The day of August 11 has a new significance after it has been celebrated as a “Minorities Day” in Pakistan. The historical perspective of this day reminds us how Quaid-i-Azam laid down the foundation of a tolerant and democratic country with a belief in secularism. The messages President Zardari and the Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani conveyed to the minorities reflect a positive mindset. I do not intend to doubt for the sake of it and see it as a genuine concern for the minorities. The will, the government expressed to review the laws “militate against” minorities has been a long-standing demand of minorities and civil society. But the present air is full of extremist elements and hardliners and the wave has left the society less tolerant. The country is gripped with tension and insecurity and most of the efforts have been dedicated towards fighting against terrorism.
In the midst of all this, the “Minorities Day” had something to offer like five percent quota in government jobs/services, and reservation of four seats in the Senate for minorities. In addition, optional holidays and celebration of the festivals of minorities at official level are those steps the government will take for the protection of their rights.
Looks good, sounds good. But I, as a defender of minorities’ rights, do not see it as something concrete keeping in mind how blasphemy accusation took lives of two Christian brothers recently. The incident of Gojra and other hundreds of cases of discrimination, humiliation, persecution and killing against minorities do not convince you about their secure future. Muslim extremist forces, who live in the ecstasy of their version of religion, yearn for maintaining the monopoly of one religion and are not convinced with the existence of people from other faiths. My only fear is that despite a strong will on part of the government, situation may not be improved as everything becomes acceptable wrapped in the cover of religion. The only chance for the survival of minorities in this country becomes clear when laws like blasphemy law will be repealed. A legal solution has to be offered if the government really wants to protect the rights of minorities. Otherwise, sweet talks about the idea of one nation we heard before. It is the legal solution that has more appeal and charm for minorities, nothing less than that.
Below are the stories :
‘Govt committed to preserving minorities rights’
ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani on Tuesday said that the government was committed for the preservation of rights of minorities in Pakistan.
“We recognise that our minorities are responsible and patriotic and are playing their due role in nation building. We will, therefore, not allow the miscreants to be successful in their ulterior motives,” the PM said in his message on the occasion of Minorities Day, being observed on August 11. Gilani said that the present democratic government has declared August 11, as “Minorities Day”. Gilani said that history of Islam is full of instances in which the minorities enjoyed peace, protection and equal social status. One of the top priorities of the present democratic government, he said, is to protect the rights of the minorities and to uplift and empower them, adding, interfaith harmony is being promoted through Ministry for Minority Affairs at international and national levels.
Gilani said that five percent quota in government jobs/services, reservation of four seats for minorities in the Senate, declaration of August 11 as the Minorities Day, including observance of optional holidays and celebration of the festivals of minorities at official level are amongst the few steps taken for the protection of the rights of minorities. The ‘Minorities Day’ provides us an opportunity to reassure that despite belonging to different faiths, we are one nation that continues to march on for a prosperous Pakistan, said the prime minister. Gilani expressed that this Minorities Day will go down in the annals of history as a memorable day.
President for promotion of peace, harmony
ISLAMABAD, (SANA): President Asif Ali Zardari has called upon the people belonging to all faiths to join hands in promoting peace and harmony and to alleviate the sufferings of the flood affectees.
In his message on the occasion of “Minorities’ Day” being observed on Aug 11, the President said that “the observance of the Minorities Day today is an occasion to recognize the important role played by the minorities in Pakistan in nation building, the sacrifices rendered by them, the problems and issues faced by member of minorities as well as to renew our commitment to protect their right and to draw them fully in the mainstream of national life”.
He said that the present democratic government was driven by the vision of the Quaid-e-Azam and Quaid-e-Awam in protecting the rights of the minorities. He said that the Quaid vision was contained in his historic speech on this day in 1947 that laid down the foundations of a modern, tolerant and progressive Pakistan in which every one would have equal rights regardless of creed and gender.
The Quaid-e-Awam’s vision is embodied in the Constitution of 1973 that envisioned minorities to freely profess and practise their religion and culture and that every one will have equal rights regardless of creed and gender, he added. Inspired by this vision, the President said, the present government decided to observe Aug 11 each year as the Minorities Day to reiterate the need to integrate people of all faiths in the national mainstream.
It has reserved five percent quota in government jobs, provided for four reserved seats in the Senate and allowed optional holidays to minorities on the eve of their religious festivals which will also be celebrated at official level, he said.
The government has also decided to review all laws that militate against minorities and the vulnerable sections of society, the President said. He said the country has been hard bit both by man made disasters in the form of terrorism and natural calamities in the form of floods caused by torrential monsoons.
Thousands have been killed and hundreds of billions lost in these man made disasters and natural calamities, the President said and called upon the people of all faiths to join hands to promote peace and harmony on the one hand and to alleviate the sufferings of the people hit hard bay the floods on the other.
“Let every one on this day pledge to promote democratic values and culture as a necessary tool of promoting tolerance, peace and harmony and ending violence and extremism as well s alleviating the suffering of our less fortunate brethren,” the President said.