- PM Shehbaz assures formation of national minority commission.
- “We value your services for Pakistan,” PM tells Christian community.
- PM highlights community’s contributions to education and defence.
ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif Thursday vowed to protect the rights of religious minorities including Christians, Sikhs, Hindus and Parsis affirming to ensure for them a secure environment in Pakistan.
The prime minister’s comments came while addressing a Christmas celebration ceremony at a church in Islamabad where he also cut a cake along with the bishops and leaders of minority communities.
Following demands of religious minorities, he assured to form a national minority commission after legislation in parliament.
“We want Pakistan to move forward according to the thinking and teachings of Quaid-i-Azam and Allama Muhammad Iqbal, who called for peace and brotherhood among all religions,” PM Shehbaz said recalling a speech by the nation’s founder on August 11, 1947, propagating equality toward religious minorities.
Under the Constitution of Pakistan, the premier said, people of all religions had equal constitutional and political rights. He added they are allowed to take part in all fields of life.
The prime minister said that a number of unfortunate incidents in the country weakened the protections given to minorities, who felt threatened and vulnerable.
“However, the Pakistani state succeeded in eradicating terrorism and extremism,” the premier said, referring to the Pakistan Army’s recent Bannu operation against terrorists, which took place after a hostage situation unfolded at the Counter-Terrorism Department (CTD) in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa city.
Premier Shehbaz, while felicitating the Christian community on the celebratory occassion, spoke about sharing happiness and lauded the community for its sacrifices and services for the nation since independence.
“We value from the core of our heart your services for Pakistan. Your services for the progress and development of Pakistan will be remembered in golden words. Justice Cornelius, Group Captain Cecil Chaudhry, Sister Ruth Pfau who was German and served the Pakistani nation for 55 years, were examples of service to Pakistan,” the prime minister said highlighting the community’s contributions in education and defence.
He also recollected Prophet Isa’s message of peace, brotherhood and love to humanity. He spoke of his mention and that of Hazrat Maryam in the holy Quran on numerous occasions.
“People from all religions across the world whether Christians, Hindus, Sikhs, Parsis or Muslims wanted to live in peace and harmony. Nobody should oppress and do injustice to others or violate rights of others and change the religion of each other by force. Islam nor any other religion allow this,” he stressed, reiterating the protection of human rights and equality propagated in Islam.
Minister for Religious Affairs Mufti Abdul Shakoor, who was also present on the occasion, said that Islam stresses treating all religious minorities with equality.