The US Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) has welcomed Pakistan’s decision of establishing a National Commission for Minorities.
Anurima Bhargava, one of USCIRF’s eight commissioners, said in a statement, “We are encouraged by the formation of the National Commission for Minorities as a governmental body promoting the rights of religious minorities within Pakistan; it’s an important step in Pakistan’s continuing journey towards the protection of religious freedom,”
Supreme Court of Pakistan had directed the government in 2014 to establish a commission “to monitor the practical realization of the rights and safeguards provided to the minorities under the Constitution and law.”
“USCIRF encourages the Pakistani government to empower the Commission with the proper authority to meet its intended purpose as defined by the Supreme Court,” Bhargava added.
Another USCIRF Commissioner, Johnnie Moore shared his opinion that his visit to Pakistan with Bhargava, that was supposed to happen in March, had to be postponed due to coronavirus pandemic.
Commissioner Moore said, “We welcomed the invitation to visit and are grateful that Pakistan has actively engaged with USCIRF on issues of religious freedom” “The establishment of the National Commission for Minorities is undoubtedly a step in the right direction, though more steps are certainly required.”
“The prime minister (Imran Khan), and his government, can move Pakistan forward if they so choose, and we will look forward to seeing it,” the statement added.
Punjab’s Information Minister Fayyaz-ul-Hassan Chohan has announced that lockdown will be relaxed for four days a week-Monday to Thursday. During these days, shops and markets will be allowed to reopen.