Speakers want religious intolerance curbed and human rights advanced

By Bureau report
April 24, 2024
Participants pose for a group photo duringthe moot titled “Strengthening Democracy: Delivering on Pledges for Human Rights.”organised by the Centre for Social Justice (CSJ) on April 23, 2024. — Facebook/Centre For Social Justice

PESHAWAR: The speakers at a conference here on Tuesday urged the government to make efforts to curb religious intolerance and advance human rights.


The Centre for Social Justice (CSJ) organised the moot titled “Strengthening Democracy: Delivering on Pledges for Human Rights.” Human rights activists and representatives from political parties attended the event.

Among the speakers were Peter Jacob, Bishop Earnest Jacob, Suneel Malik, Augustine Jacob, Nasir William, Aasiya Jehangir, a social worker, Dr Khadim Hussain of Awami National Party (ANP), former MPA Wazir Zada, Dr Saveera Parkash of Pakistan People’s Party (PPP), Shakeel Waheedullah of Qaumi Watan Party (QWP), Dr Nadeem of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), journalists Mehmood Jan Babar and Muhammad Faheem and others.

Peter Jacob, the executive director of the CSJ, said that the establishment of an inquiry commission was imperative to identify factors and hold those actors accountable for inciting violence and misusing the blasphemy laws.

Dr Khadim Hussain of ANP highlighted systemic barriers hindering the equality of human rights for citizens. He mentioned disparities in citizenship status, unequal distribution of resources, poor governance, terrorism, and religious intolerance.

He highlighted that the entrenched discrimination within governance structures perpetuated divisive attitudes based on religious, ethnic, racial, linguistic and gender identities.

Bishop Earnest Jacob asked the political parties to prioritize fulfilling their pledges to the electorate made in the election manifesto and take concrete steps to address the human rights issues.Dr Saveera Parkash of the PPP encouraged citizens to collectively raise their voices against human rights violations.

“The legislators should effectively address the concerns of citizens within legislative assemblies and party platforms to address human rights issues,” said the young doctor from the Hindu community who came to the limelight when the party awarded her the ticket to contest the recent general elections for the provincial assembly seat from her hometown of Buner in KP.

A former PTI MPA from Kalash valley of Chitral, Wazir Zada, voiced support for the demands, including a law to end child marriage and forced faith conversions, the constitution of a statutory National Commission for Minorities Rights and the adoption of rules for facilitating jail remission for minority prisoners for studying their religion, which would improve implementation of human rights of minorities.

Shakeel Waheedullah of QWP said religious minorities were equal in rights and dignity and stressed the need for sincere efforts to ensure fair treatment and opportunities for all citizens without discrimination. Suneel Malik emphasized the collective responsibility to uphold principles of equality, justice, and inclusion for all citizens.

Nasir William called upon political parties in power in the federal capital and provinces to honour their pledges and promote minorities” rights which, he said, would contribute to fostering social cohesion, inclusion, and fair representation.

A senior journalist, Mehmood Jan Babar said that citizens were divided based on diverse identities and groups. He said religion was used for political gains and communities exploited.Another mediaman, Muhammad Faheem, asked minorities to assert their political influence to prevent continued neglect in decision-making processes.