LAHORE - Minister for Minorities Affairs and Human Rights Khalil Tahir Sandhu has said that all the stakeholders would be consulted while devising mechanism to resolve unaddressed issues of religious minorities.

Addressing a conference on protection of rights of minorities arranged by Citizens Commission for Human Development at a local hotel on Wednesday, the minister stressed the need of engaging civil society organisations to strengthen the interventions of Punjab government. He added that the government was setting up committees at district level for promotion of religious harmony and tolerance.

Sandhu also endorsed the idea of constituting a forum having representation from government departments, parliamentarians, academia and CSOs to improve coordination among all stakeholders and to come up with doable strategies to empower minorities.

CCHD Project Coordinator Tanzeela Altaf said that the purpose of this dialogue was to influence policy makers to bring some concrete strategies to change attitudes of public towards minorities and to develop a sense of acceptance for religious communities.

Westminster Foundation for Democracy Program Manger Ali Imran shared the details of rights of minorities in the constitution. He said that various articles of Pakistan’s constitution guarantee rights of minorities. He said that there was need for formulation and approval of National and Provincial Policies and Minorities Commissions both at federal and provincial level to ensure the protection of minorities.

Center for Human Rights Education Executive Director Semson Salamat said that besides a visible increase in religious minorities’ population there was no increase in seats of minorities in National or Provincial Assemblies which was a matter of concern.

Mehboob Ahmed Khan said that Quais’s speech, made on August 11, should be included as a part of the constitution instead of objective resolution.