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Unjust practice of forced conversions must end: PM

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Prime Minister Imran Khan Monday said the unjust practice of forced conversion of religious minorities needs to be stopped as it gravely violates Islamic values and the constitution.

“Those who force others to adopt a particular religion are totally unaware of the teachings of the Holy Quran and Sunnah,” he said in reference to forced conversion of Hindu girls through marriages as reported in Sindh.

Speaking at an event held in connection with the National Minority Day at the Aiwan-e-Sadr titled ‘One land, one flag and one nation’, the prime minister said the State of Medina was a civilised model of governance that needs to be implemented in Pakistan. He announced to set up chairs at the country’s leading universities for in-depth study of the subject. He said the PhD degree research will be conducted on the world’s first welfare State of Medina, which embodied principles of rule of law, justice, peace and equality for all regardless of race, religion and gender.

Prime Minister Khan said a nation cannot live without a vision, and stressed that Pakistani nation needs to follow the vision of State of Medina where all religious minorities enjoyed equal rights. “We will protect the worship places of all religions and will change the mindset of people in line with Islamic injunctions,” he assured the minority communities.

He mentioned that steps have been taken to facilitate the Sikh community through Kartarpur Corridor, which will be opened for the 550th birth anniversary of Baba Guru Nanak in coming November.

The prime minister termed accountability an important component of a welfare state and said the politicians convicted in corruption cases cannot bring even a single documentary proof. He said in 10 years, the looters of public exchequer inflicted financial loss of 24,000 billion rupees to the country and now are calling their accountability ‘political victimisation’.

Addressing the event, President Dr Arif Alvi said the concept of modern Islamic state is incomplete without principles of social equality, and assured the religious minorities in the country of full freedom to practice their faith. “Pakistan belongs to its all communities regardless of any religion which makes a beautiful bouquet of inter-faith harmony,” he said.

Pakistan has declared National Minority Day in connection with the Quaid-e-Azam’s address to legislative assembly on August 11, 1947, wherein he had stated that all citizens were free to go to their worship places without distinction of their religions or faiths.

Federal Minister for Religious Affairs and Inter-faith Harmony Pir Noorul Haq Qadri said for the last one year, the ministry has taken special steps to mark holy events of all faiths including Christmas, Holi, Dewali, Besakhi, and others.

Bishop of Lahore Irfan Jamil said the Christian community is playing significant role in fields of education, medicine, social work and even in the armed forces. He called for implementation of five percent reserved job quota for minorities in true letter in spirit, elimination of hate material from syllabus and also legislation related to Christian marriage and divorce.

Parliamentary Secretary for Human Rights in National Assembly Lal Chand Malhi representing the Hindu community expressed satisfaction that presence of both the president and the prime minister at the event for minorities shows their seriousness in making Pakistan a reflection of the Quaid’s vision.

Isphanyar Bhandara speaking on behalf of Parsi community said protection of minorities is linked with the country’s solidarity and urged the government to rename the major roads as earlier in the names of non-Muslims prominent personalities.

Dr Seema Fozdar representing the Baha’i community said Pakistan’s minorities present a beautiful mix of religions that needs tolerance and harmony for a peaceful society.