Participants standing to honor National anthme during a seminar "The National Minorities Day" The Fortress

APMA seminar urges Interfaith harmony and more rights for Minorities

 |Arif Quresh| Aug 14, 2016

Islamabad: All Pakistan Minorities Alliance (APMA) organized a seminar to observe “The National Minorities Day” at a local Hotel in Islamabad on Thursday. A large number of minorities belonged to Christian, Hindu, Sikhs and others were among the participants. Scores of diplomats including German Ambassador Ina Lapel, Australian High Commissioner to Pakistan, Ms Margaret Adamson, Ambassador of Poland Piotr Opalinski, Ambassador of Holland Madam Jeannette Seppen, Bishop of Pakistan Alexander John Malik, PPP MNA Shazia Marri and Badshahi Mosque Lahore’s khateeb Maulana Abdul Khabir Azad, Rev Fr Pervaiz Emmanuel, Nawaz Kharal, Prof Faisal Abdul Gafoor, Kanwar Muhammad Dilshad and Rev Fr James Chanan were present on the occasion.

Addressing on the seminar, former federal minister for National Harmony and All Pakistan Minorities Alliance Chairman Dr Paul Bhatti stressed the need to promote Interfaith harmony among all faiths and demanded the Government to increase the number of reserved seats in National Assembly for religious minorities from the present 10 to 18 so that representatives of minorities can play an effective role in legislation.

All the clauses of the Constitution of Pakistan, which do not allow religious minorities their right to enjoy equal citizenship throughout all levels of society, must be removed especially regarding the highest position of the state that currently cannot be held by a non-Muslim, he said. While talking about ensuring equal and elected representation of religious minorities in country’s electoral system, Dr Paul proposed a dual vote system for religious minorities in the country.

Khateeb Badshahi Masjid Allama Abdul Khabir Azad said Minorities Day reminds us to reaffirm our solidarity for the betterment of humanity, prosperity and development of the country. He said Interfaith harmony in Pakistan among all religions is the need of hour and that is the only way isolate the terrorists across the globe. He said terrorists have no religion and they wanted to defame Islam and create instability in the societies adding that it is the collective responsibility to fight against terrorism. “We strongly condemn all the activities of terrorism across the globe and stressed that UN should play it vital role to eliminate this menace.” Azad added.

Bishop Alexander John Malik paid profound tributes to Shehbaz Bhatti the assassinated chairman of the APMA to whose credit it goes that August 11 was celebrated for the first time as Minorities Day. Referring to the countless sacrifices and services of the Christian community in various fields, Father Malik said Pakistan doesn’t belong to one religion, caste or color.

Raheel Nawaz, senior advocate of Supreme Court and General Secretary of APMA said that the democratic government stands committed to ensure equal rights for all minority communities as enshrined in the Constitution of Pakistan and UN Declaration of Human Rights. It is our moral, religious and social obligation to strengthen the bond of brotherhood and promote the culture of tolerance in our country, he reiterated.

While addressing on the occasion, PPP MNA Shazia Mari said that PPP will never step back from its tradition of sacrifice and severe reactions will erupt if any effort will be made to target our minorities. The sacrifices made by Salman Taseer and Shahbaz Bhatti will never be forgotten, he added. While praising former minister late Shahbaz Bhatti, PPP MNA said that he lived and sacrificed his life for a cause and commitment to marginalized segments of Pakistani society.

In their separate message on the occasion, President Mamnoon Hussain and Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif have renewed the resolve to provide equal rights to people of all religions without any discrimination in the light of teachings of our founding father Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah.

The President stressed to intensify efforts for religious harmony so that democratic values are promoted in our homeland. The Prime Minister said it is time to remember the great sacrifices rendered by minorities living in Pakistan and to be sensitized to the problems and issues they face. Minorities Day reminds all of us to reaffirm our solidarity for the betterment of humanity and a prosperous Pakistan.

It is reminded that minorities in Pakistan observe “The National Minorities’ Day” on August 11 in Pakistan to reiterate determination to secure fundamental rights of minorities of Pakistan. In 2009, 11th August Pakistan People Party Government led by Asif Ali Zardari declared the 11th August as National Minorities Day in Pakistan.

The Writer is Editor Daily Online News Paper “The Fortress” He can be reached at arifqoreshi@gmail.com

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