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Pakistan’s citizens and rights bodies highlight plight of non-Muslims

Plight of Pakistanis continue

Representatives of civil society, media, and of minority and human rights organisations deplored the plight of non-Muslims in Pakistan, as chairman of the one-man Commission on Minority Rights, Shoaib Suddle, expressed his “helplessness” in implementing the 2014 Supreme Court decision on minorities’ rights, Dawn reported.

Speaking as a keynote speaker at the National Advocacy Conference on Minority Rights organised by the National Commission for Justice and Peace, Suddle blamed bureaucracy for the failure to implement the decision announced by then-Supreme Court Justice Tassaduq Hussain Jilani and expressed his “pessimism” about any change in the situation for minorities without changing the national mindset and society’s attitude, as reported by Dawn.

“I don’t want to be pessimistic, but it is a reality that we might not be able to come out of the [prevailing] situation,” he said.

“Our bureaucratic system is the main hurdle in the SC judgement’s implementation,” said Suddle, who complained that the bureaucrats, especially those sitting in the provinces, did not respond to his communications for months. He added that these bureaucrats and those sitting at the helm of affairs did not give due importance to the minorities’ rights. He also declared that he was not getting any cooperation from the authorities.

Suddle terms bureaucracy as the primary impediment to implementing the Supreme Court’s decision.

Almost all of the speakers condemned last week’s Jaranwala tragedy, in which many churches and homes of Christians were burned on fire on blasphemy charges.

The speakers “condemned” the state’s role in the rise of violence against minorities, as well as its inability to safeguard marginalised groups in society.

Suddle called the Jaranwala episode “shameful” and that it had tarnished the country.

He stated that the Supreme Court in its judgement called for the removal of hate material from the curriculum, and that the goal had been met to some extent with the implementation of the Single National Curriculum.

Renowned scholar and a civil rights activist Haris Khalique said that instead of the Objective Resolution, Quaid-i-Azam’s speech on August 11, 1947, should be included in the Constitution as preamble. He was of the opinion that Jaranwala incident was a “terrorist act” and not merely a result of “extremism,” according to Dawn.

Earlier this week, on Wednesday, a mob made its way through a predominantly Christian area on the outskirts of the industrial city of Faisalabad after allegations that the Holy Quran had been desecrated.

Over 100 people were arrested in connection with the church vandalism case, Geo News reported citing the Punjab interim government’s spokesperson.

Meanwhile, Christian leaders alleged that the police remained silent spectators, Dawn reported.

A day after the arrest of over 100 people in connection to the incident, Jaranwala police of the Faisalabad District on Thursday said that they have registered two terror cases against 600 people for ransacking and torching Christians’ homes and a church building a day ago, reported Dawn.

Multiple churches were vandalised in the Jaranwala district of Pakistan’s Faisalabad on Wednesday over blasphemy allegations, Pakistan-based Dawn reported citing officials. Moreover, the residents of the members of the Christian community were also attacked.

A Christian cemetery and the office of the local assistant commissioner were also vandalized during the attack.

It identified eight people as leading the mob, one of whom is allegedly affiliated with the Jamaat Ahl-e-Sunnat and another with the Tehreek-i-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP), Dawn reported.

The FIR invoked sections pertaining to “punishment for acts of terrorism” — of the Anti-Terrorism Act, of 1997.According to the FIR, the mob “threw out people’s belongings from their homes and started setting them on fire.”

The suspects also “entered a Catholic church, destroyed the things there, and damaged and torched its building”, it added.

Also read: Shame enacted: Mullahs ransack Christian settlement in Pakistan