Every day one can come across a news item in the leading English dailies regarding some workshop or lecture being organized by any local NGO in collaboration with any international NGO on the topic of “Religious minorities and their rights in Pakistan” in any five start hotel or somewhere else. Efforts are being made by these foreign funded NGOs based in big cities to sensitize our individuals as well society to religious minorities’ rights. This is indeed a positive initiative but much more is desired in this neglected area akin to gender and women rights sensitization because fulfilling the rights of minorities is a key element of good governance.

Our Constitution and our norms and values guarantee the respect and promotion of religious minorities living in Pakistan. But unfortunately, the religious minorities face severe discrimination in some social and professional areas especially in their employment. Nowhere in the country is their specified job quota is strictly observed. So much so even, the NGOs which advocate the rights of the religious minorities and marginalized and our educational institutions such do not prefer to hire the talent of religious minorities . I personally know several gifted, male and female individuals, belonging to religious minorities such as the Hindus, Christian, Jews, Bahais, Sikhs are jobless and many have become over age .

It is suggested that a “Watch Group” comprising proponents of interfaith harmony, human rights activists, media men, intellectuals and humanist and forward thinking bureaucrats, may be formed to monitor observance of Religious minorities , marginalized and rural women rights across Pakistan, this Group can carry out countrywide visits, if required, to asset the state of religious minorities rights, among others.

Is there anyone to sensitize the local NGOs, funded by foreign INGOs, embassies and High Commissions and humanity caring organizations, to provide legal access to the minorities, marginalized and women in the upper and lower regions in Sindh as well as in other parts of Pakistan?

HASHIM ABRO,

Islamabad, October 1.