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Home Media Reports 2009 Conference on Religious Minorities …
‘Minorities’ rights should be practically ensured’
Daily Times, Pakistan
Monday, May 18, 2009

Conference on Religious Minorities and Oppressed Nations in Pakistan: ‘Minorities’ rights should be practically ensured’

* Conference organised to commemorate Bishop John Joseph’s death anniversary
* BNP leader asks how minorities can get their rights if ‘nations’ like Baloch and Sindhis do not

Staff Report

LAHORE: The rights of minorities should be practically ensured as Pakistan came into being as a socio-democratic liberal progressive model, speakers at a conference on Religious Minorities and Oppressed Nations in Pakistan said on Sunday.

They said the current state of minorities in the country was not satisfactory. The conference was jointly organised by the Minority Rights Commission and the Minorities Movement for Democracy to commemorate the 11th death anniversary of Bishop John Joseph. Speaking at the occasion, former minister for parliamentary affairs Dr Sher Afgan Niazi said under the constitution of Pakistan, minorities’ rights were well protected. He said minorities’ voters were allowed to cast two votes, one to their own candidate and another to a Muslim candidate, adding that this proved their superiority in this matter. He said a new province by the name of Siraykistan should be formed, adding that it could be the solution to several problems. He said amendments in the constitution were made by rulers to perpetuate their regime. Talking to reporters, Niazi said the operation in Swat was inevitable as it was necessary to get the areas vacated from the Taliban. To a question on the judiciary’s freedom, he said: “In India, the biggest democracy of the world, they have taken back the authority of suo motu notice from the judiciary. By using this authority, a court can summon anybody and humiliate him or her over any reason. When we talk about the checks and balances, nobody should be given absolute authority.” He said minorities were protected under the constitution, adding that they should read it to learn about their rights.

Rights: Balochistan National Party (BNP) leader Dr Abdul Hayee Baloch said the civilian bureaucracy from Punjab had always kept exploiting the rights of the Balochis, Sindhis, Pathans and even other Punjabis. He said when nations like Balochis and Sindhis were not able to get their constitutional rights than it would be extremely difficult for a minority to get its rights. He said Balochistan had a coastal line of 770 kilometres, adding that it was of great strategic importance. He said the civil and military bureaucracy had occupied precious land in the province and the locals’ hatred for them was increasing daily.

Alliance for Restoration of Democracy (ARD) leader Qazi Abdullah Khamoosh said practical steps taken by Quaid-e-Azam showed he wanted to make Pakistan a secular state.The first law minister of Pakistan was a Hindu and the first foreign minister was an Ahmedi. Both were appointed by Quaid-e-Azam himself,” he said.

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