Solidarity with minorities

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PRIME Minister Nawaz Sharif is visiting different parts of the country these days to launch developmental projects, announce new programmes, preside over meetings to mull over ways and means to improve security and express solidarity with sections of the society that are considered to be marginalised. After interior Sindh, he thought it appropriate to visit the provincial capital for two days and then Gwadar as part of his strategy to deliver a message of hope to the countrymen.
During his stay in Karachi, the PM did well by participating in religious festival of the Hindu community Holi, becoming first head of the state to have taken part in this spring festival. He also stated categorically that no one can force any member of a minority community to convert and that his government was committed to implementing legal and constitutional safeguards meant for minorities. The remarks are important as these come at a time when the Sindh Assembly passed a bill criminalising forced conversion while the National Assembly passed a widely hailed legislation aimed at regulating Hindu marriages. These would help protect rights and interests of Hindus, affording them an opportunity to play their due role in national life with full peace of mind and devotion. Hindus constitute only a fraction of the country’s population but it is appreciable that, along with other minorities, they have adequate representation not only in provincial assemblies, National Assembly and the Senate but also in the Federal Cabinet as well as in local bodies that really matter in resolution of problems at gross-roots. All this is in sharp contrast to ground realities in India where, according to a latest US Congressional report, hate crimes against minorities, their social boycotts and forced conversions have escalated dramatically since 2014 i.e. after assumption of power by extremist BJP. The report also refers to India’s cow protection laws, which, it says, are often mixed with anti-Muslim sentiment. In this backdrop, Prime Minister decision to celebrate Holi with Hindus is not only a message for the community that they are equal citizens of the country but also to the world that Pakistan cares for its minorities in every way.