Holding that attacks on minorities posed a “great challenge”, Pakistani Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani on Tuesday reiterated the government's resolve to safeguard their rights as envisaged in the constitution.
“The sporadic events of terrorism against minorities are a great challenge for us. But every one of us is sure that such events are part of a conspiracy to destablise the growth and development of Pakistan,” he said in a message on Minorities Day that is being observed in the country for the first time.
“On this day, I reiterate that the rights and privileges of all the minorities living in Pakistan shall be fully safeguarded by the people’s government as enshrined in the constitution of Pakistan in accordance with the guiding principles laid down by the father of nation in his historic speech of August 11, 1947,” Gilani added.
Seven Christians were killed in the communal riots that erupted in the Punjab province's Gojra town earlier this month over the alleged desecration of the Quran. Masked gunmen also torched the houses of some 100 Christians.
The incident had figured in the National Assembly, the lower house of Pakistan's parliament, Aug 4 with the house unanimously adopting a resolution condemning the attack and calling for stern action against the perpetrators of the violence.
“This proves that Pakistanis can act as one nation without any distinction of religion, caste, culture, creed or language as envisioned by our great leader Quaid-i-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah,” Gilani noted.
This apart, the declaration of Aug 11 as Minorities Day was clear proof of the government’s commitment to ensure equal rights for all communities in Pakistan, he added.
“It is a moral and social obligation of our society to strengthen the bond of love and to promote the culture of tolerance in the country. Indeed this is the very need of the time as right now the main fabric of our society is threatened due to virulent intolerance and lengthening shadows of terrorism,” the prime minister maintained.
He also called for “conscious efforts” for the socio-economic uplift of the under privileged and marginalized section of society so as to integrate them and bring them in the mainstream.
“This day provides us a chance to reassure that despite belonging to different faiths, we are one nation and we are to struggle together for a prosperous Pakistan by developing interfaith harmony,” Gilani said.
“I wish the minorities of Pakistan all the best in their future endeavours”, he added.