Safeguarding rights of religious minorities a priority: PM

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APP70-11 KATAS RAJ: January 11 - Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif inaugurating a water filtration plant at Katas Raj Temple. APP

KATAS RAJ (Chakwal), Jan 11 (APP): Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif Wednesday said safeguarding rights of religious minorities in the country would be ensured and every effort would be made to give them due status in the society.
The Prime Minister, who earlier inaugurated refurbishment, renovation and a water filtration plant at the Katas Raj Temple, said humanity was the greatest religion of all and no one was permitted to discriminate on the basis of caste, colour and creed.
Nawaz Sharif said being the Prime Minister of all Pakistanis, it was his religious obligation to take care of every citizen of the country without any discrimination.
“I am the Prime Minister of all Pakistanis, be it a Muslim, Hindu, Sikh, Christian or any other, you all are equal,” he said.
He said Islam in particular forbade anyone from calling bad names to other religions and their places of worship.
The event was significant as it was attended by representatives of Muslims, Sikh, Hindu, Christian and Parsi religions.
“Salam, Namaste, Satt Sri Akaal and good morning to all my brothers belonging to different religions,” the Prime Minister greeted the audience, receiving a cheerful applause.
Nawaz Sharif said the multi faith gathering was reflective of inter faith harmony in the country. While everyone was free to pursue his particular religions, they all had a common objective of taking care of the humanity.
“We have to work together in unity to build Pakistan and strive for humanitarian causes,” he added.
The Prime Minister said in earlier days of Islam, Muslims being a minority had to face a very tough time and were forced to go in exile, however on their return from Medina becoming a majority, they took good care of people believing in other faiths.
He said Holy Prophet Hazrat Muhammad (Peace be upon Him) entered into several agreements with people of other faiths, including tribes of Yasrab and Jews.
He said it was the moral responsibility of all to keep divine scriptures and religious books in high esteem and regretted that some religious leaders fanned sentiments of hatred among people in sheer misinterpretation of Islam.
The Prime Minister said the history of Katas Raj Temple was over 5,000 years old and was a focal point of four civilizations, including Hinduism, Sikhism, Budhism and Christianity.
He mentioned that Persian scholar and polymath Al Beruni at the same place had computed earth’s circumference.
The Prime Minister specially directed the Chairman of the Evacuee Trust Board to take care of the properties of the minorities and ensure they were in the best possible condition.
He said all efforts must be made to restore the Katas Raj Temple to its original condition so as to preserve its historic significance.
He asked Siddique ul Farooq to benefit from the remaining one and a half year of his government’s tenure and do his best in providing all possible facilities to the religious minorities.
Nawaz Sharif said the religion Islam also forbade people in levelling baseless allegations against others with a malicious intent. Such negative trends, he added, were harming the society and detrimental to progress and development.
He referred to the daily “mud slinging” by some media persons on television and said they were a cause of creating despondency in the nation.
The Prime Minister said when he took over the country was mired in serious issues, however with persistent efforts and commitment, his government was able to successfully tackle those.
He mentioned loadshedding, poor road network, terrorism and several other challenges that were addressed by his government.
He said his government was even building major roads in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, despite their (PTI) claims for “making a new Pakistan”.
He said the travel time from Peshawar to Karachi through the six lane motorway would be cut drastically and people would be able to go from one place to other in a day.
He regretted that previous governments failed to undertake any
major project.
The Prime Minister recalled he earlier in the day handed over 200 buses for the students of all educational institutions in Islamabad. He specified that the buses would benefit all students, belonging to all faiths.
Asfandyar Bhandara, MNA, lauded the government for taking practical steps to safeguard the religious property of the minorities.
He said the number of visitors from India had risen from 1500 to 2500 annually. The minority community, he added, stood with the government.
Dr Darshan Lal, MNA, lauded Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif for taking the country out of the several challenges and said his successful policies had left the opposition in disarray, who had nothing to do but to level baseless allegations.
He said owing to laudable efforts of the government, Imran Khan
would not have a chance even in 2023 general election.
Bishop Pakistan Alexander John Malik said the Prime Minister’s
vision for Pakistan was laudable and the minorities were happy that he had taken along all the minorities in the development and progress of the country. He said the Prime Minister had never imposed his will on anyone and believed in consensus.
Sardar Tara Singh lauded the government for the upkeep of the
Gurdawaras. He said the government was according equal treatment to
all minorities and particularly thanked the Prime Minister on behalf of the Sikh community.
Chairman Evacuee Trust Property Board Siddiq ul Farooq said he
was specially tasked by the Prime Minister to take special care of the minorities and to make them comfortable. He said he did not have to go far to learn what to do as there were ample examples from the life of Holy Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon Him) where he took special care for the people of other religions.
He said special measures for taking care of the old books of Sikhs, fully in accordance with their religious edicts. He also informed the gathering of the development projects at the site of Katas Raj Temple.
Minister for Religious Affairs Sardar Muhammad Yousaf said five per cent quota had been allocated for jobs in the government sector, besides a number of other incentives were available for them. He said religious festivals of the minorities were being observed at the government level. Serious efforts were being made for greater inter faith harmony and several conferences had been held for better understanding, he added.
The Prime Minister earlier also planted a sapling on the premises of the temple.