Discrimination: Minority MPs decry unfair treatment

Urge govt to implement of Quaid-e-Azam vision. PHOTO: FILE

Urge govt to implement of Quaid-e-Azam vision. PHOTO: FILE

ISLAMABAD: Almost all non-Muslim members of the National Assembly complained on Thursday that mere commemoration of a day for minorities every year was no service to the communities.

Sounds of “don’t call me a minority, I am a Pakistani,” rang out in the lower house of parliament as the minorities lawmakers poured their hearts out during a debate related to the National Minorities’ Day, which was marked across the country on Thursday. But empty seats on both sides of the aisle poured cold water on their emotions.

Though the treasury benches were almost full with members during the sitting for voting on the controversial cybercrimes bill, just over a dozen members were present during the debate on minorities.

The lawmakers pointed out cases of forced conversions, protection of minorities, freedom to go to places of worship, right to elect their representatives in assemblies instead of the existing system of nomination and above all the question why non-Muslims could not be elected the prime minister or president of Pakistan.

The thrust of their speeches was the commitment made by Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah on August 11, 1947 in his address to the first constituent assembly, wherein he said: “You are free, you are free to go to your temples, you are free to go to your mosques or to any other places of worship in this state of Pakistan. You might belong to any religion or caste or creed – that has nothing to do with the business of the state… We are starting with this fundamental principle that we are all citizens and equal citizens of one state.”

While complaining about the persecution of minorities, PML-N’s Tariq Christopher Qaiser said the minorities decided to stay in Pakistan on the commitment of Quaid-e-Azam.

“We have been robbed of the right to elect our representatives,” he said, demanding that this democratic right, like Muslims, should be given to the minorities while increasing the number of seats for non-Muslims in the legislative assemblies.

He also referred to the proposed changes in Christian Marriage and Divorce Act, saying nine provisions/reasons for divorce were being introduced contrary to their religious beliefs. “I see it as a conspiracy to break our families,” he complained.

Qaiser’s party colleague Khalil George pointed out that the first chairman of the Constituent Assembly, Jogendra Nath Mandal, was a non-Muslim. “But now we cannot become speakers, prime ministers or presidents,” he said. “The government should implement Quaid’s speech in letter and spirit.”

Original news : http://tribune.com.pk/story/1160549/discrimination-minority-mps-decry-unfair-treatment/