ISLAMABAD - MNAs from treasury and opposition in Wednesday’s National Assembly sitting unanimously expressed their resolve to protect the rights of minorities in the country.

The lawmakers from both sides of the aisle strongly condemned the act of making caricatures on social media against minorities.  About the controversial matter regarding the construction of a temple in Islamabad, the government informed the house that the matter had been referred to the Council of Islamic Ideology (CII).

“In order to take an opinion about the construction of a temple with public money, the matter has been referred to Council of Islamic Ideology,” said the Minister for Religious Affairs Noor-ul-Haq Qadri, responding to the concerns raised by members from religio-political parties. The Minister said that there was no question about its construction as the real issue was whether or not it could be built using public money.

“No need of conducting debate on the rights of minorities, they are fully protected,” he said, and shared with the house that some members from the minority had contacted him and asked him to arrange funds for its construction. 

“I told them that I had limited funds for renovating existing places of worship and referred the matter to the Prime Minister,” he said, mentioning that there was no progress on it.Minister further said that the decision of CII would be accepted by all including Prime Minister Imran Khan. He said construction work on the temple has been stopped as its map has yet to be passed.

Regarding the rights of minorities, the Minister said that there was a lot of respect for minorities in the country. “Rights of minorities are being cared for, keeping in line Quran and Sunnah, the constitution of Pakistan and our Islamic history,” he said, mentioning that Pakistan compared to countries in its surrounding has a comparatively better attitude with minorities.  Minister for Human Rights Shireen Mazari assured the house that the government will take action on the derogatory caricature and present a report in the house.

“Our government strongly condemns the act of making the caricature and surely will take action on it,” she said Pakistan had also raised matter of sacrilegious caricatures against Muslim with European Union. “How can we allow this act in our country, it is our duty to protect them [minorities],” said the minister. She said that it was “unacceptable” to deprive minorities of their places of worship and the rights granted to them under the Constitution. PML-N` s parliamentary leader Khwaja Muhammad Asif took lead to draw the attention of the house towards the campaign against minorities in social media.

He was of the view that there was a planned campaign on social media on this matter. “It is our duty to ensure protection of minorities, and the negative impression against minorities should be dispelled,” he commented.  The PML-N MNA strongly reacted when he was interrupted by a religio-political party Akbar Chitrali during his speech.

The member from MMA raised objection over the statement of Khwaja Asif about all religions being equal. On it, Khwaja Asif said that he was talking about the right of the minorities.

PPP-P` Naveed Qamar supported the matter raised by PML-N about protecting the rights of minorities. “Our religion, constitutional gives rights to the minorities,” he said condemning caricatures against minorities on social media.

MMA`s senior member Maulana Akbar Chitrali supported the concerns for protecting the rights of minorities. About the construction of the temple, Maulana raised concerns for building the temple with public money. “There is no example in the Islamic history for building a new temple or worship places for non-Muslims,” he said.

-RUMPUS OVER FAKE DEGREE

OF PILOTS-

The house witnessed rumpus over the matter regarding fake degrees of pilots allegedly appointed in the previous government era. The opposition members, on call-attention notice, raised concerns for the suspension of PIA in Europe.  Minister for Aviation Ghulam Sarwar Khan, responding to the concerns, was optimistic that the suspension of PIA flights’ operation to the Europe would be restored after completion of the cleansing operation.

Minister said that there was a fake appointment in the organization in previous government era. Inviting criticism from opposition, he said fake degree pilots were appointed in the PIA. “We would clean it,” he said, mentioning that a transparent inquiry was underway into the affairs of PIA. He shared with the house that 28 pilots of the PIA had been dismissed from service, while the commercial licenses of 26 had been cancelled. He claimed that the Civil Aviation Agency was being revamped and restructured.