While presiding over the review petition on the 18th amendment made in the country's constitution by the sitting parliament, the Chief Justice of Supreme Court praised the parliament for undoing an error made/forced upon during General Zia's era.

The Majlis-i-shoora (parliament) under the Zia regime rephrased the Objectives Resolution by removing the word 'freely' while referring to the rights of religious minorities to practice their beliefs. The Objectives Resolution is a set of basic principles approved by the first constituent assembly in 1949 which became the foundation for all upcoming constitutions.

When this resolution was presented by the then prime minister, Liaquat Ali Khan, in 1949, it was vehemently opposed by minorities' representatives and lawmakers from the then East Pakistan. The Objectives Resolution was seen to be in clash with the founder of Pakistan, Mohammed Ali Jinnah's speech of August 11, 1947 wherein he asked the Constituent Assembly to work on a constitution wherein the state and religion be kept apart.

During the speech, he provided a number of guidelines “You are free to go to your temples, you are free to go your mosques or to any other place of worship in this state of Pakistan. You may belong to any religion or caste or creed, that has nothing to do with the business of the state... In the course of time, Hindus would cease to be Hindus and Muslims would cease to be Muslims, not in the religious sense, because that is the personal faith of each individual, but in the political sense as citizen of the state.”

On the other hand, the Objectives Resolution set the foundation for a theological state — a state which later led to defining who is a Muslim and who is not, which proceeded with limiting non-Muslims rights. In present-day Pakistan, only a Muslim can hold the offices of the president and prime minister.

We should not forget that Pakistan was created as a place where all its citizens could be free from the kind of injustice the Muslim minority faced in United India. It was not supposed to treat its own minorities in the same manner. Therefore, the buck shall not stop at the reinstating of the Objectives Resolution's correct phrase in the constitution but to undo the resolution itself. It is time that Pakistan reviewed its highly controversial blasphemy law which time and again has been used against the minorities to settle scores.

We should encourage both the parliament and the judiciary to move forward to build a society wherein all of its citizens enjoy equal rights irrespective of their faith, religion, sect, caste, creed, ethnicity or gender.

Masood Khan
Saudi Arabia

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