Sindh CM calls for concerted efforts to tackle extremism, bigotry in society

Published January 24, 2024
Sindh caretaker Chief Minister retired Justice Maqbool Baqar speaks at Arts Council of Pakistan, Karachi on Jan 23. — X/ACPKHI
Sindh caretaker Chief Minister retired Justice Maqbool Baqar speaks at Arts Council of Pakistan, Karachi on Jan 23. — X/ACPKHI

KARACHI: Underlining the need for concerted efforts to eliminate extremist groups, caretaker Chief Minister retired Justice Maqbool Baqar on Tuesday said that extremism and bigotry had seeped across large segments of the society.

“Just as the state’s active role in patronising radical groups has contributed to the extremism, concerted efforts towards eliminating such groups and forging alliances with the progressives will allow us to reverse the tide of violent extremism,” he said while speaking at the one-day event on the ‘Provincial Conference for Minority Rights’ organised by the minority affairs ministry and Arts Council of Pakistan, Karachi.

Justice Baqar said: “We have often failed to protect non-Muslim citizens. I consciously choose not to use the word minority because I believe no citizen should feel like a minority in their own country merely because they ascribe to a religion that is different from the one ascribed by a country’s majority.”

The CM said: “Today, fundamental rights and civil liberties are in jeopardy throughout the world as right-wing regimes attempt to further marginalise vulnerable communities. He said the Indian Supreme Court had validated the regime’s decision to build a temple on the site of Babri Masjid. “At the same time, despite pressure from radical elements, the courts throughout Pakistan have done well to uphold religious liberties, often at the peril of violence from such groups,” he said.

Speakers at seminar call for fundamental rights, civil liberties to minorities

The conference was also addressed by interim Sindh Information Minister Ahmed Shah, Dr Shoaib Suddal, Iqbal Ahmed Dathu, Mirza Moiz Baig, Akram Ali Khawah, Naveed Anthony, Faisal Siddiqui, Sukh Dev and Ramesh Singh.

Ahmed Shah advocated for insurance coverage for all janitorial staff, emphasising the importance of equal participation of people of every religion in Pakistan. He challenged the notion of minorities being labelled as such and stressed the need for a more inclusive society.

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“Every citizen should have an equal share, and the minority’s five per cent quota should not remain unutilised,” he emphasised.

Shoaib Saddal praised the conference’s significance and recalled the 2013 church bombing in Peshawar. Proposing the formation of a national council for minorities and a robust institute, he advocated for the effective resolution of the issues being faced minorities.

Mr Suddal also suggested removing harmful content from social media and proposed a special police force to safeguard the places of worship of the minorities.

Moiz Baig congratulated Ahmed Shah for fostering unity among the people of all religions. Emphasising the constitutional provisions allowing freedom of religion for all, he expressed optimism about bringing positive changes in Sindh by addressing minority issues.

Iqbal Ahmad Dathu recalled the formation of the Human Rights Commission in 2011 and the constitutional rights guaranteed to the minorities. He stressed the need to address challenges related to the registration of marriages and properties of Hindu, acknowledging the ongoing efforts in Sindh for the rights and protection of the minority community.

Published in Dawn, January 24th, 2024

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