Despite a lack of of interest from the newly elected Government of Pakistan towards celebrating Minorities Day, Christian Groups made an effort
Pakistan United Christian Movement (PUCM) held a celebration termed "Equality Day," in Rawal Pindi yesterday (Sunday 11th August 2013), on the day designated as "Pakistan Minorities Day" in 2009, after a concerted campaign from assassinated Minister for Minorities Shahbaz Bhatti.
The day signifies Quaid-e-Azam’s speech to the Constituent Assembly on August 11 1947 in which he had said, “You may belong to any religion or caste or creed – that has nothing to do with the business of the State.”
The leaders presented a paper on how minorities are being targeted by extremists in Pakistan. and expressed their distaste that the existing Government of Pakistan "Are in no mood for celebrating Minorities’ day."
Information Minister Pervez Rashid in a Public statement had said that the day was not being celebrated as it fell within Eid holidays. He said;
“Though Pakistan is going through a testing time—but minorities are on our priority list,”
Talking to the gathering at Christian Study Centre – CSC Albert David, Chairman PUCM criticized the government, declaring that Chrisians held the position of "second class citizens" in the country.
"Minorities have been ignored by the current government. August 11th was not only a day where Christians were included as part of the whole nation, but a clearly defined as important to the members of the Constituent Assembly," he said.
Tahir Naveed Chaudhry Ex-MPA launched a new political party this Minorities’ day. Talking to the media at the launching ceremony of Pakistan Minority Alliance- PMA, he said'
"I will continue the struggle of Shaheed Shahbaz Bhatti, who played an important role, in improving the lives of Pakistani Minorities. I will continue the mission he started"
Samuel Yaqoob, Chairman Muslim Masihi Ithad, led a protest outside the Press Club Islamabad. He stated,
"We have equal rights according to the founders’ speech, but religious extremists are trying to divide citizens of the country."
On behalf of British Pakistani Christian Association BPCA, Shamim Masih, a journalist and representative of the group in Pakistan, held a historic meeting with leaders from key faiths in Lahore. An agreement was made for a peace mural to be incorporated at Joseph Colony Badami Bagh, Lahore that will promote tolerance and peace. Shamim Masih spoke about the project;
"Work will begin as soon as funds have reached our target amount and the project itself will be a collaboration of many faiths and will incorporate a myriad design using key motifs of all major faiths."
Wilson Chowdhry Chairman of the BPCA said;
"The Government of Pakistan has illustrated that they will not tolerate the celebration of Minorities living in the country, during the holy period of Eid. Article 2 of Pakistan's Constitution clearly states; "
|Islam shall be the State religion of Pakistan." and this fact alone enshrines a principle that all other faiths are secondary, and a natural pariah status to believer of non-Islamic teachings. The Christian community of Pakistan have upheld Minority Day celebrations, despite Governmental insouciance and we pray that this will not manifest in attacks on our communities." |
He added; "We challenged Shamim Masih to hold dialogue with faith leaders of all faiths near the recent attack on St Joseph's Community. Our intent was to create an art feature that could act as a beacon of hope for future generations, whilst symbolising the futility of hatred and intolerance. The meeting was purposefully held on "Minorities Day", as Jinnah's words and Shahbaz Bhatti's efforts have made this date symbolic in the cause of interfaith harmony. If we are able to successfully install our monument, it will probably be Pakistan's first multi-faith artwork project. This could become a trigger, for a more collaborative approach to tackling equality issues in the country."
Art has been intrinsic to cultural, social and political reform globally. The BPCA is seeking donations towards this latest project that has multi-faith support and will no doubt be a first in a nation whose main art influences are specifically Islamic exclusively. If you would like to contribute please use the following details:
Bacs transfers can be made to our bank account:
Sort Code: 20-67-90
Account number: 63468976
Alternatively if you would like to send a one of donation please use the pay-pal facility on the top right hand corner of our blog, or simply send a cheque made payable to the BPCA to our address; 57 Green Lane, Ilford, Essex, IG1 1XG.