“Absolute freedom for religious minorities; Hindus quite prosperous”

Senior Pakistani advocate and the former President of the Supreme Court Bar Association of Pakistan, Akram Sheikh, has regretted that there were no concerted efforts in his country to constitute a panel on the lines of the Sachar Committee in India, which he said had done a commendable job.

Speaking during a session on ‘Rights of Religious and other Minorities' at the 17the Commonwealth Law Conference and talking to journalists later here on Tuesday, he said the Pakistan Supreme Court had demanded the setting up of such a panel so that facts would come out. He said there was absolute freedom for religious minorities in Pakistan.

He said Christians were the largest religious minority in Pakistan and Hindus, who constituted three-and-half per cent of the country's population, were quite prosperous.

In none of the rioting cases did inter-communal disturbances take place in Pakistan and the state never took sides. He said there were allegations in an article written by an Indian in the Harvard Human Rights Journal that the State governments in Maharashtra and Gujarat were behind (such) killings.

He said that most of the rioting cases in Pakistan were between different groups among Muslims like Sunnis and Shias.

Emphasising the importance of respecting the rights of the minorities all over the world, he said implementing the Sachar Committee recommendations would create greater harmony in India and solve the problems of minorities.

Yusuf Ali SAN, advocate from Nigeria, who was a former president of the bar association, said that each country would have to design a method of protecting minorities and must ensure promotion of tolerance of different faiths.

Justice Raus, who is a judge of the Federal Court of Malaysia, said the right to religion was one of the fundamental rights in Malaysia and the Constitution did not allow discrimination on ground of religion.

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