Activists, scholars and lawmakers have urged the government to initiate a mass campaign to highlight the contributions of minorities towards making of Pakistan.
Preaching the teaching of interfaith harmony and demanding a mass campaign for awareness about minorities’ contributions, a consortium of activists gathered at a one-day ‘National Dialogue on Promotion for Culture of Dialogue in Pakistan’ in Lahore today.
Human Rights and Minorities Affairs Department (HR&MA) Government of Punjab, and Bargad, a youth development organization, initiated this dialogue where participants from all the stakeholders gave their suggestions for a prosperous society.
The dialogue took stock of the minority empowerment package and implementation of a two percent quota for minority students in higher education institutions of Punjab.
Speaking at the occasion, Punjab Human Rights and Minorities Minister Ejaz Alam Augustine said that Punjab Government would soon announce 19,800 jobs for the minorities in a single go because these jobs are unfilled and are carried forward from the past.
He also said that a societal dialogue was the best tool for attaining equal citizenship. The minority should avail the opportunities that the government was providing, he added.
While speaking at the event, Dr. Yaqoob Bangash lamented the government and said, “After Zia ul Haq we are seeing this government where religion is being discussed like this.”
He said, “We have to be realistic, if the government is saying all is well and people are saying all is well, then where is the problem? Somewhere, someone is bluffing.”
“No one wants to hear the harsh truth, but this is high time that the government should start working on what the legislators say when they sit with us,” added Bangash.
The national dialogue consisted of two-panel discussions on ‘minority education quota’ and ‘further research and data collection for equal citizenship and social cohesion’ respectively.
These speakers included youth representatives from different universities including Dr. Asghar Zaidi, vice-chancellor (VC) Government College University; Dr. Zakariya Zakir, VC Okara University; MPA Sadia Sohail; Shaukat Iqbal, country program manager Norwegian Church Aid; Dr Sughra Sadaf, DG PILAAC; Muhammad Zubair, deputy secretary S&GAD, Muhammad Yousaf, deputy secretary HRM&A, and academicians Professor Rubeena Zakir, Dr. Yaqub Bangash and Prof Ashok Kumar; Kashif Aslam NCJP; scholar Hafiz Rashid Mehmood.
The conference was moderated by Noor Imran and Usman Younis.