Islamabad, May 16, 2012 (PPI-OT): President Asif Ali Zardari has said that the Government was determined not to permit anyone to misuse blasphemy law against minorities or any other vulnerable section of the society and was also vigorously promoting interfaith harmony.
This he said during his meeting with Father Robert McCulloch, Procurator General from the Vatican, who called on him at Aiwan-e-Sadr today.
Dr. Paul Bhatti, Minister Incharge for National Harmony, Mr. Akram Masih Gill, State Minister for National Harmony, and Spokesperson to the President Senator Farhatullah Babar were also present during the meeting.
The President while welcoming him to Pakistan congratulated him for the award of Sitara-e-Quaid-i-Azam that was conferred in recognition of his multiple services spanning over 30 years for the welfare of the people of Pakistan.
It may be recalled that Father Robert McCulloch, during his stay in Pakistan, remained involved in education, health and other social services. He set up the Catholic Centre of academic excellence in Hyderabad to provide free education to children from underprivileged families.
He had also set up a health development centre. His other major contributions include taking steps to preserve language of Tharparker known as Pakrikohli. He engaged experts around the world and worked on a script to turn this language into a written language.
Spokesperson to the President Senator Farhatullah Babar said that the President during meeting commended his services for the people of Pakistan saying that the presence of Father Robert McCulloch at Vatican was a source of strength for his continuous support for Pakistan as he knows the land, people and its diversity. He appreciated the contribution of Father Robert for projecting soft image of the country.
The President said that we greatly value and appreciate the contributions of the Christian community in the socio-economic developmental process. He said that the Christians and other non-Muslim minorities have made significant contributions in the education and the health sectors besides others. He said that many missionary institutions in Pakistan were assisting the Government to promote culture of mutual understanding, tolerance and compassion.
The President while highlighting the contributions of the minorities in Pakistan also highlighted the constitutional protection to their fundamental rights. He said that the Government has taken important measures to ensure protection of the minorities.
The President said that for the first time under 18th Constitutional Amendment, the number of seats in the Upper House of the Parliament, the Senate, were increased to accommodate minorities. Abolishing the system of separate electorate for minorities, measures to ensure that blasphemy law is not misused, denationalization of catholic schools, establishment of a separate ministry to promote inter-faith harmony in the country and reserving 5% employment quota were among the important steps that the Government has taken, the President recounted.
The President said that the Government was determined to fully harness the potential and contribution of minorities in all walks of life.
He also said that we fully support international efforts to promote interfaith dialogue such as Alliance of Civilizations, ASEM Interfaith Dialogue, Nam and OIC.
Spokesperson said that while referring to recent incident of desecration of the Holy Quran, the President said that extremism and religious intolerance were not specific to any faith and location and there was a need for promoting cultural harmony.
He said that he had been continuously advocating before the international community, especially the UN, the need for working out special plans for promoting cultural and religious harmony. He said that we all need to join hands to reverse the trend of fast eroding rationality and sanity.
Father Robert McCulloch, Procurator General from the Vatican, thanked the President for meeting and assured his full cooperation in augmenting the Government’s efforts for promoting inter-faith harmony and tolerance.
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