25th August 2021
A sales manager by profession, Augustine Jacob’s activism spans two decades of his life. He is a frequent attendee and participant of various rights’ forums where he has raised concerns of the minority communities, in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP).
Otherwise he acts as a consultant and expert on minority concerns with KP-based NGOs, and has spoken on a range of topics including the rights of women, children and non-Muslim Pakistanis.
It is no wonder that his intensive and dedicated work has led to him being the only member of minority from KP who has been conferred with the S.P Singha award.
Jacob’s area of interest is youth development.
“The coming era belongs to our youth,” he says, explaining how, as a motivational speaker and lecturer, he encourages the youth of KP to correct the nation’s past mistakes and to build a peaceful society.
“Pakistan does not make mistakes. There are some people out there whose words and deeds are tarnishing our country’s name,” he clarified, laying the onus of responsibility on Pakistan’s politicians and lawmakers whom he understands have been unable to implement and follow the very laws they make.
“Our judiciary is forced to intervene with strict actions such as suo motu, because it is apparent that there is no point in creating new laws when they are not going to be implemented in the first place.”
Laws pertaining to women and children are most ignored as he puts it, feeling that the already vulnerable position of women in society contributes to a lack of will in legislating for their betterment. Women in particular, he said, need support.
“They need laws. And not just any laws, but practical, implementable laws.”
While the lack of laws or failure to implement existing laws are among the biggest hurdles rights activism faces in Pakistan, Jacob was of the view that unwillingness on the part of actors was also a serious concern.
“Some people want to work and others do not. And those who do not want to work often create blockades against good things,” he said. “They do not want solutions to problems that can very easily be solved.”
Jacob says that his work comprises multiple religious minority groups in addition to his own, such as the Hindu, Sikh and Bahai communities. Together, they have managed to form a base in Peshawar where they are able to freely and openly discuss their concerns on a shared and inclusive platform.
“We have many women members that discuss their particular issues. We are often alerted to troubling developments in far flung areas that we travel to,” he added. However, this was something that they could not do alone. “As a Christian, I am thankful to my Muslim brothers and sisters, some of whom are MPAs, MNAs and members of the journalism community, who take action whenever I alert them to, say, a kidnapping or if the police is refusing to cooperate in a case.”
Jacob feels that networking is key to successful and impactful activism within a particular region and in Pakistan as a whole.
“I am an optimist. There are many among non-Muslims and Muslims in Pakistan who are of a soft and sensitive mind and are more than willing to help solve the problems faced by minorities. However there is still a need for organizations and allies who can network,” he insisted. “Through those networks, we should be able to raise our concerns on platforms where we can reach others capable of resolving our issues. But so far we have been unsuccessful in reaching out to these potential allies.