islamabad - Federal Minister for Information and Broadcasting Syed Ali Zafar on Tuesday said that the government of Pakistan deems all of its citizens equal.

He further said, “We cannot allow any sort of discrimination on the basis of belief and religion towards any citizen of Pakistan.”

He said this while speaking at a consultative meeting ‘Minority Rights, Freedom of Religion or Belief-Faith for Rights’, held by National Commission for Human Rights (NCHR) and Potohar Organization for Development Advocacy (PODA), in collaboration with European Union (EU). 

Zafar said that religion or belief of an individual is their personal choice and therefore, the government was all set to challenge a recent decision of Islamabad High Court (IHC) that was quite discriminatory in nature.

He said that extremism in Pakistan thrived as the aftermath of the Afghan War.

 “Now is the time to fight this menace in collaboration with the civil society, “said the Minister.  Anne Marchal, EU’s representative in Pakistan on the occasion said that EU would support every effort and endeavour in Pakistan that would aim at ensuring the provision of human rights in Pakistan. She said that the GSP+ Status to Pakistan was linked with ensuring the implementation of 27 HR conventions.

The representatives of religious minorities on the occasion lamented that mixing religion with politics in Pakistan has resulted in numerous problems for religious minorities in Pakistan.

Shafique Chaudary, representative of NCHR opined that every struggle of human rights should be based on non-discrimination and freedom of faith. He said that our efforts were aimed at ending all sorts of discrimination including political and cultural discrimination. Fazila Aliani, NCHR member from Balochistan on the occasion said that we need to change the context of viewing the situation of human rights.

Hence, we should ask how abuse and violations of human rights are taking place even today despite efforts at various levels. Kaukab Jehan, Executive Director PODA earlier informed the participants about the objectives of holding this consultative meeting and said emphasised on the need for a national debate on human rights.