Press Release

PAK SHOULD ALLOW LIBERAL THOUGHTS TO FLOURISH

 PAK SHOULD ALLOW LIBERAL THOUGHTS TO FLOURISH

 

RELIGIOUS LEADERS BLAME PAK HARDLINERS FOR MINORITIES' PLIGHT

 

New Delhi, Sep 16: Religious leaders, human rights activists, lawyers and inter-faith academics have blamed hardliners and anti-social elements for the plight of minorities in Pakistan and have urged Islamabad to do more for such affected religious groups and allow liberal thoughts to flourish in the interests of its own stability.

 

“Pakistan has not yet found a modus vivendi to come to terms with its pluralism. We will have to seek answers in the idea of Pakistan itself for the miserable condition of the minorities there”, former Delhi Lieutenant Governor Vijai Kapoor said at a Symposium on the Plight of Minorities organized by the Global Foundation for Civilizational Harmony (India) at the Indian Law Institute here last evening.

 

He said though Pakistan founder  Mohammad Ali Jinnah had spoken about co-existence of religions, minorities were being “cleansed” in that country.

 

Citing several instances of institutionalized discrimination against the minorities in Pakistan, Kapoor said it was the responsibility of the majority community in any country to safeguard the interests of the minorities.

 

In Indian Constitution, there were specific provisions including Articles 29 and 30 aimed at protecting the minorities, he said, adding it was in Pakistan's own interest to become a modern society in which liberal thoughts would flourish.

 

Senior journalist and GFCH India Director K G Suresh said at the root of the problems faced by minorities in Pakistan, Bangladesh and other countries lay the inability of the state and the majority population to accept diversity of faiths.

 

“Only acceptance and celebration of the pluralistic and diverse nature of mankind can ensure peace and harmony”, he said.

 

Advocate Vivek Goyal outlined the constitutional and legal provisions aimed at protecting the interests of minorities and Anti-Blasphemy laws that were applicable to all communities in Pakistan but said these provisions were being misused to victimize the minorities and grab their property.

 

He said the population of Hindus in Pakistan had gone down sizably over the past six decades.

Prof M.M. Verma, President of the Inter-Faith Foundation, who moderated the session, said the Koran teaches peace and brotherhood and a sizeable section of the majority community in Pakistan believed in peaceful co-existence.

 

Syed Babar Ashraf, Secretary, All India Ulema and Mashaikh Board, said Islam does not teach hate.

 

"A Muslim is a person in whose hand the entire humanity is safe," he said and held the Saudi-backed Wahabi brand of Islam responsible for distorting religion. Sufi Sunnis, who believed in Dargahs, were also high on the targets of these extremists, who just wanted to gain political supremacy the world over, he said.

 

Ashraf said that the Sufi tradition had a great influence in the spread of Islam in the Indian subcontinent but its message of harmony was sought to be distorted by the Salafis and Wahabis.

 

Ravindra Nagar, Chief Acharya (priest) of Delhi's Birla Temple, said special care should be taken of minorities in all the countries.

 

Adish Aggarwala, president, International Council of Jurists, said there was no dispute that minorities were facing problems in Pakistan but it was a small section of extremists that was creating problems.

 

He said there had been conversions among minorities to Islam to protect the honour of girls.

 

Human Rights activist Joseph Gathia said that false complaints were being made under blasphemy law in Pakistan by people who were eyeing the property of minorities.

 

"Minorities are living in fear. They cannot speak. There is systemic discrimination. Infant mortality rate among minorities is high as pregnant women find it difficult to get admission in hospitals. It is not easy for children to get admission in schools and they are given low grades deliberately," he said.

 

Gathia, however, said there is a growing feeling among a section of Pakistan's population that blasphemy laws were wrong.

 

A.K. Merchant, Bahai leader and National Trustee, Lotus Temple, said systems of governance in the world were inadequate to meet the challenges posed by insanity of violence and a profound transition was necessary.

 

Kamal Khatri, an activist working among Pakistani Hindu migrants, said the need of the hour was to ensure the protection, well being and safe return of the large number of migrants.

 

 

(Devdutt Chakravarty)

Sub Editor

Global Foundation for Civilizational Harmony (India)

Mob.: 9818617350

 

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