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Web Desk
December 11, 2019

Sindh govt opposes forced conversion of religion: Murad Ali Shah


Web Desk
Wed, Dec 11, 2019

KARACHI: Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah on Wednesday said that the provincial government has enacted a large number of laws to ensure protection of human rights but due to weaknesses in the system they have not been implemented in true letter and spirit. 

“Being a chief minister, I am under oath to protect human rights as enshrined in the constitution of 1973, therefore I have always been striving to upheld human rights irrespective of cast, religion and sex.

“This is the lesson our great leader Shaheed Zulfikar Ali Bhutto taught to the people of Pakistan through the constitution. The preamble of the constitution emphasizes on human right and freedom of speech," he added. 

This he said while speaking at a seminar entitled “Human Rights Commitments: Challenges & Way forward” organized by PILER here at a local hotel. The seminar was attended by human rights activities, members of civil society, lawyers, doctors, students and top of it representatives of transgender community.

The chief minister said that freedom of speech has been guaranteed in the constitution but “what happens after delivering the speech has not been guaranteed,” he said in a lighter mood and went on saying ‘the politicians had the ability to bear the bashing but “this must be within the framework of moralities and respect,” he said and added in lighter mood “the politicians also enjoy human right.”

Murad Ali Shah, giving an oblique reference to PTI government and their provincial and federal leaders, said that some of the politicians terming all the others as `thieves’ were operating their politics but this was not acceptable in the civilized society.

Referring to the protest and manhandling of a provincial minister, the chief minister said that it was against the spirit of the human rights. “You have every right to stage peaceful demonstration but have no right to disrespect, manhandle and insult someone,” he said.

I am in favour of student unions: Murad Ali Shah

The chief minister replying to a question from the audience, said that he as a student had witnessed the performance of students union and also witnessed ban on them. 

“I am in favour of student unions because they are the nurseries to produce political leaders and activities. The trade union means to protect the rights of students, ensure proper classes in the educational institutions, conduct their examination in time and involve in extra-curricular activities and engage in cultural and social activities,” he said.

The chief minister said that there was still a strong opposition against the restoration of the student unions because they consider them as a revival of negative activities. “This is why I have directed the standing committee of provincial assembly on law invite all the stake holders, including students, teachers, educationists, lawyers, parents, social workers and others to seek their input for framing the best law for Students Union,” he said.

 Interacting to another Hari leader who said that there was no concept of `account keeping’ between the landlord and the hari in tenancy act, the chief minister said that in 1977 when martial law was imposed and his father was arrested he had started looking after the lands of his father. “I used to keep record of each and everything with our peasants and always kept them happy,” he said and added “there must be a contract between the landlord and the peasant and its complete account should be maintained.” He added that the government through a law has given social protection to agricultural workers and it would be implemented in true letter and spirit.

"Journalists and politicians operate together"

To another question, the chief minister said that his government had released payment to the owners of the newspapers and media houses on the condition that they would release salaries of their employees. “The media house owners are not our subordinates but to some extent they have made us their subordinates, therefore we can’t force them,” he said and added the media has also violated its self-imposed code of conduct by printing and airing baseless news items. “I am with you unconditionally but you must respect your rights and the rights of people in the government.

He said that the journalists and the politicians always operate together, therefore we must respect each other.

To another question, the chief minister said that he would work out a plan to call an APC of youth so that dialogue on their issues, including educational, recreational, acceptability, genders issues and such others could be discussed at length. He said being a government all the recommendation to be prepared in the APC would be implemented.

"Police not treating transgenders as human beings" 

The chief minister interacting the representatives of transgender in the seminar agreed that the police were not treating them as human beings. “We have given you equal rights to compete for government jobs on merit and avail the quota we have reserved for you in all the government departments at 0.5 percent ratio of the total available jobs.

Mr Shah directed all the government departments to treat member of transgender society with respect and on the equality basis. “This is what our religion teaches us and what the constitutions says,” he said.

He told them that he would be interacting with them to resolve their issues and would help them in making them effective and useful member of the society.

Mr Shah said that his government has made best legislation but there was an issue of implementation. “I accept that the implementation of the laws enacted earlier have always been a glaring issue for the government,” he said and added the bureaucracy has almost stopped working for certain reasons. He added that he would prepare a work plan to implement all the law his government has enacted.

Sindh CM on forced conversions

 To another question, the chief minister said that there was need of a law law for conversion of religion. The chief minister was suggested by a member of Hindu Community presented in the seminar that the right of `conversion of the religion’ should be with government not with an individual. He had suggested the government that when a person wanted to change his religion he/she must appear before a deputy commissioner or judge and file his application for the change of religion.

The chief minister said that forced conversion was unlawful under the constitution. This was not acceptable but change of religion with sweet will of a person was right of an individual. “I’ll study the law to ascertain whether this right should be given to the government to allow somebody to change his/her religion or it may rest with the incumbent.

Mr Shah said that his government has enacted forced conversion of religion law but a mistake had emerged there that 18-year age was fixed for a person to change his or her religion with his or her sweet will. 

“This was opposed by the society; therefore, it was withdrawn.

 Mr Shah, to another question from the audience said that his government has arrested child marriage delinquents. “The Sindh government has always taken action against child marriage, marriage of an elderly person with a girl child, forced marriage, selling of girls for purpose of marriage and have given protection to women and girls,” he said.