LAHORE: The minorities in the country continue to face issues and claim that many of the Supreme Court directives issued four years ago have not been implemented.
In June 2014, the then CJP Tasadduq Hussain Jillani took a suo motu notice and directed some actions to be taken in order to protect religious minorities and their rights. Four years down the line, however many of the directives have still not been implemented.
While many from the non-Muslim community have been protesting this throughout, a couple of applications have been filed recently in the Supreme Court seeking the implementation of the verdict.
One of these was filed in the Supreme Court on May 9, 2018 by the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP), the Centre for Social Justice (CSJ) and the Cecil and Iris Foundation (CIF). The application calls for implementation of this judgement.
Hearing of one of the applications begins today
Justice Jillani’s suo motu directed for a special task force to be constituted, hate speech free curricula in schools, hate speech in social media be severely dealt with, national council for minority rights be constituted, a special police force be established for safeguarding places of worship, and a special three-member bench be constituted to ensure the implementation of all these.
The demand for better implementation of the five per cent job quota, and the implementation of Article 25A (free and compulsory education for all children) are what the applicants want for their community.
But activists say it’s shameful that during all this time, no political party has spoken strongly about this matter and the former ruling party (PML-N) had not bothered to fully implement them.
The CSJ carried out a research study around two years after the landmark judgement. It showed that the implementation was significantly lagging behind.
But with the general election coming up, the minorities have again expressed their feeling of being pushed in the corner, especially because of these directives not being implemented. In the meantime, the first hearing for this application will be held on Thursday (today).
Another application has also been presented in the SC by The Voice of Christians International (VOCI) represented by Ramesh Kumar from Sindh and Samuel Payara from Punjab. Samuel has also submitted various applications in court as an individual too regarding these issues.
“Since there was a church blast in Peshawar till the recent church attack in Quetta, we have not seen any compensation being given to any of the victims,” says Samuel. “We demand that this be done immediately as a lot of families have suffered the loss of their breadwinners in these attacks. At the same time we also demand a police force be made to safeguard our churches and temples. Why is there so much delay on this?” he questions.
Samuel goes on to stress that although a National Commission for Minority Rights has already been made (in December 2014), there seem to be no power or presence of the commission.
“In fact, it is so absent from the matters of the religious minorities that most people do not even know that it exists,” he says.
But Peter Jacob clarifies that the commission is just another ad hoc entity that the government says is there especially in international forums.
“The mere fact that such a commission was needed was the reason why it was called for in the June 2014 judgement, and then in 2015 and 2016, all three opposition parties (MQM, PPP and PTI) had made a bill which sought the formation of such a commission – all this points to the fact that there was no such thing.”
He adds that in the CSJ study, according to what the provincial governments had themselves stated, there was only 32pc compliance of the judgement.
“But even this compliance was on paper,” he says. “Some of the compliance was even less than what each government had stated. Even today there is no work done for the constitution of the task force, or a specialised police force, or as mentioned the National Commission for Minority Commission. Perhaps the most harmful has been the treatment of the curriculum and the hate speech in it.”
Jacob says that in KP hate speech was even added, while in other provinces while chapters on minorities were added, the hate speech was not fully removed. “This is what will shape the future generations and their attitude towards religious minorities.”
The most compliant of the judgements was the 5pc job quota directive, but even here Jacob says that the federal government issued notifications only but did nothing else to ensure that this quota be met. “It’s about time we were treated as citizens not divided on the basis of faith,” he says.
Published in Dawn, June 28th, 2018