Karachi, December 24, 2012 (PPI-OT): President Asif Ali Zardari today reiterated commitment of the democratic government towards the welfare of the non Muslim brethren living in Pakistan and said that we will continue to fight along with our Christian brothers and sisters for the rights of all non-Muslim and deprived citizens. Together we will continue our struggle for establishing a just, liberal and pluralistic society in Pakistan.
The President said while addressing a function in connection with Christmas celebrations at Mohatta Palace Karachi tonight.
Those who were present included among others , Mr. Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, Ms Bakhtawar Bhutto Zardari, Governor Ishratul Ibad, Chief Minister Syed Qaim Ali Shah, Dr. Paul Bhatti, Minister for National Harmony, Mr. Akram Masih Gill, Minister of State for National Harmony federal and provincial Ministers, parliamentarians and Bishops.
The President on the occasion felicitated Christian brethren and wished the Christian community a Merry Christmas and very happy New Year.
According to prepared text of speech, the President called for disapproving the prophets of gloom and doom and those who talk of a clash of civilizations and urged the need for harmony between civilizations. Religious tolerance and Harmony is the best weapon to fight hatred and violence, he said and urged for employing these weapons in fighting bigotry and hatred.
The President while referring to the Jesus Christ message of love, peace, forgiveness and brotherhood said that Christmas was a time for festivity, celebration and rejoicing and reminds us all the message of Jesus Christ. We Muslims deeply revere Jesus Christ as one of the great messengers of Allah, he said.
Commenting on recent times of strife, violence and militancy, the President said that Jesus Christ’s universal message of love for mankind is most relevant today. He said that five years ago we lost Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto to senseless violence , we lost Shahbaz Bhatti and only two days ago Minister of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Bashir Ahmed Bilor and countless martyred during the past years. He urged the need for imbibing the teachings of love and harmony preached by Jesus Christs.
We uphold the right of the Christians, indeed of all non Muslim citizens, to be treated as equal citizens of the state, the President said and added that we firmly believe that everyone must partake in the development of the country on an equal footing.
The President admired the Christians living in Pakistan for their contributions in the development of the country and termed them a law-abiding and loyal community.
The President said that the best tribute to Prophet Jesus is to imbibe the values of peace, love, tolerance and brotherhood which he said are the values common not only in Christianity and Islam, but also in other religions.
Commenting on Government’s steps for uplift of minorities, the President said that protection of the rights of all citizens- Muslims and non Muslims alike- is one of the main agendas of the Government and said that we are determined to empower them and end discrimination against them.
The President on the occasion also recounted various significant measures undertaken by the present Government for welfare of minorities in Pakistan including allocation of four reserved seats in Senate, five percent job quota for them in all Federal Government Jobs, commemorating 11th August every year as Minority day, establishment of a Hotline for the timely redressal of grievances of the non-Mulsim citizens and considering establishment of Interfaith Harmony Committees at district level. The Interfaith Harmony Committees, the President said are meant to create better understanding between the Muslim and Non Muslim citizens of the state.
He said that efforts are also afoot to increase minority seats in the National Assembly. The President said that present Government decided to commemorate 11th August every year to remind the nation of the Quaid’s historic speech in the Constituent Assembly in 1947 declaring equal rights for non Muslim citizens of state.
The President recalled that historic address, in which the Founding Father of Pakistan Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah said,”You are free; you are free to go to your temples, you are free to go to your mosques or to any other place of worship in this State of Pakistan. You may belong to any religion or caste or creed that has nothing to do with the business of the State.
We are starting in the days where there is no discrimination, no distinction between one community and another, no discrimination between one caste or creed and another. We are starting with this fundamental principle that we are all citizens and equal citizens of one State.”
The President on the occasion extended his appreciation to all the dignitaries and members of diplomatic community for maintaining cordial and friendly relations between Pakistan and their countries and wished them all merry Christmas and a very Happy New Year.
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