Pakistan will uphold and protect minorities’ rights: Masood Khan
Minorities integral part of Pakistan’s social fabric, source of national pride
Ambassador Masood Khan has said that Pakistan was committed to the ideals of pluralism and democracy and would continue to ensure protection of the rights of all citizens and promote minorities’ participation in the national life.
“Over the years, we have taken steps to empower minorities to ensure their representation in administration, legislatures, judiciary, civic institutions and the private sector”, he said.
Pakistan’s Ambassador to the United States made these remarks at the Embassy of Pakistan during a special event held to mark ‘National Day of Minorities’. Representatives of Christians, Hindus, Sikhs and other communities attended the event. A representative of the US State Department also spoke on the occasion.
Ambassador Khan assured the audience that Pakistan has been taking steps to preserve religious heritage. Opening of the Kartarpur Corridor, the Ambassador said, was widely acclaimed by the Sikh community all over the world.
“We are renovating Katas Raj temple. Other places of worship are also being renovated”, he said.
Recalling Quaid-i-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah statement, the Ambassador said, “In Pakistan, all are equal citizens of the State.”
Addressing the representatives of diaspora community of all faiths and denominations assembled at the Embassy, he said, “Your love for Pakistan is undiminishing; your affinity strong. Under this flag of Pakistan, we are all one; and we will forge ahead together.”
“Pakistani nation is a rainbow of diverse faiths and cultures. We are striving to nurture an ethos where all colors have their unique value and yet they constitute a whole”, he continued.
The Ambassador highlighted that Pakistan and the United States shared common values of religious freedom and tolerance and that the United States’ Declaration of Independence and Constitution of Pakistan enshrined tenets of religious freedom and interfaith harmony.
“We would continue to work together to promote these norms”, he said.
Ambassador Khan said that promotion of religious tolerance and fighting intolerance was an arduous journey and required constant vigilance. “The issues related to religious freedom are local, national and transnational.” For its part, he said, Pakistan will continue to promote minorities’ rights and oppose religious persecution around the world.
The Ambassador thanked Pakistani Americans belonging to monitories for their “unfailing patriotism” and their endeavors to strengthen ties between Pakistan and the United States. “You have always held the flag of Pakistan high in this land of opportunity”, he said.
Mr. Ilyas Masih, Founder All Neighbours International, organized the event and had invited guests from New York, New Jersey, Philadelphia and other places of the United States. In his remarks, he said that Pakistan was a beautiful country where Christians and other minorities were being provided great opportunities to excel in all walks of life.
Representatives of minorities community speaking on the occasion appreciated the efforts of Embassy of Pakistan for promoting interfaith harmony by observing ‘National Day of Minorities’. They said that they loved Pakistan and it does not have systematic persecution of minorities. They were proud of the heritage and their association with the country.
Mr. Surinder Singh Gill, Director Sikhs of USA, said that Pakistan was a great nation and prayed for the success of Pakistan.
Dr. Alok Srivastav, American Hindu Coalition, noted that temples in Pakistan were being protected and guarded by a Pakistani family. “Hindu call it mother and Pakistani call it grandmother”, he continued.
Mr. Rizwan Jaka, Chair of the ADAMS Board, said that Islam teaches tolerance. Allah has created tribes so that we are distinguished. “It is incumbent upon the followers to visit each other and create mutual understanding”, he said.
Dr. Akbar Khawaja , former Senator of Pakistan, said a prayer for harmony and success of Pakistan as a state.