Ministries in dispute over sharing of report on forced conversion

Published September 1, 2021
Activists of the Awami Jamhoori Ittehad protest against enforced disappearances outside National Press Club, Islamabad in this file photo. — White Star/File
Activists of the Awami Jamhoori Ittehad protest against enforced disappearances outside National Press Club, Islamabad in this file photo. — White Star/File

ISLAMABAD: The human rights ministry on Tuesday said sharing the report on forced conversion prepared by the Parliamentary Committee to Protect Minorities from Forced Conversions with the religious affairs ministry was not its responsibility.

Talking to Dawn, the human rights ministry spokesperson said the religious affairs ministry should get the copy of the report from the secretariat of the parliamentary committee.

The spokesperson was responding to criticism by clerics and officials of the religious affairs ministry that the human rights ministry has not shared the report of the Parliamentary Committee to Protect Minorities from Forced Conversions.

The report was used as a base for drafting the anti-forced conversion law by the human rights ministry, but the religious affairs ministry and clerics have reservations over the draft law.

Human rights ministry used parliamentary body’s report as base for drafting anti-forced conversion law

Incidentally, the ministry of religious affairs has started consultations on the draft anti-forced conversion law with the clerics and Islamic scholars, but it failed to acquire the official copy of the report from the parliamentary committee.

In a meeting held recently by religious affairs ministry criticised the human rights ministry for not sharing the report finalised by Senator Anwaarul Haq Kakar when he was the chairperson of the committee.

The contents of the report were discussed in the meeting chaired by Religious Affairs Minister Pir Noorul Haq Qadri, officials of Council of Islamic Ideology (CII) and clerics, besides taking up the draft anti- forced conversion bill.

However, the human rights ministry spokesperson said the ministry did not have the mandate to share the report of a parliamentary committee.

“Therefore, it was not the ministry’s responsibility to share any such report, rather it was the relevant parliamentary committee which would share the report,” the spokesperson of the human rights ministry said.

The religious affairs ministry has yet to obtain the official copy of the report from the secretariat of the parliamentary committee.

When contacted, religious affairs ministry spokesperson did not respond to the query whether his ministry had applied for a copy of the report.

However, sources in the religious affairs ministry said the copy of the report had been obtained by the clerics unofficially and a committee constituted under the director research CII was vetting the draft anti forced conversion bill in the light of the parliamentary committee report.

Published in Dawn, September 1st, 2021

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