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Monday, 18 October 2010

New Human Rights Department initiated in Pakistan

Wilson questions the Minister for Human Rights (enjoying cup of tea) on the need for displaying the holders faith in Pakistani Passports.

Wilson and the new Minister for Human Rights discuss the potential for abuse of the existing Blaphemy Law of Pakistan.

After the meeting the two of us exchanged details and I honestly feel this is a step in the right direction.

The Federal Minister for Human Rights in Pakistan Syed Mumtaz Alam Gillani answered questions on his recent deployment within the newly created "Ministry of Human Rights".  Although initially excepted to parley at the event, when my turn to pose questions to this new figurehead within Pakistani Politics arrived, his daughter questioned the need for more questions, in what had been a rather difficult and tiresome venture. 

This caused me great consternation and was rather discombobulating, especially when you consider only 2 questions had been relayed to Minister Gillani.  Feeling rather perturbed, I demanded an opportunity to sound my question as I had waited patiently, for in excess of 10 minutes whilst a response to the previous question was met with the usual meandering political chicanery. 

The attempt to subvert my question could have been political manoeuvrings or just honest fatigue, however it left me feeling rather slighted.

I should have known better, as when I did get a chance to refer to the continuing abuse of the Blasphemy Law and it's possible extension to incorporate protection to all faiths - I received no response of worthy note. 

I talked of ongoing inequality, the prejudicial demarcation of ones faith in Pakistani Passports and the recent statements by Bishops in Pakistan that Christians and other minorities were being ignored when approaching Muslim agencies for aid.  Sounds of derision filled the air in a hall with few Christians present. However, I still believe that to have a Ministry of Human Rights is a small step forward for a country known for it's breaches of the historic conventions first stated by the UN in 1948.

Minister Gillani and I had a hug at the end of the meeting and this does not mean much to many.  But I have come across less charismatic and warm characters during my work with the BPCA.  Moreover, as much as no solid answers came of my questions, you cannot help but feel, that something is changing in Pakistan.  The Blasphemy Law is to be reformed and a consultation process has started and now we have a Minister for Human Rights. 

Small steps I know, but is that not where progress begins...

The meeting was organised by the The Christian Muslim Forum, the International Imam Hussain Council and Al-Khoei Foundation and was held on the 14th October 2010. 

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