05/04/2020 Pakistan (International Christian Concern) – Human rights activists in Pakistan have vowed to resist the announced formation of the National Commission for Minorities in Pakistan. This commission, which is set to be established by administrative action, has been rejected by human rights activists because they believe the formation of a toothless commission is merely a token gesture by the current ruling party.
Tomorrow, May 5, the Ministry of Religious Affairs is set to discuss the creation of a National Commission for Minorities. According to human rights activists in Pakistan, setting up the commission through administrative action, instead of legislative action, fails to provide the commission with sufficient independence and power to achieve the object of securing the rights of minorities in Pakistan.
“An institution meant to establish respect for rights must have a strong legal basis,” a joint letter by Pakistani human rights groups stated. “Otherwise, it will merely postpone resolve to the longstanding issues of institutional and structural inequality and discrimination on the basis of religion or belief.”
Peter Jacob, Chairman of the People’s Commission for Minorities Rights, went on to say, “Various governments in the past 30 years have set up such ad-hoc minority commissions through administrative powers, which have failed to translate into protections for minorities. Setting up yet another body without powers and resources will defeat the purpose, therefore, we reject this as tokenism.”
Human rights activists claim that an independent body set up by Pakistan’s legislative branch would be more suitable. According to these activists, similar independent commissions, such as the National Commission for Human Rights and the National Commission on the Status of Women, were set up in this manner and have had success.
In Pakistan, religious minorities, including Christians, face high levels of intolerance and discrimination. At times, religious intolerance and discrimination can explode into incidents of direct persecution. According to Open Doors USA’s World Watch List, Pakistan ranks the fifth most dangerous country in the world for Christians.
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