NCHR achieves landmarks in protecting non-Muslims’ rights

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Daily-wage employees of CDA, Sahiwal regularized; discriminatory ads banned in newspapers

Zubair Qureshi

Owing to the efforts of the National Commission for Human Rights (NCHR), the provincial governments of Punjab, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan have imposed complete ban on the discriminatory advertisements in newspapers seeking ‘non-Muslim’ employees against the vacancies of sanitary workers, cleaners and sweepers, etc.

Led by Chairperson Rabiya Javeri Agha, the commission has achieved some milestones in safeguarding the rights of the marginalized and the underprivileged.

According to Member (Minorities) of the NCHR, Manzoor Masih, the commission by exercising its powers of suo moto has taken up cases such as forced marriages of the Hindu girls of Sindh, plight of the daily wage workers in Sahiwal and Islamabad, discrimination against Sikhs and Ahmadis, etc. in some of them action has already been taken while progress is underway in the rest, he said.

Referring to the case of 400 daily-wage sanitary workers of the Capital Development Authority, Manzoor Masih said the commission took notice of the daily protest staged by these sanitary workers outside the National Press Club and he was assigned by the Chairperson to look into the matter and resolve their issue. “I called the CDA high ups and held meetings with them and finally, they agreed to regularize all of them,” he said. Similarly, sanitary workers of Sahiwal were also regularized by the Municipal Committee of the city, he said.

With regard to the discriminatory advertisements in the newspapers seeking the Christians or Non-Muslims only, he said more than 90 per cent posts of sanitary workers and sweepers are occupied by Christians and the government departments earlier mentioned “non-Muslim” as eligibility criteria for these jobs.

The NCHR, Civil Society Organizations) and human rights activists raised the and the provinces finally banned these ads and directed all the provincial departments and attached entities not to mention religion as eligibility criteria for these or any other posts. .

Pakistan has certain international commitments, said Manzoor Masih, and they should be honored. It may be mentioned here that in Punjab, Director General of the Public Relations filters all such advertisements received from the administrative departments and refers those with discriminatory content back to the departments concerned for rectification.

We have been voicing our concerns over such demeaning ads as they were not only against the Constitution of Pakistan but also International Conventions, he said adding the NCHR has raised the issue with Sindh also and hoped a positive response would come from the Sindh government soon.

Manzoor Masih attributed the achievement to the chairperson Rabiya Javeri Agha and fellow members of the commission for extending their full support to end discrimination against religious minorities. He hoped Sindh would also ban such discriminatory ads soon.

Another important achievement was reinstatement of four Ahmadi students who were expelled from Pakistan’s Attock district on the grounds that they belonged to a minority community.

The students who were in grade 3, 6, 9 and 10 were expelled a couple of months ago through an order signed by the Principal of Educators Branch in Mithial, District Attock. Manzoor Masih said as the matter was brought to his notice, he took the suo moto and contacted the Principal of The Educators, Kusoom Awan who admitted the kids were expelled after some parents of the students complained about their being from the Ahmadi community.

Since the NCHR has the powers to look into all discriminatory matters and can direct action, we directed the school head to take the students back and refrain from any such violations of law, he said. I am pleased to inform you that the matter has been resolved and the students are back in their previous classes, he said.

 

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