LAHORE: Participants in an event to inaugurate a research report on “Justice Yet Afar” were of the view that the state had failed to fully implement the Supreme Court’s verdict on minorities rights.

The landmark judgment was passed by the then Chief Justice of Pakistan Justice Tassaduq Hussain Jillani on June 19, 2014.

The research report observed that the Supreme Court bench had conducted 23 follow-up hearings and passed nearly six dozen orders, yet Pakistan stood 21 years away from the finish line of full implementation, considering the existing pace of compliance.

The Centre for Social Justice (CSJ) has published the research study “Justice Yet Afar” conducted and authored by Peter Jacob. It is the third publication by the author on the subject.

The new version of `Justice Yet Afar’ studies the institutional aspects of implementing initiatives as well the gaps confronted. A keen investigation of the precedent law on the minorities’ rights in Pakistan has been added.

The topics covered include national commission for minorities, protection of communal properties, job quota, curriculum for peace and the one-man-commission constituted by the Supreme Court of Pakistan, indicating factors and actors vis-à-vis compliance of the verdict.

The publication is dedicated to the memory of veteran advocate of human rights IA Rehman who passed away on April 12 this year. The report also carries the foreword contributed by him.

A virtual inauguration of this research study was joined by Justice retired Nasira Iqbal, former Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General on human right defenders and chairperson Human Rights Commission of Pakistan Hina Jillani, historian Dr. Yaqoob Khan Bangash, human rights activist advocate Saroop Ijaz and advocate Saqib Jillani.

Ms Jillani termed the study skillful in summarising the events regarding the Supreme court’s verdict and follow-up, and the observations made are insightful.

She said the Supreme Court judgment had suggested a very comprehensive and precise framework for the protection of the minorities’ rights which, if fully implemented, would provide relief to minorities and bring social cohesion in Pakistan.

“This study informs us that despite clear orders in the verdict, the federal and provincial governments had not achieved beyond 24 per cent compliance even after the lapse of seven years,” she said.

Speaking on the blocking factors analysed in the study Dr Bangash said that the absence of a statutory body for protection and oversight of minority rights in the form of an independent National Minorities Commission, the pending legislation on personal laws of minorities, gaps in the administrative measures; such as the formation of task forced and lack of inclusive reforms in education system will continue to linger on.

Emphasizing the importance of the judgment, Saqib Jillani said that the judgment has helped the nation to focus on the issues of minorities, while its lack of implementation has exposed the gaps in governance.

Ms Nasira Iqbal said there was a need to emphasise the concept of equal citizenship accompanying the same rights for all irrespective of faith.

She said the guidelines provided through the decision of June 19, 2014, had reaffirmed the concept of equal human dignity through the lens of constitution and human rights.

She said Pakistan should have to modernise its education system and develop inclusive curricula for all as proposed in the court directives.

Mr Ijaz said the government should give a serious attention to the recommendation for an effective implementation at both provincial and federal government levels to protect minorities’ rights in the light of the judgment.

Mr Jacob said the study was an effort to investigate into the causes behind the lack of (76 percent) implementation which he believed was vital to empower Pakistan as a society and state against the challenges.

He said the on-going efforts for rule of law, respect for human rights and democratic and participatory governance were a testimony to peoples’ urge for justice and peace in the country.

Published in Dawn, May 5th, 2021

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