Ambassador of Pakistan to the United States, Masood Khan has said that Pakistan is a country imbued with the spirit of religious freedom and inter-faith harmony. “Ours is a pluralist society and we promote respect for diversity”, he said.
The Ambassador was addressing an interfaith Iftar dinner hosted by the Embassy of Pakistan in which members of the Muslim, Cristian, Jewish, Hindu, Sikh and Buddhist faiths participated and spoke.
A large number of State Department and National Security Council officers, Congressional staff, members of the think tanks and prominent Pakistani-Americans attended the event.
The keynote speaker was Ambassador Rashad Hussain, United States’ Ambassador at large for International Religious Freedom.
Ambassador Masood Khan said that fasting, practiced in all religions in one form or the other, promotes sacrifice, discipline, fortitude and empathy with the poor. “Ramadan is a great equalizer. Rich and poor, privileged and underprivileged all experience hunger and thirst and together strive for physical and spiritual cleansing”, he said.
The Ambassador said that Pakistan was trying to create a democratic society where all citizens enjoyed equal rights, without discrimination.
Father Dan Rooney, Dr. Talib M. Shareef, Rabbi Lustig, Bhante Upartana, Ms. Lee Bachu, Mr. Jasvinder Singh highlighted the themes of peace, religious harmony and respect for human rights.
Rashad Hussain, US’ Ambassador on Religious Freedom lauded Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah’s vision for religious freedom, protection of rights of all minorities and a polity based on the tenets of equality and tolerance for all. The famous anthropologist and a renowned author, Dr. Akbar S. Ahmad cited the last letter of Prophet’s life written to the Monks of Mount Sinai which had affirmed protection of the rights of the minorities especially Christians in a Muslim state.
Ambassador Masood Khan said that Pakistan was trying to promote dialogue amongst civilizations and inter-religious as well as inter-denominational harmony which should build underpinnings for a world moving towards peace, security and prosperity. “Let this century be remembered for promoting harmony among followers of different faiths and reducing confrontation”, he said.
Interfaith Iftar dinner is a yearly feature at the Pakistan Embassy which is commended by followers of all religions. At the event this year, participants characterized the Pakistan event as singular in its nature in Washington DC which brings forth a spirit of universality and harmony among followers of diverse faiths. They were all happy that they broke bread and fast together at the Pakistan Embassy.—INP