While addressing a ceremony related to Holi in Karachi, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has said that the people of all faiths enjoy equal rights under the Constitution and no one will be allowed to create religious disharmony and instability in the country. Minorities have often been the target of unjust treatment in Pakistan. Sectarianism though not related has also become a menace in the country. The Prime Minister by speaking on a very important issue has shown the government’s will to provide an alternate narrative, one that of peace and tolerance. The ill treatment of minorities, sectarianism and terrorism all trace their roots to intolerance and extremism in the society. For years successive governments have done very little to educate the people in this regard and present an alternative narrative to counter the one peddled by extremists.
Addressing the participants of the Holi festival, the PM said that Islam has advised to treat all communities as equal, guaranteeing their rights by even enforcement of law. He said that 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.
‘Some people have been trying to do judgement in this world regarding award of hell or paradise to people but we will not allow agenda of such people to succeed,’ he said. ‘We will let the entire world to become a paradise,’ he said, adding Pakistan was created to stop the clash of religions.
‘Pakistan was created on the basis of equal rights to all communities with complete religious freedom. Muhammad Ali Jinnah and Allama Iqbal had called for complete religious freedom for followers of different faiths,’ he added. The PM vowed that attempts to create provincial prejudices or biases would not be allowed to hinder the path of religious tolerance and unity. He noted that diversity of religions and faith was a vital ingredient for unity and all the communities would have to transform this element to further foster the bonds of brotherhood and affection.
He said, ‘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. Our task is to transform this world into heaven.’
He elaborated that Islam was a religion which had given the highest priority to the sanctity of life and property of all and declared equal punishment for violators. ‘The Holy Prophet Hazrat Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him) had preached complete protection of religious worship places. 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.
The Prime Minister’s recent speech at Jamia Naeemia and the one in Karachi at a Holi function have sent out a positive message. But at the same time the hard reality is that many in the ruling party hold opinions that negate the view of the Prime Minister. The proposal being discussed in Punjab to give incentive to female students who wear Hijab is one example of the State trying to enforce religion.
Prime Minister’s stance regarding right’s of religious minorities is commendable.