CII wakes up to minorities rights issue

* Agrees that the government should ensure security of minorities


ISLAMABAD: The resolution regarding the protection of minorities was on top of the agenda in Wednesday’s meeting of the Council of Islamic Ideology (CII).
All members of the CII agreed that the government should ensure security of minorities. They reiterated that they will ensure the protection of minorities’ rights by setting guidelines in the coming days, CII Member Maulana Tahir Ashrafi revealed to Daily Times on Wednesday. He lamented that it was unfortunate that constitutional provisions related to the protection of minorities’ rights have not been enforced in the country. Ashrafi said the protection of minorities’ right is an issue of national impottance, and asked representatives of the minority communities to furnish their written recommendations on the matter.
Ramesh Kumar, a National Assembly member, asked the federal government to implement laws for safeguarding the rights of the Hindu community. Speaking at the CII meeting, Kumar said that there is a need to highlight the issues of the minorities. 
The issues should be brought forward for the public on a routine basis to build up the momentum for solving the issues, he said. Giving a breakdown of the population of minorities in the country, Kumar said there are two million Hindus, 1.6 million Sikhs and 1,500 Parsis, and did not put a figure on the vast Christian community. 
While talking to Daily Times, Ramesh Kumar said that so far there are 13 minority seats in parliament, out of which three are held by female members. Kumar had earlier introduced the Constitutional Amendment for Reserved Seats Bill in the parliament. “The reserved seats should be handed over to any member but with a priority for the minorities,” he said. He said that the minorities in Pakistan are living in constant social and administrative pressure. 
The reason no minority member of the NA has completed any significant development project is because of unavailability of the necessary funds, he said. Kumar stated that he is in the process of introducing in parliament a bill for the proposed Hindu Act. He said he has completed the process of consultation with the various pressure groups, the judiciary, the Islamic councils, the non-governmental organisations (NGO) and other stakeholders. He said he wants parliament to foster a healthy debate on the topic. Kumar insisted that the blasphemy laws should stipulate punishments for those who commit heinous crimes against Hinduism in Pakistan. 

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