· In Pakistan, Bishops call for a Ministry for Minorities ·
Fostering freedom of thoughts, eradicating corruption and fighting religious discrimination via the establishment of a Ministry for Minorities are some of the hopes expressed by the National Commission for Justice and Peace (NCJP) of the Catholic Bishops Conference of Pakistan, in a statement addressed to the new government led by Imran Khan. Expressing appreciation for the successful democratic transition, the statement, which was signed, among others, by NCJP President Archbishop Joseph Arshad, Bishop of Islamabad-Rawalpindi, suggested that, in order to guarantee the greatest political representation, the new Ministry should be established both on a provincial and on a federal level.
“The first responsibility of the government is to protect minorities. Pakistan belongs to minorities as much as to the majority. We will collaborate with the newly elected government in every way, for progress and peace", the statement stressed. NCJP National Director Father Emmanuel Yousaf said the government “must strengthen democratic institutions, promote the rule of law, and pay particular attention to health, education and social welfare”, according to the vision of Muhammad Ali Jinnah, considered to be the founding father of Pakistan. The document, which was reported by AsiaNews and by Fides news Agency, mentioned growing concern among liberal activists and minority leaders. Many have expressed reservations regarding the increase in prices, the absence of minority representation in the new government and some advertisements aimed at Christian street sweepers. Anjum James Paul, director of the Pakistan Minorities Teachers’Association, complained that “Christians have been deprived of their basic human rights. Our heart is broken when we read that the only job for Christians is to sweep [the streets]”, he said.
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