Monday, 9 May 2011

Minorities Minister & Ministry

PML-Q Minister Riaz Hussain Pirzada is now offered Health Ministry after last weeks appointment of Federal Minister For Minorities which he refused as it was unacceptable to the minorities who demanded a person from their own faith as Pirzada is a Muslim and lacked experience and ability to carry late Shahbaz Bhatti's torch forward.
However Mr. Pirzada's name is still posted on the Ministry of Minorities website

Prime Minister Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani on Sunday renamed the Ministry of Minorities Affairs as Ministry of Interfaith Harmony. We wonder how name changing resolve minorities issues.

Interestingly Pirzada had termed suicide bombers as "will of God" and even 
demanded the abolition of Federal Shariat Court and Council of Islamic Ideology (CII) saying that there was no need for the Shariat Court in the presence of Shariat Bench in the Supreme Court. 

Pirzada said last week “The truth is that I am not mentally prepared to handle the ministry. I believe that it should be handled by a representative of the minorities. If the minorities don’t want me to hold this post, I will tender my resignation

The appointment of Pirzada was not only questioned by Minorities but baffled many Muslims and other ministers of the cabinet at this decision. It seemed as if someone was handed down this position with the purpose of filling in an empty seat.
Will the government appoint a member of a minority as the Minister for Religious Affairs? It will never do any such thing. Then how can it appoint someone from the majority as the minister for minority affairs? questioned former MPA Michael Javaid.

Minority MNA, Nelson Azeem  said  “Our leaders should not be bound to the minority affairs ministry only. We should be given charge of other ministries as well,”

Dr. Paul Bhatti, brother of the late Shahbaz Bhatti is an advisor for minorities affairs.

Shahbaz Bhatti was the only Christian in the federal cabinet struggled for the rights of minorities and on March 2 2011 was assassinated in front of his home in Islamabad.

As federal minister, Bhatti took serious steps to ensure the safety, rights and empower religious minorities while in office, can a Muslim minister achieve these?:

•    In 2002, he banned the sale of properties belonging to minorities while law enforcement authorities took action against them
•    Supported the revisions of the Blasphemy Law by the end of 2010
•    Supported repeal for discriminatory laws that affected minority groups
•    Launched national campaign to promote interfaith and harmony through seminars,  awareness groups, and workshop.
•    Had planned to introduce legislation that would ban hate speech and hate literature
•    Proposed to the Ministry of Education to introduce comparative religion courses as a curriculum subject
•    A five per cent quota was given for all government jobs to minorities
•    Four reserved senate seats
•    Religious holidays and festivals are recognized by the government and respected.
•    Made August 11th Minority Day in Pakistan
•    Prayer room for non-Muslims in the prison system
•    A 24-hour crisis hotline to report acts of violence against minorities
•    A campaign to protect religious artifacts and sites that belong to minorities

Who will replace Shahbaz Bhatti ?

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