ISLAMABAD: Former Senate chairman Mian Raza Rabbani on Friday said that the National Council for Minorities nominated through a notification after a considerable delay was illegal because it had been formed in violation of a judgement announced by the then Chief Justice of Pakistan Tasaduq Hussain Jilani on June 19, 2014.
“The said act of violating the judgement of the Supreme Court is condemned,” the PPP leader said in a statement.
Mr Rabbani said that the Supreme Court’s judgement had come in the wake of a bomb blast in a Peshawar church in 2013 which left over a hundred members of the Christian community dead.
In a suo motu case, the then Chief Justice of Pakistan, in paragraph 37(iv) of the judgement, had ordered the setting up of the National Council for Minorities to monitor practical realisation of the rights and safeguards of members of minority communities provided in the 1973 Constitution.
The council was supposed to be mandated to frame policy recommendations for safeguarding and protecting minorities’ rights by the federal and provincial governments.
The judgement clearly mentioned eight steps that the governments were to take, including (i) reservation of quota in services, (ii) a special police force to protect places of worship, (iii) steps to discourage hate speeches, and (iv) revision of school curriculum to promote cultural and religious tolerance.
The PPP leader said that none of the steps had been taken so far by the governments.
He said that the federal government had, after the approval of the cabinet, constituted the council through a notification and the body had become controversial even before its birth and as a result the religious affairs ministry had to amend its summary.
The PPP leader said that the council should be constituted through an act of parliament.
Mr Rabbani said that the importance given to safeguarding the rights of the minorities in the country was evident from the fact that the white colour portion of the national flag represented minorities and in over 20 Articles of the Constitution, 1973, the rights of minorities had been guaranteed.
Published in Dawn, May 9th, 2020