May 22, 2012

The Chat Room: Episode 5

Topic: Spaces for interfaith dialogue are shrinking. Is it too late to turn things around?
When: Tuesday, May 22, 2012 @7:00pm
Moderator Maheen Irfan Ghani is joined by panellists Zohra Yusuf (Chairperson of the Human Rights Commission Pakistan), Mangla Sharma (Chairperson Pakistan Hindu Council) and Kashif Chaudhry (Newsline blogger).  

During the 2010 floods, many victims from Ahmadi, Hindu and Christian communities were discriminated against in aid distribution. In 2011 alone, 24 Shia lawyers were targeted by extremist organisations. And just yesterday, a 160-year-old Hindu temple was vandalised in Peshawar. In Pakistan, Ahmadis can theoretically be sentenced to death for publicly professing their faith and our school textbooks only further preach distrust towards minority communities.

How can a religion that preaches patience and tolerance be used as an argument for persecuting innocent Pakistani citizens? And how can a state that is meant to protect all its citizens continue to deny the minority communities their due rights?


Panelists’ Bios:
Zohra Yusuf:
Human rights activist and advertising guru, Zohra Yusuf, won the 2011 APNS award for her feature titled‘TV Channels or Electronic Pulpits.’
Zohra is the current Chairperson of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan and bureau member of South Asians for Human Rights (SAHR). She is also the creative director at Spectrum Y&R and has helped steer the creative development of the agency over the years. Zohra also continues to write extensively on the media and human rights issues for various publications.
Kashif N. Chaudhry:
Kashif N. Chaudhry is a graduate of King Edward Medical College in Lahore and is presently completing his medical residency at Mt Sinai Hospital in New Jersey. He is a physician by profession, currently completing his residency training in internal medicine at Mt. Sinai School of Medicine’s Englewood Hospital Program in New Jersey. Kashif is a regular contributor for various American newspapers and Pakistani publications and has written extensively on the struggles of religious minorities.

Mangla Sharma:
Mangla Sharma is the Chairperson of the Pakistan Hindu Council. She was previously  the city councillor of the Karachi District and has been a social worker for several years.

Here are some Newsline articles and blogposts that provide insight on the issues faced by the minority communities of Pakistan: