LAHORE: During the convention held, participants called upon the government to take measures to include Quaid’s August 11 speech in the Constitution, and to give it a statutory status.

Demands were made to pass laws for persecution against acts of discrimination, particularly on the basis of religion and belief, were made on the basis of Article 20 And 25 of the Constitution. Claiming that there are provisions inside the constitution that are incompatible with fundamental rights, amendments should be made to remove inconsistencies about the equality of rights. 

The Lahore convention to mark national minorities’ day was participated by a large number of civil society organizations including the political parties and jointly organized by Centre for Social Justice (CSJ) and Peace and Development Foundation (PDF) in collaboration with National Commission for Justice and Peace (NCJP), Peaceful Pakistan, Cecil & Iris Chaudhry Foundation (CICF), and Bytes for All (B4A).

Those who participated in the seminar included Farooq Sattar of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement, Qamar Zaman Kaira of PPP, Asiya Nasir of the Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam, Peter Jacob of Centre for Social Justice, Shunila Ruth of the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf, Tariq Gill of Ministry for Human Rights and Minorities Affairs, retired Justice Nasira Javed Iqbal and journalist Imtiaz Alam.

Peter Jacob while addressing the audience said that it is time for us to unite as per the message of Quaid e Azam's 11th August speech. 

Member of NCHR-Punjab Kishwar Awan said, "The word minority is a derogatory word and it should not be used. Its time we should consider everyone a Pakistan and give them equal rights irrespective of what religious belief they hold." 

While Bishop Irfan Jamil said, "Why do we have to remind this country every year what the Christian community has done for Pakistan and we are equal citizens of the country. Jinnah's speech should not be included in the constitution but should also be practiced in our daily lives."

Executive Director-Peace and Development Foundation Romana Bashir said that she doesn't want to be called a minority, but a Pakistani. She shed light on the constitution and said that people do not follow the articles that unite us but aim at focusing on the articles that divide us. 

MPA of PML-N Tariq Gill said, "Its my duty to remind the Muslims of Pakistan that this country is ours too. Otherwise remove the white part from the flag. Christian community has a huge contribution in making Pakistan so they have all the right to live here."

The resolution passed appreciated the designation of Aug 11 as the National Minorities’ Day by the government, saying that the move is symbolic of the vision of Quaid-i-Azam.

The participants in the convention laid forward the following demands in their resolution:

The judgment of the Supreme Court of Pakistan delivered on June 19, 2014 should be implemented in both letter and spirit.

A policy, strategy and plan of action to promote religious and social tolerance were demanded, and a need for laying down the grounds for the punishment and prosecution of acts was established.

The education policy and textbooks for educational institutions must be reviewed to remove discriminations based on religion and to make formal education an instrument of promoting diversity and social harmony.

A regulatory body must be instituted through enactment for proper implementation of job quota reserved for religious minorities. This authority should be equipped with required powers, resources and procedures for a referral and redress mechanism against any grievances. An autonomous and independent statutory National Council for Minorities must be constituted with a mandate to monitor the implementation of rights of minorities, to oversee policies and give advice on policy matters.

Amendments in The Christian Marriage and Divorce Acts should be made to make them comply with human rights standards. Moreover, a common civil code for marriages in communities such as; Baha’is, Parsis and Kalash should be enacted to regulate their matrimonial affairs.

The students belonging to minority religions should be allowed to study their respective religions as alternative to Islamiat, moreover reserved quota should be introduced for admission in education institutions for the students belonging to religious minorities.