August 12, 2023

By  Shoukat Korai 


A large rally was organized in Karachi for National Minorities’ Day on Friday August 11 to raise awareness about challenges faced by religious minorities and for the advocacy of their rights.

The march commenced at Frere Hall and later continued along the streets of the city, led by renowned artist Sheema Kermani.
Participants including politicians, lawyers, human rights activists, and representatives from various minority communities, gathered to advocate for the rights of minorities and urge the government to ensure their fair treatment.

Addressing the participants, performing artist Sheema Kermani stated that despite 75 years of progress, religious minorities in Pakistan continue to seek protection for themselves and their children. She emphasized the need for equal rights for all and unity among citizens.

The march featured a vibrant display of unity, as participants donned traditional attire such as saaris and colourful turbans. Amid the sea of diversity, the air resounded with unified slogans condemning the biased system and demanding respect for the rights of minorities.

A poignant portrayal of the challenges faced by minority communities in Pakistan unfolded on the march stage, presented by the Tehrik-e-Niswan cultural action group.

The dramatic performance shed light on the trials and tribulations experienced by minority individuals, highlighting the urgent need for equitable treatment and social justice.

Key figures and advocates lent their voices to the cause.

Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto Jr., the son of the late politican Mir Murtaza Bhutto, emphasized the invaluable contributions of religious minorities in various sectors of Pakistani society.

Bhutto Jr. said,

“We are all one people, and I refuse to let us be divided.”

He underscored the country’s rich tapestry of religions and ethnicities, stressing the vital role played by minority communities in Pakistan’s progress.


Among the participants was the family of Professor Notan Lal, who was arrested on charges of blasphemy. His nephew and activist Mahesh Kumar emphasized that while they don’t demand the abolition of blasphemy laws, they urge their proper use to prevent misuse.

Photographs of Ranko Kumar, who fell victim to forced religious conversion in Mirpur Mathelo, were also carried during the march, demanding his safe return. Dr Pervez Hoodbhoy, a member of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, questioned the whereabouts of Ranko Kumar, who has been missing for more than a decade.

Human rights activist Seema Maheshwari emphasized that while the day was being observed, it was crucial to eliminate biased attitudes from society and provide protection to their daughters.


The march resonated with calls for gender equality within minority communities. Zoha Alvi, a dedicated researcher and one of the event’s organizers, decried the discrimination faced by minority women based on their religion and gender.

Alvi advocated for increased representation of minority women in local, provincial, and national assemblies to empower them to advocate for their needs effectively.


Representatives of the Sikh community, including Ramesh Singh, the Patron-In-Chief of the Pakistan Sikh Council, voiced concerns about the absence of Sikh and Parsi representation in elected bodies. The lack of representation hindered the resolution of pressing issues faced by these communities.

The participants of the march collectively called for measures to eliminate forced religious conversions, forced marriages, and misuse of blasphemy laws, as well as to ensure equal rights for all citizens without religious discrimination. Comprehensive security arrangements were made during the march, including at Frere Hall.


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