For the first time in the country’s history, Pakistan has announced that it will publish the image of a Pakistani Christian leader on a postage stamp. Dewan Bahadur S.P. Singha was the speaker of the united Punjab and ultimately cast the deciding vote to include the Punjab province in Pakistan and not India. Singha and other Christians at that time believed that they would be treated better in the Muslim majority Pakistan because Muslims in India had faced discrimination at the hands of the Hindu majority. Although this dream did not come true and Pakistani Christians are among the most persecuted in the world, this announcement has been hailed by many Christian leaders as a step in the direction of being more inclusive of the country’s Christian community.
4/28/2016 Pakistan (Gospel Herald) – In a move that is being called a “great honor” for Christians living in the Middle East, Pakistan’s government has announced that for the first time in the nation’s history, the image of a Pakistani Christian leader will be published on a postage stamp.
According to a press release from the Center for Legal Aid, Assistance and Settlement (CLAAS), Pakistan recently issued a commemorative postage stamp of Rs10 denomination “Recognizing the services for Pakistan of Dewan Bahadur S.P. Singha.”
The release notes that Dewan Bahadur S.P. Singha is an important personality of Pakistan’s history, serving as the speaker of the united Punjab. He played a vital role in Pakistan’s movement, using his decisive “casting vote” in the Assembly of United Punjab in favor of Pakistan and supported the Quaid-e-Azam’s vision of a separate independent country, Pakistan.
UCA News reveals that Singha operated under the assumption that Muslims, having been deprived of basic rights by the Hindu majority, would realize that deprivation gives birth to revolt and treat minorities better.
However, his optimistic expectations about the Christian minority receiving better treatment at the hands of the Muslim majority were dashed when the Muslim League “mullahs” (Islamic teachers) decided to remove a “Christian,” Singha, from the speakership of Pakistan’s Punjab Assembly, saying that it was only the right of any Muslim to hold such office.
Nevertheless, CLAAS refers to Singha as “one of the Christian founders of the Pakistan” who did “great services which were hardly recognized.”
Nasir Saeed director of CLAAS-UK said that although the recognition is a bit late as Mr. Singha died in 1948, it is never too late for him to be given the respect and honor he deserves.
“This decision of the Pakistani government is commendable. I am sure it will not just raise Pakistani Christians’ morale, and make them proud, but it will go some way to restoring their trust in the government,” he said.
“It also encourages and inspires them to continue working hard to play a role in Pakistan’s security and prosperity, as their ancestors did,” Saeed added.