LAHORE: A gathering was held on Monday to mark the fifth anniversary of a directive regarding rights of religious minorities issued by the then chief justice of Pakistan retired Justice Tassaduq Hussain Jillani five years ago on a suo motu notice.
Human rights activists, especially from the minority communities, gathered at the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan auditorium where they discussed the situation of minority rights.
The Supreme Court’s landmark judgement came on June 19, 2014 in a suo motu notice taken on the Peshawar church attack as well as regarding issues of the Hindu community, including forced conversions and attacks on their temples. The decision called for protection of minorities and freedom of religion.
Peter Jacob, special adviser to the Shoaib Suddle Commission -- formed for the implementation of these orders, said that the situation in the fifth year since the court directive is still fairly the same as it has always been.
Show concern at the recent terror attacks that have taken place in Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa
“The government is consistently talking about job quotas, but they have still not been implemented,” he said. “Security of places of worship is terrible, and we are deeply concerned at the recent terror attacks that have taken place in Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.”
He further said the national narrative needed to change. “Even the National Action Plan hasn’t been implemented, and we have serious issues with the internal security policy, including madressah reforms.”
Representatives of the Centre for Social Justice, Cecil and Iris Chaudhry Foundation as well as the National Commission for Justice and Peace (NCJP) were also present.
The NCJP also agreed that the narrative of the country had to change in order to improve education syllabus and textbooks to remove hostility and hate speech that was being taught to students.
The participants expressed concern that despite a lapse of five years no real progress had taken place on implementation of the judgement except for the establishment of the one-man Suddle Commission, whose report is still awaited. “There are no resources allocated, no staff deputed,” he said. “We never received a single hearing because no bench has been constituted. It is lethargy by all organs of the state.”
Veteran rights champions IA Rehman and Husain Naqi were also present.
Dr Mehdi Hasan on behalf of the HRCP said that the Tassaduq Jilani judgement must be immediately implemented and that the commission had earlier filed a public interest petition with the assistance of allied organisations, requesting the Supreme Court to take note of the matter.
The application recorded the status of implementation of directives issued in the judgement.
“The Tassaduq Jilani judgement lays the foundation for the realisation of religious minorities’ rights,” he said in a statement. “If this basic benchmark cannot be implemented then the state’s claims concerning the protection of minority rights seem meaningless.”
Published in Dawn, June 5th, 2019
Dear visitor, the comments section is undergoing an overhaul and will return soon.