Lahore (Agenzia Fides) - "The government should give political priority to strengthening minority rights by adopting a series of legal, political and administrative measures to meet the needs and challenges of minority communities in Pakistan": is what Catholic activist, Peter Jacob, Executive Director of the Center for Social Justice (CSJ) said to Agenzia Fides.
Speaking of the challenges of religious minorities living in Pakistan, Peter Jacob cited equal rights, discrimination in the public sphere, abduction and forced conversions of women, material that propagates hatred and prejudice in school textbooks, which "terribily increases hatred and violence in our society".
Jacob observes: "Religious minorities are fighting for the implementation of the provision that reserves 5% of their jobs in public offices. Members of religious minorities are called for low-level jobs such as health workers, workers or cleaners".
The Social Justice Center and the Ministry for Human Rights and Minorities, in collaboration with the National Commission for Justice and Peace (NCJP), the Commission for Minority Rights (PCMR) and the Cecil & Iris Chaudhryn Foundation (CICF) have organized several events celebrating National Day of Religious Minorities, recalling the well-known speech of the father of the homeland, Ali Jinnah.
Nasira Javed Iqbal, a retired judge said: "Mohammad Ali Jinnah laid the foundations of a nation where all Pakistanis could enjoy equal rights, regardless of any discrimination and promote tolerance and build a prosperous society". According to the judge "to set up a commission for minority rights is fundamental in order to address the issues. Social justice and equal rights for citizens were emphasized by Jinnah. And those who today are the majority should not forget that they were in the past a minority".
The Christian, Ijaz Alam Augustine, Provincial Minister for Human Rights and Religious Affairs in the province of Punjab, speaking to Fides, said: "The government is firmly committed to implementing the vision of Jinnah, regarding the protection of religious minorities and the protection of their rights. We want to eliminate hate speech from textbooks, protect and preserve religious sites, ensure the implementation of the reserved quota in the workplace"
Muslim leader Abdul Khabeer Azad, Imam of the "Royal Mosque" of Lahore, told Fides: "Minorities have the right to equal human rights, like all other Pakistanis. The main responsibility of the state is the implementation and protection of human rights and the rights of marginalized groups". (AG) (Agenzia Fides, 31/8/2019)