Pakistan was founded as a country that would protect the rights of the Muslim minority of the Indian subcontinent. 77 years later the country is no place for minorities of any kind, ethno-linguistic, religious or gender based.
Pakistan’s premier human rights watchdog, the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) hosted a national roundtable and called upon the government to establish a statutory national commission for the rights of minorities as per the recommendation of the 2014 Supreme Court Jillani Judgement.
Representatives from minority groups, political parties, government departments, Ministry of Human Rights, the National Commission for Human Rights and rights organisations that attended the round table proposed several recommendations.
Pritam Das Rathi from the Hindu community said “the majority of the members must be from minorities. Furthermore, the commission must report on the state of minorities’ rights to the prime minister on a quarterly basis.”
Professor Mehar Dad from the Bahai community added “the commission’s role must extend to all provinces and regions.”
Father Sarfraz Simon from the Christian community pointed out “school curricula must be reformed to remove hate speech and reflect the role of minorities in the formation of Pakistan.”
Mahmood Iftikhar from the Ahmadiyya community added “the commission must be inclusive of the rights of vulnerable groups such as Ahmadis, who have experienced numerous desecrations of their sites of worship in 2023.”
HRCP council member Hina Jilani recommended “developing a statute for a commission after a wide consultation, adding that Ahmadi representatives be included in the commission to uphold their rights. The Supreme Court must also make an implementation plan for the Jillani Judgement, and mob mentality to block progressive legislation must be discouraged.”
In conclusion HRCP’s secretary-general Harris Khalique warned “the national commission for the rights of minorities must meet internal accountability mechanisms along with the Paris Principles in terms of its composition, mandate, authority and resources.”