13 June | 2024

Lahore, Pakistan

Asif Sardar demands powerful minorities’ commission, key role in governance

Minority rights defender says National Commission for Minorities must provide a platform where all religious minorities could discuss their issues comprehensively and legislate accordingly

Minority rights defender and Kawish Resource Center Executive Director Asif Sardar has demanded the establishment of an autonomous but powerful and resourceful National Commission for Minorities to preserve Pakistan’s religious communities in less numbers.

In a candid talk with Jarida Daily, he said that the National Commission for Minorities must provide a platform where all religious minorities could discuss their issues in comprehensively and legislate accordingly. “We have to form this independent commission at national level as an act of the parliament,” he said.

Like the past practices, the proposed national commission must not be under any ministry, he suggested. “We have to understand sensitivities and seriousness of the formation of the commission,” Asif Sardar said, and criticized inclusion of members from the majority community in the past commission that was established purely for religious minorities.

‘Our minorities are forced to become second-class citizens’
‘Our minorities are forced to become second-class citizens’

“I am unable to understand inclusion of Muslims in a minority commission, as all we know that no one from religious minorities can be part of the Council of Islamic Ideology,” he said while pointing out a constitutional body founded in 1962 for legal advice to the parliament and the government. In June 2014, the Supreme Court mandated the government in Islamabad to form a national council for minorities.

“Our policymakers have to create a trust with the representatives of minority communities as any commission for minorities must include only minority people,” Asif Sardar said. “We are not against anyone, but rule must be for all,” he said. As equal citizens, everyone has a right to live their life according to their religious practices, he said.

He urged all political parties to fulfill their promises with the minorities as elected leadership always avoid issues of minority people. He suggested effective measures to address human rights issues affecting marginalized groups in Punjab and other provinces. He also pointed out pressing issue of forced conversion of Christians.

To a question, he demanded an impartial investigation in all cases involving blasphemy accusations. “We can easily observe and it is proven time and again that accusations were fabricated against minorities,” the minority rights defender said, adding that religious minorities were forced to become second-class citizens.