ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif said his government was taking measures to mainstream minority communities living in the country by providing them with a level playing field.
“The idea is to enable and facilitate all segments of society, particularly our non-Muslim citizens, to take a full part in the national life,” he said in a message on National Minority Day.
Sharif said the government was taking steps to provide equal opportunities to minorities such as allocation of special quota at representative fora, and also in educational institutions and other services.
He mentioned other measures for the uplift of poor minorities including dedicated financial support for their emancipation.
Sharif said mending the fault lines of socio-religious exploitation besides eradicating its causes was the cornerstone of the government’s policies.
The prime minister mentioned that National Day of Minorities, which is celebrated on August 11 every year, serves to highlight the contributions that the non-Muslim citizens made to national development.
“This day we express our gratitude to our minority communities for their meritorious services for the uplift of the motherland,” he said. “The day also reminds us of our constitutional, religious and political responsibility to protect their rights and freedoms.”
He said Islam is a religion of peace, harmony, and tolerance. According to the Quran, there is no compulsion in matters of religion, he added.
He said the Quranic precept coupled with the sunnah of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) provides a basis for the principle enunciated by the founding father, Muhammad Ali Jinnah, in his historic address to the nation on August 11, 1948.
Emphasising freedom of religion and sanctity of the lives and property of minorities, he said the right had further been statutorily formalized in the country’s constitution.
PM Sharif said the government stands committed to these obligations and officially celebrates August 11 to reiterate its resolve towards the achievement of the noble objective of building an inclusive society in line with the vision of Jinnah.
He reaffirmed the coalition government’s resolve for the betterment and welfare of minorities and their fullest inclusion in national life and development.
“I will also avail myself of this opportunity to call upon our brothers and sisters from all minority communities to keep playing their role for the promotion of an atmosphere of tolerance and mutual accommodation,” he said.
He said: “This is the only course which leads to the achievement of our shared objective of promoting interfaith harmony and peace in our society. Pakistan belongs to its people without any discrimination of caste, creed, and colour.”