Tuesday May 28, 2024

A political shift

By Dr Ramesh Kumar Vankwani
April 18, 2018

I was elected as a member of the National Assembly from the PML-N’s platform in 2013 under the leadership of Nawaz Sharif. I had laid the foundation for the Pakistan Hindu Council in 2005 – to work for social welfare regardless of any political affiliations.

In 2014, I approached the Supreme Court for the rights of non-Muslims communities. But I felt that the PML-N had failed to fulfil the promises made before the general election of 2013. After a series of hearings regarding minority rights, the Supreme Court announced its historic decision on June 19, 2014 to constitute a national council for minority rights. Unfortunately, the court’s directives could not be implemented practically. Despite clear court orders, no taskforce was assigned to protect religious sites and little was done to exclude hate material regarding non-Muslims from the curriculum.

I demanded that the chairman of Evacuee Trust Property Board should, as a matter of principle, be a Hindu. According to the Liaquat-Nehru Pact, India always appoints an Indian Muslim minister. Similarly, there is a Muslim in Israel to look after evacuee property. I proposed the name of former chief justice Rana Bhagwan Das as the chairman of the board. However, Sidiqul Farooq was appointed due to his political affiliations. I appealed to the Supreme Court and the chairman was terminated. The apex court ordered that a non-Muslim should be appointed for the post.

I believed that the Panama case was an international matter, and former PM Nawaz Sharif and his family must deal with it in court. I was in favour of accepting what the courts decided, regardless of the outcome of the case. I raised concerns when Information Minister Marriyum Aurangzeb issued unwarranted remarks about the Hindus.

In fact, the Supreme Court is a ray of hope for Pakistanis, especially the vulnerable non-Muslims. As time went by, it was becoming difficult to support the PML-N’s narrative of confrontation. On the one hand, the PML-N raised slogans about the sanctity of votes and, on the other, refused to accept the power of the vote when it came to appointing a new Senate chairman and the in-house changes that took place in Balochistan. Why didn’t it adopt a realistic approach? Amid these circumstances, when PTI leadership approached me to join the PTI, I decided to do so against corruption, for my respect to the judiciary and for rule of law.

The writer is a member of the National Assembly and patron-in-chief of the Pakistan Hindu Council.

Twitter: @RVankwani