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President, PM assure religious minorities of social protection, freedom to practice faith

ISLAMABAD, Jul 29 (APP):President Dr Arif Alvi on Monday said the concept of modern Islamic state was incomplete without principles of social equality and assured the religious minorities in the country of full freedom to practice their faith.

“Pakistan belongs to its all communities regardless of any religion which unitedly make a beautiful bouquet of inter-faith harmony,” the President said at an event titled ‘One land, one flag & one nation’ held in connection with Minority Day here at the Aiwan-e-Sadr.
As a gesture of solidarity, Prime Minister Imran Khan also joined the event attended by representatives of different communities including Christians, Hindus, Sikhs, Baha’i and Kalash.

Pakistan has declared Minority Day in connection with the Quaid-e-Azam’s address to legislative assembly on August 11, 1947 where he had stated that all citizens were free to go to their worship places without distinction of their religions or faiths.

President Dr Alvi said the country’s leadership was determined to make Pakistan a true reflection of the ideals of State of Medina, vision of the Quaid and the philosophy of national poet Allama Iqbal.

“You have a steadfast prime minister, and I tell you, he will not inch backward unless achieve his goal of a welfare state,” the President told the audience comprising bishops, pundits, pastors and other religious leaders.

He said all religious minorities were an important part of Pakistan and lauded their contribution for the country in diverse fields.

He quoted a saying of Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon Him) that ‘anyone becoming tyrant towards a non-Muslim, would be contested by me on the Judgment Day’.

The president mentioned several occasions where Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) greeted 40 Christian delegations at Masjid-e-Nabvi and allowed them camping within the vicinity of mosque.
Prime Minister Imran Khan said the State of Medina was a civilized model of governance that needed to be implemented in Pakistan.

He announced to set up chairs at the country’s leading universities for in-depth study of the subject.
He said the PhD degree research would be conducted on the world’s first welfare State of Medina, which embodied principles of rule of law, justice, peace and equality for all regardless of race, religion and gender.

Prime Minister Khan in his speech said a nation could not live without a vision and stressed that Pakistani nation needed to follow the vision of State of Medina where all religious minorities enjoyed equal rights.

“We will protect the worship places of all religions and will change the mindset of people in line with Islamic injunctions,” he assured the minority communities.

He mentioned that steps had been taken to facilitate the Sikh community through Kartarpur Corridor, which would be opened for the 550th birth anniversary of Baba Guru Nanak in coming November.
On forced religious conversion, he said the unjust practice needed to be stopped as it gravely violated Islamic values and the Constitution.

“Those who force others to adopt a particular religion is totally unaware of the teachings of Quran and Sunnah,” he said in reference to forced conversion of Hindu girls through marriages as reported in Sindh.
The prime minister termed accountability an important component of a welfare state and said the politicians convicted in corruption cases could not bring even a single documentary proof.

He said in 10 years, the looters of public exchequer inflicted financial loss of twenty four thousand billion rupees to the country and now were calling their accountability as political victimization.
Federal Minister for Religious Affairs and Inter-faith Harmony Pir Noorul Haq Qadri said for the last one year, the ministry had taken special steps to mark holy events of all faiths including Christmas, Holi, Dewali, Besakhi, and others.

He said the government of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf made appointment of Chairman Evacuee Trust Board on merit after proper advertisement and interview, regretting that earlier the kitty was misappropriated by the political appointees of previous government.

Representatives of different religious communities shared their views on the occasion and expressed commitment to continue contributing for the country’s solidarity and prosperity.
Bishop of Lahore Irfan Jamil said the Christian community was playing significant role in fields of education, medicine, social work and even in the armed forces.

He called for implementation of five percent reserved job quota for minorities in true letter in spirit, elimination of hate material from syllabus and also legislation related to Christian marriage and divorce.
Parliamentary Secretary for Human Rights in National Assembly Lal Chand Malhi representing the Hindu community expressed satisfaction that presence of both the President and the Prime Minister at the event for minorities showed their seriousness in making Pakistan a reflection of the Quaid’s vision.
Isphanyar Bhandara speaking on behalf of Parsi community said protection of minorities was linked with the country’s solidarity and urged the goverment to rename the major roads as earlier in the names of non-Muslims prominent personalities.

Dr Seema Fozdar representing the Baha’i community said Pakistan’s minorities presented a beautiful mix of religions that needed tolerance and harmony for a peaceful society.

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