Speakers Call for Rights of Low-Caste Minority Communities in Pakistan

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Human rights and minority rights activists, alongside civil society representatives, have called upon the government to ensure fair representation for scheduled caste Hindus in the national assemblies.

They highlight a critical flaw in the current electoral system where only upper-caste Hindus can secure seats through reserved positions.

They were speaking at the press briefing and launch ceremony of the “Country Report on Status of Communities Discriminated on Work and Descent in Pakistan,” jointly organized by Pakistan Dalit Solidarity Network (PSDN) and The Knowledge Forum (TKF) at Karachi Press Club on Friday.

The speakers included Ms. Anis Haroon, a Member of the National Commission for Human Rights (NCHR) for Sindh, Dr. Sono Khangharani of Pakistan Dalit Solidarity Network, Pirbhu Lal Satyani, a Member of the National Commission for the Rights of Child, and members of PSDN Ms. Bhagwani Rathore and Ms. Pushpa Kumari.

Ms. Anis Haroon emphasized the report’s importance, stating that discrimination based on religion is a crime. She highlighted the NCHR’s efforts to ensure that minority communities are not exclusively earmarked for sanitary worker positions in government advertisements.

Dr. Sono Khangharani drew attention to the historical context, noting that while a six percent job quota was initially reserved for scheduled caste communities post-independence, it was later broadened to encompass all minority communities in 1995.

He urged political parties to allocate scheduled caste-reserved seats separately from those designated for the broader minority community.

The main contributor of the report Pirbhu Lal Satyani underscored the discrimination faced by scheduled caste Hindus and janitor workers in the Christian community, emphasizing the lack of facilities in their settlements.

He framed the report as a ‘call to action’ for the realization of their due rights as per Pakistani laws and the Constitution.

The co-contributor Ms. Bhagwani Rathor highlighted the underrepresentation of scheduled castes even in the national census, while Mr. Zulfiqar Shah stressed the deprivation of fundamental rights for a significant number of scheduled castes who work as agriculture laborers.

The “Country Report on Status of Communities Discriminated on Work and Descent in Pakistan” sheds light on the challenges faced by marginalized communities such as Dalits, lower-caste Hindus, and Christian minorities. It advocates for transformative change and addresses the systematic denial of rights faced by these groups.

The report serves as a call to action for policymakers, civil society organizations, and individuals to advocate for meaningful change, envisioning a Pakistan where discrimination based on work and descent is eradicated.

The report stands as a powerful tool to champion the rights and dignity of all citizens, striving to build a more just and inclusive society in Pakistan. It calls for collective action to address injustices, envisioning a future where every citizen enjoys equal opportunities and diversity is celebrated as a strength rather than a source of division.

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