 sessions in all 57 sittings were held this also included 43 days holidays and gap of two days. She emphasised that during these 100 days, no legislation was about minorities and their welfare was made. No minority members either from treasury benches (PPP and MQM) or from opposition (PML-F) presented any bill for legislation.
Lal Chand Ukrani MPA Pakistan People Party said that Political parties have raised the voice for protection of religious minorities and discussed in assemblies with any discrimination. But they failed to do legislation due to some serious issues among Hindu marriage act and castes in Hindu religions. He added that Sindh Assembly is processing two resolutions about the minority’s rights especially forced marriage and conversion, marriage law and violence against minorities. All speakers also emphasised on development funds of religious minorities and debate on budget review.
MQM MPA Deewan Chand Chawla said, 90 percent schemes of Department of Minority Affairs are lying incomplete, only 10 per cent schemes have been completed. He lamented that a huge amount was allocated for this department but only 10 per cent work was carried out. We are demanding for proper legislation and protection of religious, minorities and seek attention from political and religious leaders for promotion and protection of religious discrimination.
Ravi Dawani General secretary of All Hindu Paincahit Pakistan said that majority political leaders should support the legislation for religious minorities because we are playing role in selection in assemblies. He further added that
political leaders should consider the issues and tolerate the response of activists at provincial level.
Sanjay Kumar said speeches and issues raised in the assembly about minorities.
Attitude of Treasury benches
Opposition and Muslim members Muslim members also supported the minorities’ issues and condemned the act of violence. Likewise treasury and opposition benches were seen united on the minorities issues as joint resolution was moved by opposition and treasury benches condemning the attack on Church in Peshawar.
Irshad Junejo South Asia partnership Pakistan said that forced religious conversion is a major concern for religious minorities and mostly Hindus in Sindh are facing it on a largescale basis. It was only discussed in assemblies but not recognize as severe issues. The Hindu communities are migrating from for fear and insecurity at grass root level. He added that district government or police department are in under pressure of political and religious influentials and were not taking action against culprits of forced marriage and conversion in Sindh. He said that due to forced religious conversion of minority girls and their kidnapping have spread wave of fear and discomfort among the minorities. He urged the house to make such legislation to determine the minimum age for marriage and also effective law to determine the age of kidnapped girls.
Muhammad Hussain Mehnati said that Islam is complete code of life and support to equality and justice. He further said that we all human being are equal if anybody kills the people on basis on creed, race and religious discrimination, they are not among the Muslims. We all people have to support the political vision which is working for human rights, equality and justice. He said that Jamat Islami has provided the equal opportunities to citizens without any religious discrimination. He said that Jamat Islami has selected the Christian Women MNA Forum.
KPK province of Pakistan
Karamat Ali Executive Director of Pakistan Institute of labor Education and Research said that some forces are supporting to religious conflicts and firing the issues on basis of religion. He further added that political leaders should provide the equal opportunities to religious minorities and reduced the discrimination against women in Sindh.
He said that political parties should select the leaders from working class including labor and other kind of leaders who are excluded from political process in Pakistan. We should promote pro poor legislation and equal participation for social justice.
[Ghulam Abbas Kassar is a Journalist in Hyderabad, Pakistan and presently working as bureau chief of daily Messenger Karachi and Lahore Times (online) and is a member of Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists and European Journalism Center. He can be reached at email@example.com or on his phone at 92 3453585137]
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