Federal Minister for Religious Affairs and Interfaith Harmony Mufti Abdul Shakoor on Tuesday said that the constitution of Pakistan guarantees equal rights and proportional representation in elected institutions to minority communities for ensuring the protection of their rights.
The minister was addressing the Interfaith Harmony Conference titled “Interfaith Harmony and Contemporary Obligations” organised by the Ministry of Religious Affairs and Interfaith Harmony here at a local hotel in Karachi.
Sindh minister for minority affairs Gian Chand Essarani, MNA James Iqbal, Chairman of National Minority Commission, Chela Ram Kevlani and a number of religious leaders and scholars belonging to Muslim, Christian, Hindu, Sikh, Bahai and Parsi communities also spoke at the conference.
Mufti Abdul Shakoor, delivering the keynote address, said that Islam teaches tolerance and equality and there was no compulsion in Islam and neither constitution nor the law of Pakistan allows any compulsion over minority communities in the country.
He said the government was determined to ensure the rights and protection of minority communities according to the law of the land and taking every possible step for resolving their issues. He also noted that minority communities living in Pakistan were safe and contented. Certain problems exist in every society but we as a nation have to face those problems together, he said adding that some elements try to misuse religious cards to achieve their personal interests or for political gains but such elements should not only be condemned but also identified and brought to justice.
“Islam teaches tolerance and equality while extremism is the approach of a few self-serving people,” Mufti Abdul Shakoor opined and said that the entire nation has to stand united against the extremist approaches as those elements were harming the peaceful perception of the country.
The minister stressed the need to organising interfaith harmony conferences at college and university and district levels and urged that we should try to live our lives according to the teachings of Hazrat Muhammad s.a.w and follow the spirit of Meesaq-e-Madinah to promote tolerance and religious harmony in the society.
He said that amount of financial assistance for minorities was being disbursed directly to their bank accounts so that transparency could be maintained in the process.
Sindh minister of minority affairs Giyan Chand Essarani said that Sindh has taken lead in legislation on minority affairs, implementation of the reserved quota of 5% in public sector jobs was ensured and they had considerable representation in the provincial assembly as well in cabinet.
He said that there was unprecedented interfaith harmony in Pakistan and there was no coercion or intimidation over them while across the border in India, minority communities were unsafe and under oppression.