International Minorities Alliance demands Pakistan to be run according to the vision of its founder.
International Minorities’ Conference 2011 was organized by International Minorities Alliance on “Equal Citizenship, Equal Rights” at Avari Hotel, Lahore, Pakistan on Jan 23, 2011. The historical Conference was presided over by a renowned poet and intellectual Mr. Nazir Qaiser while Ms. Shakila Rashid Khanam, former Federal Minister, ambassador to the Norway and member of the Central Executive Committee of Pakistan Peoples Party and Chairman of NPCIH Allama Syed Ayaz Zahir Hashmi were the Chief Guests.Delegates representing different religions i.e Christians, Sikhs, Zorasters, Hindus, Bahai’s and Muslims participated from all the four provinces of Pakistan and abroad.
Call to speed up Pakistan’s interfaith dialogue:
National Peace Committee for Interfaith Harmony(NPCIH) Chairman Allama Syed Ayaz Zaheer Hashmi, Nazir Qaiser(Chairman International Minorities Alliance), Shakeela Khanum Rasheed(MNA, PPP) , The Bishop of Karachi Dr Ijaz Inayat, Dr Hizkiul Sarosh, Bishop Ibrahim Daniel, Dr. Badar Munir Saifi(President Ulma Mashaik Wing PPP,Lhr), Martan Javed Martan, Ilyas A Khan, Om Parkash Narayan, Dr. Mastaan Singh, Muhammad Safdar(General Secretary Liberal Forum,Lhr), Ilyas A Khan(President Pakistan Minorities Foundation)Raja Abbas(President Civil Society Organization), Rafiq Kazim Paseen(Sr Vice President PPP, Kot Radhakishan), Dr Manohar Chand( President Pakistan Balmik Sabha), Dr Maipal Singh and Dr Khalid Javed Jan expressed these views while addressing an international minority conference held under the auspices of International Minority Alliance at a local hotel on Sunday (January 23).
The speakers urged to launch a campaign at grass root level to reform the thinking and attitude of various segments of the society in a bid to promote peace and harmony between the majority and minority of the country.
They said minorities had played key role in creating Pakistan shoulder-to-shoulder with their Muslim brethren but it was astonishing that there was acknowledgement to these efforts at present and minorities suffer from discrimination and marginalisation.
They said that the persons who raised their voice for the minorities were silenced and it was high time to get united at a single platform to protect the rights of the minorities with the message of love, peace and tranquillity. The speakers while appreciating the role of the prime minister and president for carrying out efforts to promote interfaith dialogue, they stressed the need for further speeding up the process in order to counter the insane voices to bring complete peace in the country.
Alleging some groups without naming them for killing innocent people, they warned that it would be tantamount to set a dangerous trend if it was not stopped at this moment.
Syed Allama Ayaz Zaheer Hashmi, PM’s advisor on National Committee for Peace and Harmony said that it was responsibility of Ulema, intellectuals and the media to support the concept of interfaith dialogue which opens doors for presenting the message of Islam to the non-Muslims communities. Allama also elaborated his plans to promote interfaith harmony through educated force from the universities and civil society.
IMA demands ‘equal citizenship, equal rights:
Mr. Nazir Qaiser introduced the objectives of International Minorities Conference 2009 and said,” We want Pakistan a truly democratic state on the equal citizenship. Where there is no discrimination of any citizen on any basis. It must be shaped according to the vision of its pioneer.”
Ms. Shakila Rashid Khanam, the chief Guest said,” There is sense of depression and deprivation in the religious minorities of Pakistan in acute manner. We are facing economic, socio –politico and strategic crisis right now. We should solve our problems at our own, and make Pakistan a sensitive and responsible state. She also said all religions are beautiful.”
Dr Hizkiul Sarosh said,” State must recognize the contribution of minorities in the creation and construction of Pakistan and in different segments of development. He also emphasized the role of Christian women in the development of Pakistan especially in the fields of education and health.
The Bishop of Karachi Dr Ijaz Inayat said” Our state has deliberately ignored the contribution of minorities in the curriculum. Present day Pakistan is not according to the vision of the Quaid-e-Azam who dreamed of a secular, liberal and democratic state of Pakistan which has emerged as a theocratic state right now.
“The population is not educated,” he says. “The majority of the people do not know a lot about religion as a result they are exploited by certain groups to maintain a crisis situation.” They are fed lies, he says. “They are told that killing non Muslim is ‘jannat ki chabi’.”
Dr. Badar Munir Saifi says Islam is a religion of peace, love and marcy and Islam is tolerant of other religions. He stressed upon the need to speed up interfaith dialogue process to root out terrorism and extremism from Pakistan. “Terrorism and religious fanaticism took our Quaid Benazir Bhutto’s and Salman Taseer’s life. But the extremists cannot kill their dream.”
Mr. Om Parkash Narayan said ‘Hindus have been given the status of a second-class citizen in Pakistan.’
Kidnapping for ransom, kidnapping of girls, subsequently their conversion under what he said was ‘coercion’ and discrimination on various counts, are the factors which have made the Hindus lose heart.
Dr Manohar Chand tendered congratulations to IMA’s Chairman Nazir Qaiser for arranging what he called a historical event in the history of Pakistani religious minorities. He expressed the hope that IMA would continue to raise the voice of the oppressed in Pakistan.
Dr Mastan Singh said that minorities are being killed and kidnapped and their houses being demolished or burnt in different parts of the country and to other Pakistanis must stand by them in these critical hours and give them a sense of oneness and brotherhood.
Dr. Mahipal Singh says he is proud to be the first Pakistani Sikh doctor in government service. He also said that the Sikh community did not have access to such professional institutes because of a lack of opportunities.
“Literacy rate among Pakistani Sikhs is low. There is only one Sikh officer in Pakistan Army and one is serving as a traffic warden in Lahore.”
He said the government should review its policy regarding minorities’ rights. He said poor but talented Sikh youth should be admitted to government and non-government educational institutes to help them get higher education. “Due to lack of facilities our Sikh youth cannot compete with other students.”
Mr. Karamat Ilyas Chaudhary Media Coordinator IMA stressed the importance of peace and inter-faith harmony which would lead eventually to the unity for a betterment of Pakistan. He also stated that their alliance always worked hard to uphold noble values of human rights, individual freedom and equality to every citizen of Pakistan.
Mr Raja Abbas denounced the recent murder of the Governor of Punjab, Salman Taseer, saying he had been killed for defending the right of a member of the minority.
Mr. Jeem Phey Ghauri International General Secretary (IMA) made an address via telephone and spoke on minorities rights and religious extremism. He said that the founding father of Pakistan Mr Jinnah’s historic speech delivered in the first Constituent Assembly on August 11, 1947 should be added to the Constitution of Pakistan, which sets basics of a real democratic state and provides equal citizenship to all Pakistanis without any discrimination of religion, cast and creed.
Mr Ilyas A Khan said that the great services of non-Muslims for the creation and construction of Pakistan should also be acknowledged and be included in the syllabus history books and all discriminatory legislation should be repealed.
Mr. Rafiq Kazim Paseen says “We have to stand up against extremism so moderation could prevail and Pakistan can be strengthened economically and put on the road to progress and prosperity through religious harmony and liberal democracy”.
Mr. Martan Javed Martan said that main stream political parties should give party tickets to non-Muslims on general seats, in the constituencies where minority vote can play a vital role.
Mr. Muhammad Safdar said that liberals must join the fight against radicalism and we need to stop extremism coming from all sides.
And the scribe(Junaid Qaiser) suggested, We can solve a lot of problems of the minorities, if we implement international conventions in letter and spirit. The state must conduct itself neutrally in order to preserve the respect for, and dignity of, these religious entities. The present government of Pakistan is trying to address the problems of minorities. Moreover, Chairman PPP Bilawal Bhutto Zardari promised to defend the minorities of Pakistan against threat from extremists. In doing so he has removed all ambiguity in PPP stance on discriminatory laws and obscurantism.
Speaking on the occasion, NPCIH Chairman Allama Syed Ayaz Zaheer Hashmi, the chief Guest said that PPP came to power at a difficult time but it is trying its best to pull the country out of present crisis under the sagious leadership of President Asif Ali Zardari.
Allama also said, “ The address of the Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah that he delivered in the Constituent Assembly of Pakistan on August 11, 1947 must be included as a part of the constitution of Pakistan and the biased Objective Resolution which was passed in 1949 must be excluded from the constitution. State affairs must be run according to the vision of its founder which provides equal opportunity to all Pakistanis without any distinction of religion, caste or creed. Pakistan must be run according to the vision of the father of the nation.
“On the behalf of the prime minister,I want to assure you of my government’s full support to the rights of all religious minorities in Pakistan” he added