Equality March urges to End Constitutional Inequality, Misuse of Blasphemy Laws & Forced Religious Conversions

Rwadari Tehreek

Rwadari Tehreek– Pakistan held Equality March from Punjab Assembly to Lahore Press Club on 11 August 2023 in connection with National Minority Day to express solidarity with the extremely suffering religious minorities of Pakistan and to highlight their issues, problems and threats to their human rights due to their faith.

The Equality March was participated by scores of citizens belonging to different faiths and religions who chanted slogans against religious intolerance, extremism, inequality, misuse of Blasphemy Laws, abduction and forced conversion of minor Christian, Hindu, and Sikh girls.  The participants of the Equality March called for the implementation on the vision of Quaid-e-Azam Muhammed Ali Jinnah, promised in his speech to the constituent Assembly on 11th August 1947 and urged the attention of provincial governments, federal government, political parties and the state institutions towards the plight of religious minorities.

The Equality March was addressed by the leadership of Rwadari Tehreek Mr. Samson Salamat, Mr. Jami Chandio, Mr. Deedar Ahmed Mirani, Mr. Umar Farooq, Rana Muhammed Israel, Professor Saleem Asim, Sabina Malik and Prominent social and religious leadership including Rev. Emmanuel Khokhar, Pastor Saleem Khokhar, Pastor Amjad Niamat, Hafiz Hussain Ahmed Golarvi and Dr. Sharjeel Advocate.

Speaking to the Rally Chairman Rwadari Tehreek Mr. Samson Salamat expressed grave concerns over the deep rooted religious discrimination and forms of inequality, trends of hate speech, instigation and provocation against minorities on the pretext of false blasphemy allegations and the consistent incidents of forced conversion of Hindu and Christian teen-aged girls.

Mr. Samson Salamat said that “The Pakistani citizens who belong to minority communities are compelled to feel insecure, under threat and are in sheer disappointment as their voices remain unheard and unattended despite deteriorating situation of their rights. In particular, the minorities have been consistently demanding legislation to stop the abduction, forced conversion and forced marriages of girls belonging to minority communities and concrete policy and strategy to stop the misuse of blasphemy laws which is consistently being used to persecute and attack the minorities but their voices remain unheard.

Mr. Jami Chandio in his speech said that “religious discrimination is institutionalized and deep rooted and the citizens belonging to religious minorities are generally forced to menial jobs where they are highly socially discriminated such as sanitary workers, sever-men, domestic workers, brick-kiln workers but nothing concrete has been done to stop discrimination against them and for their uplift”. “The resolve of the issues of minorities are through political process,

however this is very unfortunate that power corridors are even without the true and genuine representation of the religious minorities due to ineffective representation at all tier of democratic system of Pakistan including at local government, provincial assemblies and national assembly, because the minority voters are not being asked about their choice for their representation, but rather their representatives are picked up by the political parties” Mr.  Jami Chandio added.

Vice Chairman Rwadari Tehreek Mr. Deedar Ahmed Mirani presented the following Charter of Demand for the Protection and Promotion of Minority Rights at the Equality March and called upon the attention of Federal and Provincial Governments, State Institutions, political parties, media and civil society to seriously look into the demands and recommendations:

a) The speech of the Founder of Pakistan of 11th August 1947 to the Constituent Assembly should be made part of the Preamble of the Constitution of Pakistan and should also be included in the curriculum of the educational institutions. The Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah during his first address to the Constituent Assembly of Pakistan, said “We are all citizens and equal citizens of one state….Now I think we should keep that in front of us as our ideal, and you will find that in course of time Hindus would cease to be Hindus and Muslims would cease to be Muslims, not in the religious sense, because that is the personal faith of each individual, but in the political sense as citizens of the State.

b) Constitutional Reforms Package inequality on the basis of religion should be eliminated from the Constitution of Pakistan and all citizens should be guaranteed equal status as citizen.

c) The System of Proportional Representation (Selection System) to fill the reserve seats of religious minorities in the National and Provincial Assemblies should be abolished and a scheme should be introduced with the Joint Electorate System to allow the religious minorities voters to allow their representatives according to their own will.

d) Stop the Misuse of Blasphemy Laws which is a constant threat to the lives and properties of the religious minorities.

e) Enact effective laws to ban and stop forced conversion with workable implementation mechanism and those involved in forced conversion should be apprehended.

f) An effective De-radicalization plan should be made which should include the ban on hate speech, elimination of biased material from the curriculum, ban and action against all terrorist outfits, their financiers, facilitators and supporters and de-weatherization policy.

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