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School syllabus should have content on interfaith harmony: NCHR

School syllabus should have content on interfaith harmony: NCHR

ISLAMABAD: The National Commission for Human Rights (NCHR) in a report has stressed the need for incorporating content on interfaith and intrafaith harmony in the national school curriculum to promote tolerance and coexistence among different communities.

The report, “Understanding the agonies of ethnic Hazaras in Balochistan” was shared with Dawn by NCHR Chairman retired Justice Ali Nawaz Chowhan on Friday.

The report said existing laws against sectarianism, hate speech and violence against individuals and communities should be strictly implemented.

Rather than having a concrete plan for the prevention and eradication of religious terrorism, the government’s approach towards the issue has been like firefighting, it added.

“State should ensure measures for implementation of relevant provisions of the National Action Plan (NAP), including measures to stop religious extremism, protect minorities and prosecute elements spreading sectarian violence.”

Justice Chowhan said the report was prepared in almost two months by a team from the commission that visited Quetta to observe the problems of the Hazara community.

“When we reached Quetta, it was clearly observed that the Hazara community had been cornered from the social and economic life of the city. A number of times members of the community were attacked while travelling to their homes in Hazara Town,” he said.

“Once they used to have shops in Quetta city but because of threats they have closed all the shops. Now most of the members of the community are considering leaving the country. A large number of Hazaras have already migrated to Australia.” The total population of the community is estimated between 0.4 and 0.5 million.

“The government should give proper attention to issues of the community and ensure their protection. Hazaras are a part of our nation and they play an important role in the development of the country. Elements involved in targeted killings and attacks on the Hazaras should be arrested,” he said.

The report recommended that an overhaul of the criminal justice system was the need of the hour so that loopholes could be plugged and the perpetrators of violent attacks on the Hazaras were brought to justice.

The constitutional provisions regarding sectarian harmony should be enforced to promote peace and coexistence. The rights of the Hazara ethnic/linguistic minority may be ensured as envisaged in the Constitution and international conventions by adopting legislative and other measures.

The report suggested that the federal government should set up a commission on the killings of Hazaras. The Balochistan government should ensure the provision of education and healthcare to the community. Merit-based scholarships should be provided to Hazara students to continue their studies in various institutions of the country.

“It is recommended that the government should establish technical and vocational training centres for young Hazaras within their localities to develop their skills in a safe and healthy environment. Counseling centres for the victims’ families and the community in general should be established for trauma management and mitigation. Besides financial compensation, the government should also provide for the education expenses, family expenditures and treatment expenses of the victims and their families.”

The report said Hazaras injured or disabled for life in terrorist attacks should be provided jobs according to their capacity. Projects like Safe City as implemented in Islamabad should be launched in Quetta. Allegations of land grabbing by the land mafia as a possible motive behind the targeted killings and dislocation of the Hazaras need to be investigated.

Published in Dawn, February 3rd, 2018

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