ISLAMABAD: The Centre for Civic Education Pakistan (CCEP) has come forward with a charter of demands dealing with the ‘Equality of Citizenship’, and its 12 points were presented at a media orientation event on Wednesday at the Hillview Hotel.

The charter of demands first recognises that the Constitution is a social contract between the citizens and the state and must be scrutinised as to how religious minorities are put in vulnerable situations.

The charter then states that all political parties must be “culture inclusive” by discouraging separate wings for religious minorities.

All should be given opportunities in mainstream politics in the provinces and on the national level.

The third demand is to increase the reserved seats for those of other religious faiths in the national and provincial assemblies.

The next is to make the system of reserved seating in each party transparent and fair.

The charter insists that religious minorities be given a say in the decision making and policymaking machinery.

Recalling that Quaid-i-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah in his speech on Aug 11, 1947 pledged equality for every citizen, the charter asks that Aug 11 be observed every year as the day of equality in citizenship.

The charter asks that the fragile statutory Minority Rights Commission be strengthened, and that job quotas reserved for minorities be implemented.

And, finally, the charter asks that non-Muslims be included in necessary and awaited education reforms.

Dr Nadeem Umer Tarar, the director of the National College of Arts (NCA), said that apart from state measures, it is imperative that every Pakistani raise his or her voice for religious minorities.

The Constitution needs to be implemented in both letter and spirit, he said, adding that it is therefore vital that voices be raised collectively against every injustice.

Liaquat Shawani, an analyst, then spoke about the barbarism in society. In fact, he said, the system itself is barbaric, stemming from an ingrained callousness lingering from a colonial mindset.

He stressed that, without equality, nothing is possible.

There is even inequality between an established capitalist and a newly emerging one. Women and transgender people are not considered equal to men, he added.

Published in Dawn, June 1st, 2017

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