Minorities stress the need for direct participation of non-Muslims in elections

Peshawar: Participants in a meeting on minorities have stressed the need for direct participation of non-Muslims in elections instead of their selection in order to resolve minorities’ problems.

They expressed these views while addressing at discussion on “Religious Freedom and Human Rights”, organized by South Asia Partnership of Pakistan (SAPP) here at a local hotel on Tuesday. Representatives of various faith practiced, and political parties in KP, were participated in the panel discussion.

Among prominent, include ANP senior leader Mian Iftikhar Hussain, Iftikhar Hussain of Awami National Party (ANP), Abd-ul-Jamil Jan of Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-F (JUI-F), Mukhtar Bach of Nation Party (NP), Agha Bakhtiar Awami Worker Ittehad (AWE), senior journalist Shamim Shahid, Haroon Sarb Diyal, chairman of All Pakistan Hindu Rights Movement (APHRM), Pastor Shehzad Murad, Rafiq Javed and Hayat Bhatti of Christian community, Sardar Charan Jeet Singh, Fida Hussain and Shahida Shah.

Participants said although the Constitution provides them equal rights, they found the implementation purely cosmetic, resulting in token representation of minorities in the national and provincial assemblies. They also demanded a separate electoral process in the upcoming elections whereby minorities can choose their own candidates through ballot.

Participants on the occasion resolved that the staunch support for religious freedom and giving for constitutional rights to Non-Muslim communities in the country. They viewed that both the minorities and Muslims apparently affected by terrorism and extremism, which also earned a bad name of Pakistan in the rest of the world. The participants highlighted the issues being faced by Non-Muslims communities, particularly relating of quota parliament, education and health sectors, economic deprivation, and others.

The panellists strongly supported the demand of minorities to give them all due right, especially freedom to Non-Muslims residing in Federally Administered Tribal Areas to perform their religious obligations in a freely manner. They also urged the Federal and provincial government to make amendments in laws, relating inheritance, and marriage with consultation of representatives of minorities, and asked to give possession right of property of Non-Muslims in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa in order to live life according to the constitution of the country.

Leaders of political parties also agreed that they would put suggestions and recommendations of religious minorities before leadership of their respective parties to inculcate in their manifesto. They also pledged the support to jointly work for protection of right of Non-Muslims.

Earlier, Fida Hussain, Regional Program Coordinator SAPP and Shahida Shah gave a detailed presentation regarding minorities’ problems and national and international guarantees provided to them.

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