Minority Rights In Pakistan
This is a Guest Post.
Posted By Syed Ali Shah (Lecturer Pak-Studies)
Posted By Syed Ali Shah (Lecturer Pak-Studies)
All the states in the world have heterogeneous population having minorities there on the basis of race, creed, language, religion, culture or on the basis of social and political differences. The minorities in a stat e or area have some cultural, political, social, linguistic or religious problems. In past there were no respectable place for theme but with the passage of time their needs and rights were highlighted. Now through out the world and particularly in the modern stats the minorities are consider as equal citizens of the state. There political, social, economic, and religious rights are fully guaranteed through constitutions.
ISLAM AND MINORITIES
Islam is complete code of life. It provides solutions of all the problems faced by mankind. It is Islam which gives legal protection to minorities for the first time. Quran explains the fundamental rights “Haqooq-ul- Ibad”. By following the principles of the holy Quran an ideal society can emerge. The prophet Muhammad (P.B.U.H)is mercy for all people not for Muslims only as he is ‘ RAHMET –UL- ALAMEEN’. As Quran says “And we have sent you as mercy a mercy to the entire world “. (Al-Quran)
Islam provides religious freedom to minorities and emphasis to treat theme as equal citizens of the state. Prophet of Islam stated; “Beware, whoever is cruel and hard on a non Muslim, curtails their rights, burden them with more than their capacity, or takes anything from theme against their will, I (Muhammad) will complain against the person on the DAY OF JUDGMENT”.
In Islamic society all citizens Muslims and non Muslims enjoy equal rights and religion does not become a factor for discrimination. Muslims and non Muslims are equal in eye of law in a Muslim state. Islam does not allow a state or individuals to impose his will or faith on other. It is forbidden in Islam to convert non Muslims in the fold of Islam by force. As according to Quran” there is no compulsion in religion”(2 : 56). As in India the Muslims remained rulers from 712 to 1857 but they never tried to change there their minority into majority. Islam considers non Muslims elements of the society as respectable and equal citizens of the Muslims state. the Non-Muslims minorities are provided the following rights in an Muslim state.
The non Muslims minorities in Muslims countries are free to leave according to there known laws and to maintain their culture. They never be ruled by Islamic laws against their wishes.
The able Muslims are bound to pay Zakat, if they refuse then it is the state duty to collect Zakat from them by force. But the Non-Muslims are exempt from Zakat instead they are bound to pay Juzya, very nominal as compere to Zakat. In turn the state is responsible to provide theme protection internally and from foreign aggression.
Non Muslims are allowed to deal their matters according to their religion. They also allowed to come to Islamic courts for their matters. According to Quran “if they come to you (O Muhammad),judge between them or turn away from them” (5: 42 ).
Islam provides security and protection to properties, places of worships and faith of the minorities in Muslims states and guaranteed full religious freedom. The Prophet of Islam says, “it is not lawful for you to take property of the people of minorities unless you pay for it”.
Islam strictly disagreed to adopt a method of invitation towards non Muslims which affects the religious honour of their religions. To protect their religious honor and independence Islam says never use hard words about their religious matters and religion. They are free to adopt any profession or business like other Muslims. In Muslims states minorities enjoy equal rights of social justice. The state is responsible to provide them social security. The poor, disable and old should be treated as equal to the Muslims.
The last speech of Muhammad (P.B.U.H)is a clear message to all human. That is the best definition of human rights. That is the first modern charter of Fundamental Rights which eliminate all discriminations.
In Europe the status of religious minorities was accepted and legally protection provided to them in the 19th century. First half of the 20th century was a period of distraction, world faced two world wars. In 1945 the world leaders gathered for peace and prosperity. They founded the United Nation Organization for the maintenance of peace.
Universal Declaration of Human Rights
The U.N.O felt to established a global bill of human rights which bound every state in the world to recognize the equal right to life, property, religious freedom, culture and the use of his own language with out any political, economic or religious discrimination. After negotiations the world leaders agreed upon a joint declaration. The
General Assembly adopted the declaration on 10 December 1948. By the adoptions of the Universal Charter of human rights all the people of the world legally got freedom and protection against any sort of discrimination. All the people of a state became equal citizens. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights provided that;
All humans are born free and equal in dignity and respect without any distinction of race, colour, sex, religion, political opinion, national or social origin. Every one has the right of life, liberty, freedom of movement and residence, freedom of thoughts and freedom of opinion.
Every one has the right to freedom of peaceful assembly and association, right of access to service, right to work and free choice of profession. Every one, with out and discrimination has the right to equal pay for equal work. Every one has the right of education and political activities, directly or indirectly.
Minorities in Pakistan
Pakistan came into begins on the basis of ideology. The ideology is based on Islam. According to the Muslims of the sub continent is a separate nation. Although the Muslim community of the South Asia is heterogeneous in nature. The Muslims of South Asia belong to different areas. They have different colours, races they speak different languages and they belong to different sects of Islam having differences with each other on the basis of religion. But the bond of Islam and the definition of Muslim Ummah combined them under one umbrella. According to Dr. Naushad the ideology of Pakistan passes through different phases Dr. Alama Iqbal give it a philosophical exposition , Chaudry Rahmat Ali and his colleagues made the world Pakistan public in 1933 and Quid-e-Azam translated it into political reality.
This political reality was given legal sanction in 1949 by the constitution assembly by passing the Objective Resolution. Quid- e- Azam was well aware of the rights of the minorities he declare that the minorities in Pakistan will have equal rights and they are equal citizens of the state.
Addressing the Punjab Muslim League Conference at lylpure on November 18, 1942 he assured the Christians and Adharom Associations that the right of their communities will be fully safeguarded according to the injunctions from the highest authority, namely Quran, that a community must be treated justly and fairly.
On august 10 1947 in his famous Presidential address to the Constitutional Assembly of Pakistan he said, ”You are free to go to your temples you are free to go to your mosques or any other place of your worship in this state of Pakistan. You may belong to any religion, creed or race that has nothing to do with the business of the state. We are starting with this fundamental principle that we all are citizens and equal citizens of one state. Now we should keep that in front of us as our ideal and you will find that in the course of time Hindus and Muslims would ceased to be Hindus and Muslims not in the religious sense because it is the personal faith of each individual, but I political sense as citizens of the state” (Dar, 1998).
It is very clear that the minorities in Pakistan are the equal citizens. They are equal in respect and honor like the Muslims. In Feb. 1948 Quid-e-Azam stated;
“Islam and its idealism have taught us democracy. It has taught equality of man, justice and fair play to everyone".
According to Islam all human are equal and there is no discrimination. Quid-e-Azam was fully aware of the Islamic teaching he was a man of principles. Basically he was an out standing Barrister-n- Law and in this capacity he highlighted Fundamental Rights for the protection of the minorities. Like Quid-e-Azam, Liaqat Ali Khan also believed that Pakistan should be a progressive, democratic polity founded on Islamic rules of religious tolerance, social welfare and the equal rights of all citizens.
Chairman of the first session of the Constitution Assembly of Pakistan
The inaugural session of the Constitutional Assembly of Pakistan was started in Karachi on 10th of August 1947. On the first day of the session Jogendra Nath Mandal a member of the non Muslim community from East Pakistan, was elected as temporary chairman. On 14th of august 1947 the first cabinet of Pakistan was approved having seven ministers. Among them one was J.N Mandal. He is appointed as minister of Law and Labour. (Khan, 2011). Quid-e-Azam practically proved that the minorities of Pakistan have the equal rights and they are the equal, respectable and responsible citizens.
Liaqat - Nehru minorities pact
After independence problems faced by minorities particularly in India. Pakistan was aware of the problem, to solve the problem Liaqat Ali Khan visited India and signed a treaty with Nehru on 8th April 1950 for the safeguard and protection of minorities. Known as Liaqat – Nehru Pact. The pact provided that the minorities through out Pakistan and India are given complete equality of citizenship, there life, honour, property and culture will be protected. The minorities of both the countries will be given freedom of speech, occupation and worship. Pakistan and India were agreed to set up a recovery offices for recovery of abducted persons. In 1952 8326 non Muslims women and children were recover in Pakistan and handed over to India while 16900 in India which handed over to Pakistan.
The Constitution Assembly of Pakistan passed the Objective Resolution on 12 of march, 1949 which conform the sovereignty to Allah almighty. It was the infra structure of the coming constitution. The Objective Resolution is not silent about the rights of the minorities in Pakistan. According to it ; The minorities should be free to profess and practice there religion. The principles of democracy, freedom, equality, tolerance and social justice shall be fully observed. Adequate provisions should be made for the minorities to profess practice their religion and to develop their culture.
Fundamental rights shall be guaranteed including equality of status, social, economic and political justice. Freedom of thoughts, faith, belief, worship and association shall be guarantee.
The Objective Resolution provided security to the minorities in other words it gave a legal sanction to the words of Quid. The religious elements in Pakistan also emphasis on the rights of minorities. In January 1951 a convention was held in Karachi to prepare a constitutional proposal. The convention was attended by 31 prominent Ulama belonging to different sects of Islam. In there proposed draft the rights of minorities were highlighted as; All the non Muslims shall enjoy full freedom of religion and worship. No citizen shall be deprived of his basic rights on the basis of any discrimination.All the citizens are equal in respect and honour.
1956 and 1962 Constitutions of Pakistan and minorities
On 23 march 1956 the constitution was enforced in the country the Constitution provided the following basic rights to all citizens irrespective of there religion, cast or creed. Security of life and property , freedom to religious practices and worship are provided. Freedom to movement , speech, peaceful assembly, and profession are provided. Freedom of thought, faith, opinion are guaranteed. The constitution of 1956 was abrogated in 1958 by military and introduced latter on the constitution of 1962 in the country. The military government also provided protections to the minorities. The constitution of 1962 also provided the same provisions for the safe guard and protection of the minorities as of the 1956 constitution.
Constitution of 1973 and the rights of the minorities.
The Constitution of 1973 provided to minorities. It laid great emphasis on Fundamental Rights. The Fundamental Rights are given as under; All citizens are equal before law.No person should be deprived of life and liberty.There should be no discrimination on the ground of religion, cast, creed, sex or place of birth.All form of slavery and force labour are prevented. The freedom of speech, expression, association and cultural activities are guaranteed. The freedom of religious teaching of minorities within there institutions are granted. Safeguards against discrimination in government services are provided. Protection to the maintenance and development of the religious institutions of all communities are provided.
In early 50s it was demanded that the Ahmadis be declared as non Muslims on the basis of there belief. Though the movement gained nothing at that time. Then in the Bhutto regime the movement once again started with full swing. Country wide agitations and strikes were started to press the government to declare Ahmadis as non Muslims. Finally Bhutto took the issue to the National Assembly. The National Assembly after the consideration passed the second amendment to the Constitution in September 1974.
Electorate System of the Minorities
Now a days it a issue that what system of the elections will be bitter for the communities. In 1979 Gen. Zia introduced the separate electorate system for the minorities and new constituencies were made for national and provincial assemblies. The system was legalized by amending the Articles 51 and 106 (Khan). In the elections of 1971 and 1977 the Pakistan people party captured all the non Muslims votes as it was a liberal party and Zia wanted to minimized the vote bank of PPP (Khan). Though it was a good system for them as they could freely elect their representatives but the constituencies were so vast it the objection was raised that it is very difficult for a person to contact his representative and the local problems could not be solved by the local (Muslims) members as they have not any interest because they are not their voters. In 2002 the system of separate electorate was abolished by Pervez Musharaf and introduced the proportionate system of election . in this system the seats reserved for the non Muslims are distributed among the political parties according to the votes they acquired.
The system is bitter than the previous one but some elements raised objections that in this system the communal members bound to the policies of the political parties and not working openly for the communities of their own.
Minorities Seats in the National and provincial assemblies
In the Constitution of 1973 the number of seats for minorities in the National Assembly is 10. In Baluchistan 3, in KPK 3 , Punjab 8, in Sindh 9, so the total number of provincial seats is 23.
Senate:- There were no representation in the Senate before 2009. In 2009 in senate 4 seats were raised through 18th amendment. Now the total number of seats in the Senate is 104. One seat allocated to all four provinces reserved for minorities .
Local Bodies:- In 2001, Musharraf introduced the new local bodied system in the country . in which the minorities were given representation
It is demanded that the number of seats in the assemblies of the minorities should be raised as it is less than their population ratio. They are right, because when in 2002 the numbers of seats were revised in all the assemblies of Pakistan but the reserved seats of the communities remain as before and there was no change in their seats. According to calculation the minorities are 4 -5% of the total population. If we consider it 4% then
Muslims ……….. 332 /96 = 3.4
Non Muslims…. 10/4 = 2.5
Here 3.4 and 2.5 are units so 2.5 is very less as compare to 3.4 lets now we consider to put 13 instead of 10 the non Muslims seats.
Muslims ……….. 332 /96 = 3.4
Non Muslims…………..13/4 = 3.25 or 3.3
Now it is clear that 3.4 and 3.3 are almost equal so if they have 13 seats in the national assembly so it will meet their demand rightly.
The separate electorate system have the problem that the members are beyond the approach of the lay man and secondly it expensive because of the vast constituencies. In the general elections they can not win the seats with 4% votes . it will be better to introduce the system of double votes for minorities . as they will elect there candidate in the separate system but they have the right to vote in the general seats so the MPAs and MNAs of general seats will bound to solve their problems as they will be their voters.