Minister vows legislation to discourage use of the word Isai for Christians
“I will move legislation soon to stop Christians from being referred to as Isais,” Minister for Ports and Shipping Kamran Michael said on Thursday.
“It is important to work on changing social behaviours towards minorities so that they are duly respected and protected,” the minister said at an event held to mark the International Day for Minorities and Peace.
The Bargad Organisation for Youth Development had arranged the event in collaboration with Umeede Jawan, the Young Parliamentarians Forum, the Punjab Youth Parliamentary Caucus and the Youth Department. Students from several schools and colleges attended the conference with the theme: Green is for white.
“On a number of issues there are good laws in existence but implementation has been lacking. All of us must play our role in this regard,” Michael said.
Education and Youth Affairs Minister Rana Mashood stressed the need for promoting equality in the society. “The world does not recognise us by our religions or sects. They see us as Pakistanis,” he said.
The minister talked about initiatives that the government had taken to promote education. He said the Punjab Education Endowment Fund had helped deserving students receive good quality education. He also highlighted government’s efforts to promote tourism.
Minorities Affairs and Human Rights Minister Khalil Tahir Sindhu said the government had taken several steps to curb extremism and hate speech to avoid mob violence against minorities. “There is need for ending the root cause of all forms of discriminations against minorities,” the minister said.
Sindhu said the prime minister favoured steps to discourage the use of derogatory language against Christians.
Finance Minister Ayesha Ghaus Pasha said she was always available to listen to problems faced by minority communities.
Bargad Executive Director Sabiha Shaheen said her organisation’s aim was to build public policy imperatives for the freedom of religion and to ensure equal citizenship rights for all. “We aim to provide a platform to support the National Action Plan against terrorism,” she said.
Asif Aqeel, a rights activist, said government advertisements saying only non-Muslims would be considered for the posts of sweepers were inappropriate. “Why can’t Muslims do such jobs?”
The organisers of the event appealed to the youth to support their campaign for earning more respect for minority communities. Participants of the conference undertook to educate at least 100 people each about minority rights. They also participated in a Selfie Video campaign giving their opinions on how they could promote peace.
The Interactive Resource Centre (IRC) held a theatrical performance on the bombing of churches in Youhanabad earlier this year.
The students also danced to the drum beat by Goonga Saeen.
MPAs Mary Gill and Sardar Vikas Hassan Mokal also spoke on the occasion.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 9th, 2015.