Christians, Pakistan's largest religious minority, and other religious minorities observed another Minority Day as the persecution of minorities in Pakistan continues to get worse. Many Christians and Hindus in Lahore gathered together to mark the national holiday and call for the end of Pakistan's discrimination against religious minorities. Christians specifically spoke out against Pakistan's controversial blasphemy laws that are often abused to persecute religious minorities.
8/12/2013 Pakistan (Pakistan Daily Times) - The two major minorities living in the city of Lahore, Christians and Hindus celebrated the Minorities’ Day offering special prayers in churches and mandirs for the betterment of the country and held rallies, seminars and cake-cutting ceremonies on Sunday.
During their speeches on this occasion, the minority leaders urged the federal and provincial governments to make efforts to provide security and equal rights of citizenship to them, saying they are not only true Pakistanis but also “patriotic children of this soil where they have been living for hundreds of years”.
In their speeches, the minority leaders also demanded the government to work for removing all such articles in the constitution, especially Article 295-B and 295-C, which are creating a sense of bias towards the minorities.
The Christian community in the ceremony also disclosed that Zafarwala in district Narowal, the village of the first Christian converts in east Punjab, has been flooded. Community Development Initiative (CDI), an NGO working for the Christian community, announced a relief package for the 1,300 affected families of Zafarwala.
According to details, Christian community held special services in churches in connection with the Minorities’ Day in Pakistan and offered prayers for the development of the country and their community. Later, the Christian community organisations also held some ceremonies to highlight community issues.
All Pakistan Minorities Alliance-Founder Group held a special ceremony at Saint Paul Church located at Walton presided over by the organisation’s head and former member Punjab Assembly Pervez Rafique, while John Victor, Dr Martin, Chaudhary Rasheed Joiya, Waseem Yousuf Varyam, Javed Bhatti, Advocate Tariq Javed, Khalid Shahzad, Intekhab Alam and Adil Salman also spoke to the gathering.
Pervez Rafique urged the government to amend the law to end discrimination against minorities and to provide equal rights and security to them. He demanded the government to repeal all the “biased” articles in the constitution, especially articles 295-B and 295-C.
To celebrate the day, Hindu community representative organisation Hindu Sudhar Sabha (HSS) also organised a cake-cutting ceremony at Garhi Shahu and Bhajjans (religious songs) were sung.
HSS President Amernath Randhawa and other representatives, including Ameet Kumar and Ram, also addressed the devotees and emphasised on the government to show the writ of state in areas where minorities were being forced to convert to other religions and girls from minority groups were being kidnapped and later converted through forced marriages. He also urged the government to give better educational and economical environments to Hindus.
Another cake-cutting ceremony of Christian community was held at the residence of Pakistan People’s Party Minority Wing leader Napoleon Qayyum in which locals participated in large numbers. A special prayer for the betterment and the success of the country was also offered.
In the ceremony, Napoleon Qayyum said that Zaffarwala, the village of Chaudhry Datt, who was the first man to convert in East Punjab in 1973, has been flooded. The community also offered prayer for the residents of the flooded area.
CDI President Asif Aqeel informed on the occasion that they had collected the data of the flood victims of Narowal and would provide bags of 20 kg flour, 20 kg rice, two kg oil, two kg sugar, two kg tea and pulses to each family in the relief package and they would start distribution work from Tuesday in Zafarwala.