Minister of the State for Religious Affairs and Interfaith Harmony in Pakistan has said that the government is to undertake new measures to protect the country’s religious minorities. In recent months, Christians in particular have come under attack following a bombing of two churches before the Easter holiday. The Minister’s comments follow a report by the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom reported that Pakistan represents one of the worst situations for religious freedom. Will Pakistan’s government actually take real steps to protect its religious minorities.
5/11/2015 Pakistan (Pakistan Today) – Minister of the State for Religious Affairs and Interfaith Harmony Pir Aminul Hasnat has said that the government has taken effective measures for protecting the rights of minorities and their religious places in line with father of nation’s vision of a tolerant and democratic Pakistan.
Commenting on an annual report of the United States commission on International Religious Freedom that states that Pakistan represents one of the worst situations in the world for religious freedom for countries not currently designated by the US government as ‘countries of particular concern’, the minister said government is doing its best to fulfill its constitutional responsibilities in connection with safety and protection of the minorities living in Pakistan.
Aminul Hasnat said that to monitor measures for the minorities, the government has reconstituted National Commission for Minorities (NCM) wherein a proper representation has been given to the non-Muslims.
The minister said a three-member subcommittee of NCM comprising Asia Nasir, MNA, Asfand Yar Bhandara, MNA and Qari Roohullah Madni, Khateeb has already vetted a draft national policy on interfaith harmony.
He said following the recommendations of NCM, the Islamabad Capital Territory and all the provinces have been asked to constitute District Interfaith Harmony Committees and make them effective if already constituted.
The minister said a series of workshops and seminars are being started in Lahore by the end of this month, while rest of the events will take place after the holy month of Ramadan. He added that the move will inculcate the culture of tolerance and peaceful co-existence among various faiths.
He said Rs 10 million are being increased in the welfare fund of the minorities in the next financial year to strengthen the minority communities.
The welfare fund is spent on the economic uplift of the minorities, development schemes, financial assistance to needy individuals, scholarship schemes for their children, celebration of religious festivals and seminars for the promotion of interfaith harmony, he added.
“Government itself celebrates about 10 religious festivals for minorities at official level every year, in which followers of different beliefs are invited to share in the events,” the minister said.
The minister said according to a survey 78 per cent of Pakistanis are in favour of Christians to be allowed to build their worship places which shows that the Pakistani nation has the capacity to accept and respect followers of other religions.