August 12, 2023

By Maryam Missal


Minorties’ Alliance Pakistan held a peace rally in Islamabad on the evening of August 11, National Minorities’ Day, but were charged with batons by the Islamabad Police for allegedly trying to enter the Blue Area.

MAP is an organization aimed to protect the rights of religious minorities in Pakistan. Their goals include religious freedom, equality, democracy, social cohesion and social harmony, tolerance, and freedom of expression.

August 11 was declared as National Minorties’ Day by the government in 2009, the purpose of which was to highlight the message of equal rights given to the religious minorities in Jinnah’s speech held on the same date in 1947, a few days before Partition. However the speech is often sidelined in school text books and other places.

Speaking to, Vice Chairman of MAP, Shamoon Alfred, said that they have been holding peaceful rallies in Islamabad since 1994 on August 11, even before it was officially declared National Minorities Day.

He said that the year before in 2022 on the day of the rally when MAP’s leadership met the Commissioner of Islamabad for formal permission to hold the rally, he had allowed them the route from Islamabad Press Club to D Chowk.

“Permission was given verbally and the Commissioner had also promised our leadership that he would himself attend the rally,”

said Alfred.

However, on the day of the rally, when the march began, from Islamabad Press Club to D Chowk, the Islamabad Police intercepted and carried out a baton charge, ultimately detaining three workers of MAP as well.

Islamabad Police has not responded to these allegations so far.


MAP’s Demands

MAP has demanded increased minority representation in the national and provincial assemblies, as well as amending Constitution Articles 41 and 91 to allow religious minorties to also have the opportunity to become president and prime minister of the country.

Chairman Akmal Bhatti emphasized that the misuse of religious laws must immediately be stopped and justice must be ensured. He criticized exploiting religion for politics.

“Members of religious minorities have played a vital role in the Pakistan movement, its development, defence and progress. Our people sacrificed their lives for the motherland; we are proud to be citizens of Pakistan, but now, unfortunately, the vision of Mr Jinnah has been forgotten,” said Bhatti.

The speakers in the rally criticized PDM and PTI for neglecting important issues such as forced conversions. They noted how religious campaigns victimized opponents using blasphemy laws. They expressed concern over state institutions aiding forced conversions.

Alfred added the services of the minorities must be commended, and that the Blasphemy law must stop being misused against religious minorities, and that the safety of their girls must be ensured.

“We are also Pakistanis,” he said. “We have not travelled from any other land. Our ancestors lived and died here. We should also be treated equally like the rest of the citizens here,” said Alfred.


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