The Foreign Affairs ministry was right to lodge a complaint with the US for placing Pakistan on a blacklist of countries that it contends violate religious freedoms — even though the move will not thus far lead to sanctions.For as this newspaper has previously noted: Washington hardly enjoys a clean chit on this front. After all, it is home to rising anti-Semitism and Islamophobia. This is not to mention the blatant racism that sees black men and women on the receiving end of police brutality. That being said, talking tough to the Americans about how this country’s minorities enjoy full religious freedom does not make it so. Meaning that such bravado can only work if, here at home, an honest review is sought on the plight of non-Muslim and Muslim minority sects. One that puts the latter in the driving seat.After all, the Ahmadis do not consider it religious freedom when they have to choose between claiming their faith and accessing due rights as citizens of this country. Such as the question of separate electoral roles in which denunciation of religious belief is linked to voting rights. The Christians feel similarly marginalised given that they are still not permitted to directly elect parliamentary representatives. But instead are presented with a handpicked list of those contesting reserved seats by respective political parties. What is therefore required is the setting up of a parliamentary commission to investigate the situation of Pakistan’s minorities. And while this should rightly fall under the purview of the Religious Affairs ministry — it is recommended that the latter work under the stewardship of the Human Rights ministry. Not least because Shireen Mazari has proved a vociferous supporter of the marginalised. As was evidenced this week when she took to the floor of the National Assembly to lambast recent moves aimed at curbing the free movement of leaders of the Pashtun Tahafuz Movement (PTM). On the grounds that they are citizens of this country and therefore must enjoy all rights associated with this. Thus it is expected that she would be the right woman for the job when it comes to championing minority rights in the face of a less than amenable state machinery.For the question of religious freedom must go beyond being permitted to pray as one sees fit. To include the exercising of full citizenship rights. * Published in Daily Times, December 14th 2018.