ISLAMABAD: Minister for Parliamentary Affairs Azam Swati said on Tuesday that new National Commission for Minorities (NCM) would be constituted within the next six months as the three-year tenure of the present commission had already expired.

Responding to a question of Senator Keshoo Bai, he said the Ministry of Religious Affairs and Interfaith Harmony was preparing a case for its fresh constitution with revised composition of members.

He said during the last five years, NCM issued six no-objection certificates (NOCs) for the sale of minorities properties.

The NCM was established through a resolution.

Terms of the NCM include developing a policy on inter-faith harmony, exploring avenues for peace and security, considering such laws, which are reportedly discriminatory towards the minorities.

The commission also recommends steps aimed at ensuring fuller and effective participation by the members of minority communities in all aspects of national life.

Besides, it also ensures minorities full and effective participation in and association with their religious and cultural festival and celebrations.

It also looks into the grievances and representations made by the members of any minority community to the government and, after examination of such grievances, to make suitable recommendations for their resoluion.

It also ensures that the churches, shrines, temples, gurdwaras and other places of worships of the minority communities are preserved and well kept in a functional condition.

National Commission for Minorities actively performed during the tenure of last government.

Six meetings of NCM were held and 61 important decisions were taken including taking notice of the burning alive of a Christian couple in Kasur district.

On the recommendations of NCM, provincial governments and Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT) administration constituted district interfaith harmony committees comprising members from all religions and presided by a high level government official, so that these Committees may take immediate action to address any incident at initial level and work as a task force.

On the recommendations of NCM, National Interfaith Harmony Conferences were also arranged in Lahore, Karachi, Peshawar,Quetta, Islamabad and Muzaffarabad.

NCM took notice of the registration of FIRs against some prayer leaders of Mosques in Islamabad on hate speeches and on use of loud speakers and asked for report on security measures taken for minority worship places in Islamabad.

On the recommendations of NCM, implementation of job quota reserved for minorities was taken up with federal ministries, divisions, departments as well as from provincial governments.

Issue raised with CDA to make functional the gurdwara/temple in Saidpur village, Islamabad, however, the same could not be made possible due to security reasons.

Published in Dawn, February 12th, 2020