APP79-14 KARACHI: March 14 - Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif addressing the gathering on the occasion of Holi Festival, organized by Minority Wing of PML-N Sindh. APP Photo by Syed Abbas Mehdi

KARACHI, March 14 (APP): Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif Tuesday said his government stood for the complete religious freedom of all communities and without discrimination, ensured them equal rights as enshrined in the Constitution.
Addressing a ceremony held here to mark the Hindu festival of Holi, the prime minister said Islam treated all communities as equal, guaranteeing their rights by even enforcement of law.
He said the government would ensure complete freedom for all the religious minorities and if required further legislation would be enacted with stringent enforcement of laws for their rights and protection.
He said Pakistan was created on the basis of equal rights to all communities with complete religious freedom. Quaid-i-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah and Allama Iqbal had called for complete religious freedom for followers of different faiths, he added.
The prime minister vowed that attempts to create provincial prejudices or bias would not be given room and hinder the path of religious tolerance and unity.
He noted that diversity of religions and faiths was the vital ingredient for unity and all the communities would have to transform this element to further foster the bonds of brotherhood and affection.
He regretted that in the past, some elements wanted to weaken Pakistan by misusing religious differences or distorting the history, but the nation had rejected such attempts.
“As a nation we share the common woes and joys. We are one,” he declared. Extending greetings to the Hindu community on their religious festival, the prime minister said his government was committed to ensure equal opportunities for all the communities so that they could excel in different fields of life as such steps would help usher in collective prosperity.
“Our task is to transform this world into heaven,” he stressed.
He elaborated that Islam is a religion which has attached the highest priority to the sanctity of life and property of all and declares equal punishment for violators.
He said the Holy Prophet Hazrat Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him) had preached complete protection of religious worship places.
To force someone to abandon his faith was a crime and such spirit was manifested in the Constitution, which was framed after complete consensus of all the political parties and religious leaders, he added.
The prime minister said all the faiths shared similar teachings.
Allama Iqbal, he said, had declared religious intolerance as indication of the petty thinking and conceived Pakistan to be a place of religious freedom and harmony.
On the occasion, Sindh Governor Muhammad Zubair, federal ministers Khawaja Saad Rafique, Ahsan Iqbal and Kamran Michael, members of parliament, provincial assembly, provincial PML-N leadership and a large number of Hindu community members were present.
The prime minister said those elements, who tried to create fissures in a society on the basis of religion, had no place among the people.
He stressed that the people should stand for truth and reality as these were the qualities which guaranteed complete peace and harmony in a society.
He expressed pleasure over attending the event, saying today, all the communities across the length and breadth of the country were closely attached in bonds of interfaith harmony.
Terming the Holi an event for change, colours and happiness, the prime minister said Pakistan was also transforming into a prosperous country and the world had acknowledged its economic turnaround under his government.
The world appreciated the positive changes in Pakistan, he said and referred to a positive report published in The Economist enlisting achievements gained by the country in the recent years.
“Spring is also dawning upon the motherland, colourful flowers are sprouting. Pakistan has a very bright future,” he added.
Pakistan’s development and prosperity, he said, belonged to all the people, whether they were young or old, or belonged to any community.
On the occasion, he announced an amount of Rs 500 million for the betterment and welfare of Hindu community and assured further assistance in future.
The prime minister urged the people to stand together for protecting the religious places of all communities.
He said there was no dispute over the religious freedom in the country today, the only tussle going on was between the good and the evil, the progressive and the retrogressive elements.
The ones, who wanted better future for its youth, and the others, who wanted to exploit them. One side wanted prosperity whereas the other was out to wreck havoc, he added.
The prime minister said the people had to prioritize their national responsibility and strengthen further unity in their ranks and fight the forces of fear, anarchy and injustices.
He noted with satisfaction that the nation had never encouraged paltry politics for anarchy and commotion.
About peace in Karachi, the prime minister said due to his government’s steps, lasting peace had been restored in the port city.
He said now the roads and streets were more secured as compared to three years back, when family members had to pray for the safety of their relatives and school going kids. The residents had also witnessed sharp decline in the cases of abduction for ransom.
He said for the development of Karachi, the federal government was implementing K-4 Water Supply Scheme with provision of 50 per cent funding.
On the pattern of Metro Bus Service, the federal government with a cost of about Rs 18 to 20 billion was constructing Greenline Bus Service in Karachi, he added.
The prime minister said the six-lane Hyderabad Motorway was also being completed with high quality work and with the assistance of federal government.
He lamented that after 1999, work on the motorway projects had stalled, but now his government was completing the same linking all parts of the country which would not only reduce the travelling time and distance among cities but also bring the people further together.
The prime minister said the Health Card Scheme should also be launched in Karachi and throughout Sindh. During his visit to Thatta, he had mulled over the initiative, he added.
Earlier, addressing the ceremony, PML-N Sindh chapter leaders Dr Darshan Punchi, Sham Sundar Advani, Kail Das Kohistani, Islmail Rahu and others lauded the efforts of the government for protection of the rights of religious minorities.
They said due to prudent policies of Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif, Pakistan had achieved milestones of historic progress and prosperity.
They said the peace had restored and all the religious communities were contributing towards the development of the country with equal opportunities in all walks of life.