National Minorities Day By Dr Ramesh Kumar Vankwani Posted on August 11, 2017 129 Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share on Google+ Share on Reddit Share on Pinterest Share on Linkedin Share on Tumblr National Minorities Day By Dr Ramesh Kumar Vankwani Today, the National Minorities Day is being marked across the country with a pledge to safeguard fundamental rights of the minorities and acknowledge their role for national development as well. Exactly 70 years ago, the founding father Quaid-e-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah, on this historical day (11th August 1947) had addressed to the first constituent assembly and provided a concrete roadmap for the new Muslim-majority state. Defining the state policy, Quaid-e-Azam said in clear words that “You may belong to any religion or caste or creed — that has nothing to do with the business of the State.” He declared that being Pakistani citizen all are equal and one nation. His speech is considered as one of the most famous and best speeches in the world history to promote tolerance and national harmony. He also tried to convince the Non-Muslim residents for making Pakistan their homeland. Hundreds of Hindu families had postponed their plans of migration following the historic speech of Quaid-e-Azam and still today, Pakistan is considered as sacred homeland “Dharti Mata” in the eyes of patriot Pakistani Hindu citizens. The basic motive of creation of Pakistan on the basis of golden values of tolerance, equality and peace, was, no doubt, to form an independent state where Muslims in majority could be able to run the country affairs. Without going into the debate of secular state or Islamic system, I would like to state that Quaid-e-Azam had very positive approach about the active role of Non-Muslim minorities in the newly-formed Pakistan. The inclusion of Non-Muslims including Sir Zafarullah Khan and Jogendra Nath Mandal in his cabinet was a clear sign that Quaid-e-Azam and his companion of Pakistan Movement wanted to provide equal rights and opportunities to all the communities living in Muslim majority population and everyone should work hard to engrave Pakistan’s name as a great nation on the world map. Very few people know that first national anthem of Pakistan was composed by a renowned Hindu poet Jagan Nath Azad on the personal desire of nobody but Quaid-e-Azam himself. The national anthem was broadcasted on the Radio Pakistan on 14th August 1947 and used officially for the period of first one and half years but was replaced after the sad demise of Quaid-e-Azam in 1948. Today, this is very unfortunate that neither the complete speech of Quaid-e-Azam nor the national anthem composed by Jagan Nath Azad is available in the archive of Radio Pakistan. At the time of independence, the population of Non-Muslim minorities in Pakistan consists of nearly one-fourth (around 23%) of total population, which according to Government official record has now reduced to 3%. Contrary to this, various independents survey reports carried by Pakistan Hindu Council and other non-governmental organizations disclose that actually Non-Muslims form 5-6% of current population. Further, Election Commission, in its recent report, highlighted that Hindu community is having 50% of total Non-Muslim vote bank and thus dominating the religious minorities. There are very valuable contributions of minorities in all fields of life including education, health, politics, literature, judiciary, science and arts but unfortunately, they don’t get due credit. The dictator General Zia ul Haq had adopted the policies of religious intolerance and extremism for the sake of his rule. Even in the curriculum, Non-Muslim minorities are portrayed as anti-state villains. I think, such kind of elements are trying to transform Pakistan in a country where religious minorities have to live in the atmosphere of fear and panic. Attack on holy worship places, abduction of minor Hindu girls, forced conversion, forcibly marriage, kidnapping for ransom, and misuse of blasphemy laws are some of dirty tactics in this regard. I would like to express to all of those who are conducting such acts in the name of religion that we must not forget that the first Islamic Government was established by the Islamic Prophet (PBUH) where He signed peace treaties with Non-Muslim citizens. According to Charter of Madina, the Non-Muslims were ensured to have the same political, religious and cultural rights as Muslims. Today, the day of 11th August demands the government to implement workable concrete policies to safeguard the patriotic minorities communities and acknowledge their role for the betterment of society. I also have made appeal on various platforms that the word “minorities” itself represents the narrow-mindset and following the constitution of Pakistan, it is better to use “Non-Muslims” officially. There is another misconception among masses about our national flag. Normally, it is believed that green color in the Pakistani flag represents Muslims while white is for minorities. I think, this is very unfair to divide our national flag on the basis of discrimination. In fact, green color reflects prosperity, ambition and harmony while white color relates to peace for all citizens. In my views, announcing of national annual awards for minorities, active involvement in state affairs and providing opportunities to capable minority officials to head strategic important institutions could bring positive results on national and international level. The complete speech of Quaid-e-Azam on 11th August must be make part of school curriculum. Non-Muslims -on the pattern of Azad Kashmir Assembly -must have the right of dual vote to send their genuine representatives in Parliament. Similarly, a common citizen must show his commitment to promote national and interfaith harmony in his routine dealings.