EU Conference on Pakistan
Wilson Chowdhry with Human Rights Activist' Advocate of Supreme Court of Pakistan and President Supreme Court Bar Association - Asma Jahangir.
Wilson with Paul Herzog von Oldenburg (Grandson of Kaiser Wilhelm-former German Monarchy) a Christian Human Rights Campaigner.
Asma Jahangir a former United Nations Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion and Belief and Jennifer Jag Jivan author of Life on the Margins - a study on Minority Women in Pakistan - a book that reveals the discrimination that Hindu and Christian women suffer in Pakistan - were invited panel guests during a conference at European Parliament Thursday May 31st 2012.
The conference termed Freedom of Religion and Belief in Pakistan: The role of the European External Action Service, was attended by several MEP's and many humanitarian groups including Wilson Chowdhry of the British Pakistani Christian Association.
MEP De Jong Chaired the meeting and spoke of the reticence of key players in the Pakistani embassy to the Eu to accept a problem exists.
Asma Jahangir described a number of governmental and societal concerns affecting human rights in Pakistan. She detailed concerns regarding a lack of reporting mechanisms and reluctance of parochial police to respond to discrimination and persecution for fear of retribution and gross levels of bribery.
Mrs Jahangir said;
"We should have a zero tolerance to intolerance" she added; "secularism in the west is a red rag to extremists in Pakistan - more should be done to celebrate diversity" later stating; "tolerance should be promoted to oppose persecution"
Asma Jahangir illustrated how intolerance had lead to poor economy as extremists usurped control over people through religious fervour, in the process decimating the country through terrorist attacks and sieges - restoration is costing millions,
Mrs Jahangir provided a silver lining praising Pakistan's organised civil society who fervently opposed dictatorship, ensuring short rule for usurpers. She called for better pluralistic discourse between government and civil society and more responsible media
Jennifer Jivan provided an analysis of the situation for minorities living in Pakistan. Although it clearly offended the representative from the Embassy of Pakistan she described the disparity between the size of minority population in Pakistan between 3-5% of overall population and the number of blasphemy cases raised against them - over 51%.
Mrs Jivan said;
"Pakistani minority women face a double jeopardy discrimination for their faith and discrimination for their gender"
An objection from the Pakistan embassy was met with a reprimand from the Asma Jahangir who said that the government has to accept that labels of anti-Pakistani for those opposed to ongoing persecution, were unwarranted.
Wilson Chowdhry spoke against the demonization of minority groups in school lessons and textbooks. He also called for removal of Islamic Studies from the curriculum a introduction of a broader based religious studies lesson that could enrich Pakistani culture. Asma Jahangir supported these ideas.
Wilson Chowdhry said;
"When considering inequality and persecution in Pakistan we should consider factors other then the blasphemy law. Pakistan's constitution, Hudood ordinances, Qisas and Diyat laws have contributed to a diminished sense of society. Poor electoral turnout due to fear and other factors, typecasting of minorities in school lessons and lack of response from authorities have created an atmosphere of animosity and impunity towards discrimination and hatred. It is not simply illiteracy that has spawned minority hatred in Pakistan, moreover decades propaganda. Pakistan's current educational reform package will have little affect, unless laws the constitution and curriculum become fairer in tandem"
At the end of the meeting MEP De Jong concluded by saying:
"It will be fitting to hold regular meetings on Pakistan as much has been learnt today"