Public Sensitization: Solution to Misuse of Blasphemy Laws

The Senate Standing Committee on Human Rights unanimously adopted a recommendation to establish a National Coordination Committee within the Ministry of Human Rights, with representation from all provinces and police departments.

This was decided after the standing committee convened on Tuesday to address critical concerns regarding the misuse of blasphemy laws and to ensure the welfare of minority communities.

The National Coordination Committee is meant to work on drafting Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) to effectively handle issues affecting minorities.

Chaired by Senator Walid Iqbal, the discussions were held in light of the recent incidents of vandalism targeting churches and homes in Jaranwala. Deliberations focused on measures for the rehabilitation of affected individuals and the restoration of damaged buildings.

Speaking to, Senator Walid said that the focus of the meeting was on the Jaranwala incident and its implications.

During the meeting, the secretary of Human Rights emphasized that since the enactment of the 18th Amendment, the implementation of safeguards for minority protection has become a provincial responsibility.

However, he underscored the critical role of the Human Rights Ministry in facilitating collaboration between stakeholders, including law enforcement agencies, religious leaders, and minority representatives for formulating SOPs.

Senator Irfanul Haq Siddiqui emphasized that while the Ministry’s recommendations largely pertain to law enforcement agencies, the fundamental issue lies in addressing the primitive measures and mindsets of individuals. He stressed the need for public sensitization on tolerance and democratic norms.

It was observed that incidents like the one in Jaranwala often arise from personal enmity, resulting in widespread destruction. Senator Seemee Ezdi from PTI, highlighted the findings of the National Commission for Human Rights, advocating for immediate action to prevent the further marginalization of minority communities and the abuse of blasphemy laws.

Regarding the blasphemy law, Ezdi proposed a reevaluation. She noted that such incidents were not as prevalent in the past, indicating a need to scrutinize whether any aspects had been overlooked. She also mentioned that many people were hesitant to discuss this issue.

PML-N Senator Irfan Siddiqui, however, disagreed with Ezdi’s perspective, asserting that without a law, there would be no means to control such situations. He emphasized the necessity of a law to prevent every potential incident, ensuring that the path was not obstructed.

Caretaker Federal Minister for Human Rights, Khalil George, acknowledged concerns raised by the committee about his absence and assured that the matter would remain a priority until the affected community is fully supported.

The committee inquired about the Minister’s satisfaction with the state of human rights enforcement in the country. Minister George acknowledged room for improvement and called for collective efforts towards this end.

The meeting concluded abruptly in accordance with parliamentary tradition, following the sad news of Senator Rana Maqbool Ahmed’s passing.

The committee members have further reserved their remarks and will be sticking to the unanimous statement released by the Standing Committee.

Senator Walid Iqbal told that the committee will be regrouping in the coming few weeks and will address the events of Jaranwala in-depth.


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