Interfaith harmony great need of hour: President

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Interfaith harmony great need of hour: President

ISLAMABAD, Dec 23 (APP): President Mamnoon Hussain Friday emphasized that interfaith harmony was a great need of the hour than ever before.
Addressing a dinner reception he hosted as part of the Christmas celebrations at the Aiwan e Sadr, the president said the religion of Islam granted equal rights to all citizens of the state.
Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif, Begum Kalsoom Nawaz, First Lady Begum Mahmooda Mamnoon Hussain, Minister for Religious Affairs and Interfaith Harmony Sardar Yousuf, Minister for Human Rights Senator Kamran Michael, senators, parliamentarians, diplomats and representatives of Christian community attended the special ceremony.
The ceremony was started by recitation of verses from Holy Quran and Holy Bible.
The hall of the presidency was decorated with Christmas trees, colorful lights, Christmas themed buntings, baubles, foil balls and garlands.
The prime minister along with federal ministers and Christian leaders also cut the cake to mark the Christmas.
On arrival at the Aiwan e Sadr, the prime minister was warmly received by President Mamnoon Hussain. The two also held one on one meeting wherein they discussed matters of national importance.
Addressing the gathering, the president said interests of all segments of society were safeguarded in the constitution and this was sign of a good society.
He said the national flag of Pakistan was unique in the world which represented people belonging to all faiths.
That was the reason, representation of minorities in all elected bodies including the parliament had been ensured, their family and inheritance matters enjoy constitutional and legal protection, the festivals of minority communities were celebrated at national level and special measures were also taken for the safety and upkeep of their places of worship, he added.
The president said Pakistani society had completely rejected extremism and sectarianism.
He stated that sometimes when an unpleasant situation was created as a result of an accident or an untoward incident then certain people tried to create mistrust by fuelling misunderstandings.
No doubt, such a negative tendency could be curbed by apprehending mischievous elements but the social pressure would produce more effective, pleasant and lasting results, he underlined.
The president said under the able guidance of Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif, National Action Plan (NAP) had been formulated and under NAP indiscriminate action had been taken across the country due to which the law and order had improved and expressed optimism that the situation would improve further in the future.
He stated that the presence of Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif and highest leadership of the country in today’s ceremony was reflective of unity and harmony with the Christian community.
The president said Christian community in Pakistan was rendering commendable services in the fields of medicine, defence and education.
He said a good and civilized society was recognized from the fact that various segments of it adopted new methods of communication with each other for mutual harmony by employing creative approach.
The president underscored that it was the responsibility of all schools of thought to always strive for peaceful co  existence and social harmony.
The president on behalf of the people, the government and on his own behalf congratulated the Christian community all over the world including Pakistan on the occasion of Christmas.
Minister for Religious Affairs and Interfaith Harmony Sardar Yousuf said his ministry was striving for promotion of interfaith harmony in the country.
He said it was dire need of the hour to address the challenge of religious intolerance from the society among different faiths through constructive dialogue.
Minister for Human Rights Kamran Michael lauded the government’s efforts for welfare of non Muslim communities and also abolished the term ‘minority’.
He resolved that the non Muslim communities of Pakistan would make the country a hub of peace and appreciated the government’s tradition of celebrating Dewali, Besakhi, Christmas and other festivals of non Muslim communities.
President of the National Council of Churches in Pakistan, Bishop Azad Marshal read out the Christmas message in which he highlighted the teachings of the Holy Christ preaching love and peace.