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06/27/2021 Pakistan (International Christian Concern) – According to the Union of Catholic Asian News (UCAN), church leaders in Pakistan are calling on the country’s government to revive the Ministry of Minority Affairs.

There was a ministry for minorities in the past which was a good and successful experience,” Archbishop Joseph Arshad of Islamabad-Rawalpindi told UCAN. “Currently, minority issues are handled by the Ministry of Religion Affairs ad Interfaith Harmony, which is usually occupied dealing with other religious affairs and the promotion of interfaith harmony in Pakistan.

A lot has to be done for minorities so that they don’t feel insecure in Pakistan,” Archbishop Arshad continued. The church leader highlighted the issues of forced conversions and forced marriages as some of the issues a Ministry of Minority Affairs could take up on behalf of religious minorities in Pakistan.

In 2008, the Ministry for Minorities was established with Shahbaz Bhatti, a Christian, selected to head the ministry. However, in 2011, Bhatti was assassinated by extremists for his support of Asia Bibi and his opposition to the country’s blasphemy laws.

Successive government have rolled the responsibilities of the Ministry for Minorities into other federal ministries until the responsibilities for the ministry were given to the Ministry for Religious Affairs and Interfaith Harmony by the current government.

In May 2020, the current government constituted a National Commission for Minorities with church leaders among those forming the commission. Some Christian leaders have called for this commission to be given the power it needs to confront challenges faced by religious minorities in Pakistan.

More focus should be put on empowering the National Commission for Minorities,” Peter Jacob of the Center for Social Justice told UCAN. “There is no harm in having more institutes, but token and symbolic ministries don’t serve the purpose.

For interviews, please contact Addison Parker: [email protected].