Political parties urged to address minorities’ issues

By Our Correspondent
January 28, 2023

LAHORE:The political parties have been urged to invest in efforts to promote social cohesion and address the human rights issues faced by marginalised groups. The speakers demanded this while addressing a seminar on the topic of “Political parties’ priorities and minorities’ rights” here on Friday. The seminar was organised by Centre for Social Justice (CSJ).


Known speakers such as Peter Jacob, Mazhar Abbas, Mehnaz Rehman, Anis Haroon, Sheema Kirmani, and Justice Kailash Nath Kohli addressed the seminar where Lubna Jerar Naqvi performed as moderator.

CSJ’s report titled “Promises to Keep & Miles to Go” based on the analysis of pledges, actions and performance regarding minorities rights made by political parties was launched. According to report, the political parties in the government and opposition failed to implement their pledges fully in the last three parliamentary tenures.

The study found that PTI fulfilled none out of five promises made in election manifesto 2018, though it made partial progress on two promises. PMLN failed to materialise nine out of ten promises while PPP partially implemented one out of eight promises.

The study showed that one-third of the pledges in parties’ manifestos throughout three election years i.e. 2008, 2013, 2018 were common, including minority representation in ETPB, establishing a statutory minority commission, reviewing curriculum, implementing job quotas and reviewing discriminatory laws. However, the pledges remain unfulfilled. The study revealed that the political parties appear to be reluctant to take measures to address outstanding issues faced by minorities.

The study found that the political parties are increasingly using the language that manifests their aspiration about the empowerment of minorities but while in power, the parties rely on non-legislative means or weak measures, such as; issuing executive notifications instead of passing legislation to introduce affirmative measures. For instance, a law is yet to be enacted to establish a statutory National Commission for Minorities despite it was promised by PTI and PPP. Likewise, a law is yet to be enacted to effectively implement job quotas for minorities in government departments and institutions despite it was pledged by PMLN, PPP and PTI in their election manifestos.

Addressing the seminar, CSJ’s executive director Peter Jacob said that the Centre for Social Justice desires to contribute positively in the very complex situation of political polarisation in Pakistan. Mazhar Abbas said it is sad that political parties failed to fulfill their promises and the elected representatives do not even speak for the rights of marginalised groups. Anis Haroon said that people follow religions and the state is not meant to practice any, in order to effectively fulfill its responsibility to ensure equal rights, opportunities, and treatment for all citizens without any discrimination.

Sheema Kirmani said that implementation of existing laws can only be ensured if social and cultural values are changed with better and enlightened ones. The ruling parties need to stop imposing intolerant thoughts into the general public, she added.

Mehnaz Rehman said that the government needs to invest its resources and energies to inculcate ideals of inclusion and tolerance in the society, and take actions against forces involved in promoting hatred and intolerance in the society.

CSJ’s report titled “Promises to Keep & Miles to Go” which revealed that the Punjab government during 2008 and 2022 introduced 11 policy actions followed by the federal government with nine actions, Balochistan with eight, KP with seven and Sindh with six actions.­