Pakistan is a galaxy of religions and land of diverse cultures therefore the ethnocentric approach of the political decision-makers cannot serve the purpose of national unity. The reserved quotas for minorities without any implementation mechanism are a futile effort to ensure equality of citizenship and opportunities.
Equitable quality education in the light of Sustainable Development Goal 4 specifically its indicator 4.7.1 is imperative to implement and incorporated in the education policies. The government was called upon by the civil society organizations including Association of Women for Awareness and Motivation, Holy Rosary Parish Madina Town, Faisalabad Union of Journalists, Pakistan Girl Guides Association, vigilance committee for social harmony and Punjab Educators Association, All Pakistan Private School Alliance etc. in a one-day conference titled ‘collective efforts for advancing diversities’ on the eve of national minority day.
The Bishop of Faisalabad Rt. Rev. Indiras Rehmat was the chief guest and the event was presided over by Dr. Rizwan Ullah Kokab. The speakers included Naseem Anthony, Dr. Najma Afzal, Hamid Yaseen, Amna Ehsan, Farzana Chaudhry, and other representatives of civil society organizations. Rt. Rev. Indrias Rehmat, Bishop of Faisalabad, said, “disparities of rights in policies and laws can never ensure the equality of status and treatment therefore the policymakers must ensure the equality of citizenship and opportunities with acknowledging distinct identities of diverse groups.”
Dr. Rizwan Ullah Kokab, head of department GC University said, “Pakistan is a land of diverse cultures and traditions thus the statutes and laws with specific religious preference will not ensure the national unity.” “Education is an important pillar if it is designed in an impartial manner can serve the purpose of social cohesion and harmony,” he added. Naseem Anthony, program director AWAM said, “equality of citizenships and opportunities is demanding concentrated efforts of decision-makers to introduce laws and policies with efficient implementation machinery to protect the minorities in a holistic manner.”
Rev. Fr. Kahid Rasheed Asi, Catholic Priest, said, “the minorities in Pakistan are still struggling for protecting their distinct identity and striving to find their due space the society.” “Un-failed efforts are needed to reverse the discrimination and converting the representation of minorities into participation,” he added.
Hamid Yaseen, Assistant General Secretary Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists, said, “education policy must incorporate the concept of human rights, social justice, peaceful coexistence and non-discrimination as the government is under obligation to implement the SDG 4.7.1.”
Dr. Najma Afazl, former parliamentarian, said, “Pakistan is under obligation to ensure protection of the rights of the minorities, on the other hand, failed to do so.” She further added, “the decision-makers need to take practical measures instead of lip service to demonstrate their respect for diversity.”
The rest of the speakers included Hamid Yaseen, Nadeem Javed, Mian Nadeem, Latif Gill, Farzana Chaudhry, Amna Ehsan, and Nazia Safdar, Muhammad Noor-ul-Amin further corroborated that the policymakers are avoiding to resolve the issue of diversity of religions and cultures owing to it minorities are facing a typical attitude and behavior of the general masses.