Saturday, January 16, 2010
Religious minorities celebrate with enthusiasm
The Pakistan Hindu Foundation (PHF) had arranged the event. A huge tent was set for the ceremony that was decorated with buntings, national flags, photos of the heroes of the Pakistan movement and banners inscribed with patriotic slogans.
Most of the participants carried national flags; while children painted national flags on their cheeks. National songs were also played.
Addressing the ceremony and later talking to this scribe, PHF President DM Maharaj said that the hidden perpetrators of incidents such as the one in Gojra, Punjab wanted to defame Pakistan at an international level, but despite that, religious minorities trust Pakistan government.
He said that the recent rise in religious extremism in some parts of the country had spread fears among religious minorities, but the government would soon bring an end to such incidents and the minorities would be fully protected. “We hope that the current government will ensure equal rights to the religious minorities in Pakistan,” said Maharaj.
Quoting official data, he said that the population of FATA is only two percent of the total population of the country, but they are given 12 general seats in the national assembly, but religious minorities, which are four percent in comparison, are given only 10 seats and even those are reserved.
“We demand that the number of the seats must be increased in the parliament for minorities and the allocation of seats must be carried out on the basis of population among religious minorities,” he demanded.
“These seats must not be reserved seats, and all candidates must come by direct vote from the public so that they can be accountable to their voters.” Former minority MPA Bheeru Lal Balani, Nanadlal Sharma, Bagwandas and others also spoke on the occasion. After the ceremony, special prayers were held in the temple where Hindus participants gathered to pray for the religious harmony and development of the country.
The Christians also celebrated Independence Day with traditional zeal and different ceremonies were held in churches and schools. Hundreds of members of the Christian community gathered in churches in Essa Nagri, Gulshan-e-Iqbal, Christian Mohala, Azam Basti, Jamshed Town and Sultanabad to celebrate the Independence Day.
“We demand the government of Pakistan to ensure protection to the Christians and other religious minorities of Pakistan,” said president and founder of the Glory Gospel Assembly of Pakistan (GGAP) and pastor of Pentecostal Fellowship Church Drigh Road, Pastor Irfan Dean.
Dozens of Sikhs also gathered at Mazar-e-Quaid in the morning for special prayers and later they took out a rally. Wearing traditional Sikh attire and carrying national flags, they marched on different roads. Talking to this scribe, Sikh leader Ramesh Singh said that Sikhs are completely neglected by the provincial government of Sindh. “There are about 5,000 Sikhs living in Sindh, but despite that they are not given the due share in development schemes and other projects,” he said. Quoting the recent Gojra incident, he said that the government must ensure protection of religious minorities.
Source: Daily Times