KARACHI - The Vice Chancellor, University of Karachi, Professor Dr Khalid Mahmood Iraqi said that the situation of minorities is much better in the Islamic Republic of Pakistan which was founded as a secular state in 1947 as compared to other subcontinent countries.

He was addressing to a participants of a day-long international conference held on Wednesday at a local hotel.

The KU Department of Sociology in collaboration with South Asia Research Institute for Minorities and Office of Research Innovation and Commercialization KU organised conference on ‘role of minorities in conflict resolution and peace in South Asia’.

Scholars from United States, Malaysia, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Nepal shed lights on the issue besides presenting their research papers.

Professor Dr Khalid Iraqi told the audience that if we reflect back to the vision of the Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah, the ideation of the establishment of the secular state will become clearer.

He mentioned that to make Pakistan happy and prosperous, we should concentrate on the well-being of its people, especially the poor masses. As citizens of Pakistan, we have equal rights, privileges, and obligations, irrespective of color, creed, cast and religion.

“You are free to go to your temples, to mosques or to any other place of worship in Pakistan. We should always be guided by the principles of justice and the fair play without any partiality or favoritism”.

Moreover, the KU VC Professor Dr Khalid Iraqi said that minorities are guaranteed all their fundamental rights according to Islam as well. Hindus are safe is Pakistan and hardly face any religious prejudice from Muslims. The nature of violence against Muslims prevails in India is very much different from what is being felt in the West.

He also said that present government of the Prime Minister of Imran Khan has taken a very positive step towards giving representation to the marginalized and vilified community of transgender. The Human Rights Minister – Shireen Mazari has set a precedent at a governmental level by appointing the first transgender – Ayesha Moghul to work in the Ministry of Human Rights as a resource person.

The President, Ambedkar Samaj Party, India, Bhai Tej Singh, said that during the last 72 years one could witness and realised the agony of Dalit people, who are being harassed, oppressed, suppressed and victimized in every walks on a daily basis.

“Our people are being kicked and killed as a daily routine. According to the National Crime Bureau Record of India, the number of registered cases of atrocities against dalits has gone up to 1, 67, 000 during 2016.”

He claimed that minorities including Muslims, Christians, Buddhists and even Sikhs have virtually no meaning of freedom in India. The Head of Department of Sociology, Nagpur, India, Dr Saroj Aglave mentioned that the concept of social security is very important, which related with human rights of the minority.

Dr Saroj elaborated that there are provisions for social security in the Indian Constitution. The Indian government had established the Ministry of Minority Affairs in 2006 after fifty years of independence.

She said that the then government of India launched Prime Minister’s 15 Point Program for welfare of Minorities with the objectives to enhancing opportunities for education, to ensuring an equitable share for minorities in economic activities and employment, to improving the conditions of living of minorities and to prevention and control of communal disharmony and violence.

According to her, though there are some important program for the development of minority, these entire program are on paper only. There still is a discriminative attitude and superiority complex among majority of the people in India.

“There is no properly implementation of social security program for minority. The actual fact is that minorities are still mistreated and humiliated. Fanatical forces are creating unrest among the minority, particularly Muslim. India also has had very high levels of religion-related social hostilities since in the past decade. Minorities are under the pressure of the majority. They are living in the shadow of a terrorist atmosphere. Hindu vigilante groups are against Muslim and Dalit. In such situation, social security program couldn’t achieve their goals.”

Adjunct Professor, Dr Amrik Singh pointed out that problem of South Asian countries is their incapacity to comprehend their colonial past and build a political system that provides opportunities to all its citizens to realize their human potential. The British India based their control on playing up religious, cultural, ethnic, and caste dissensions to deprive minorities of their pluralistic nationalism.

The pace of dividing, criminalising, patronizing, and dehumanising became swift after the British gained control on Punjab in 1849. He said that we have to see how Indian democracy functions amidst pogroms, genocide, lynching, rape and the loot. He also said that Kartarpur Corridor could be the sign of hope for regional peace.

Dr Mariyam Shahuneeza Naseer of Islamic University of Maldives expressed that the minority rights approach could be useful in conflict resolution and peace-building. She said that minority rights are individual and collective rights through which people belonging to national minority groups are entitled to enjoy their own culture, to use their own language, to profess and practice their own religion, to have the right to freedom of expression and assembly, to have equal opportunities to education and employment, and to enjoy full participation in public life.

Cynthia Stephen said that over the past century, there has been widespread conflict in several parts of the world, starting with the world wars. An outcome of the world wars was that nations came together on a common platform to address the issues of disagreement which escalated into conflict, first the League of Nations and later the relatively more effective United Nations.

She mentioned that there have been fewer conflicts at a global scale in the last six or seven decades, though there have been ongoing conflicts in several hotspots. However, she said, these localized conflicts have often happened in areas with a large number of ethnic or religious minorities. This factor has contributed to a large number of human rights abuses against the vulnerable minorities.

Professor Dr Pradeep Aglave of India said that caste-based discrimination is one of the most serious human rights issues in the world today, which adversely is affecting more than 260 million people globally.

“It is a very serious problem in South Asia , particularly in India and a form of social discrimination and caste is the very important factor in this type of discrimination.” The caste-based discrimination practices are the major problem in India.

He observed that caste discrimination is a highly politicized and sensitive issue in India. Despite Constitutional safeguards and special legislation for the protection of 201 million scheduled castes, violations of their fundamental human rights continue on a massive scale.

Dr Pradeep Aglave mentioned that key issues include access to justice and rising violence against Dalits, multiple discrimination against Dalit women, slavery and child labor, discrimination in education, untouchability and access to basic services including humanitarian aid, social and economic rights and shrinking space for Dalit human rights defenders.

He informed the audience that caste system is against the humanity. It violates the human rights of the lower caste people. Although castes are social we find social, religious, cultural, and economic discrimination on the basis of castes, everywhere in India. The caste plays the inhuman, undemocratic, and against the development role in Indian society. India is backward country due to caste system only.