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Event Title: Senator Walid Iqbal, Chairman Senate Standing Committee on Human Rights Presiding over a Meeting of The Committee at Parliament House Islamabad

Event Date: 2023-09-12

On Tuesday, The Senate Standing Committee on Human Rights adopted the recommendation to constitute a National Coordination Committee within the Ministry of Human Rights which would include representatives of all Provinces, Police Departments and draft SOP’s for effective control on issues that cause suffering to the minorities. The Senate Human Rights Committee on Tuesday while condemning the recent incident of vandalism of churches /homes in Jaranwala deliberated upon the steps taken for the rehabilitation of the destruction of buildings and people during the devastating incident. The Secretary Human Rights argued that since the enactment of the 18th amendment the implementation on safeguards and protection of the minorities have devolved to the provinces although the Human Rights Ministry has a very crucial role to play in the matter and should have efficient collaboration between relevant stake holders, including the police department religious leaders and minority representatives for formulating SOPs by IGPs. The committee adopted the recommendation on the constitution of the National Co-ordination Committee emphasising on importance of impartiality, sensitivity and swift action to prevent escalation.

Senator Irfanul Haq Siddiqui contended that the recommendations presented by the Ministry is largely to the extend of law enforcing agencies however it is more an issue of dealing with primitive measures and mindset of the people. Public should be sensitised on tolerance and democratic norms he added.

The Committee while considering the matter observed that such incidents invariably arise due to personal enmity and result in destruction at large and noted that the same appeared to be the case in the matter at hand. Senator Seemee Ezdi while observing the findings of the NCHR said no concrete  solution of the matter can be seen but only the rapid eradication of the minority community and stressed on placing curbs and checks on abuse of the blasphemy law.

Khalil George, the caretaker Federal Minister for Human Rights, who joined the meeting a bit belatedly after the Committee expressed its concern about his absence, particularly since this was its first meeting after he took up office, said that he had personally checked the on ground situation several times and still the affectees had not been fully accommodated. He said that there is still a great lack of communication between the local community resulting in non provision of essential items such as a food. He said that  the matter will remain on priority till the community is fully equipped and aided. The Committee also inquired from the Minister whether he was satisfied with the state of enforcement of human rights in the country as guaranteed by the Constitution, and he answered that while there was room for improvement, all us should play our respective parts towards that end.

The Committee repeatedly expressed concern over abuse of blasphemy laws to settle personal scores and observed that that incidents like Jaranwala are a great shame for the nation. The committee chair sought details of persons detained under blasphemy law in the next meeting, and also asked NHCR for a subsequent briefing on bail as a matter of right for innumerable women who were presently under trial and being kept in jail.

The committee meeting was abruptly called off as per parliamentary tradition on account of the news of sudden death of Senator Rana Maqbool Ahmed.

The committee expressed its deep sorrow on the sudden death of Senator Rana Maqbool Ahmed and offered fateha. The committee unanimously passed a  condolence resolution in honour of deceased Senator.

The meeting was attended by Senator Prof. Mehr Taj Roghani, Senator Dr. Mohammad Humayun Mohmand, Senator Seemee Ezdi, Senator Mushahid Hussain Sayed, Senator Abida Muhammad Azeem, Senator Muhammad Tahir Bizinjo, Senator Irfan ul Haq Siddiqui, Senator Falak Naz, Senator Quratul Ain Marri, Caretaker Federal Minister for Human Rights Khalil George and other senior officers of ministry and relevant departments were also in attendance.