Nawaz for unity to weed out religious hatred

LAHORE, Dec 21 (APP): Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif Saturday stressed the need for forging unity and promoting interfaith harmony to eliminate religious hatred, terrorism and extremism. He was addressing a function in connection with Christmas here at Governor’s House where Punjab Governor Chaudhry Muhammad Sarwar, Federal Minister for Ports and Shipping Senator Kamran Michael, Punjab Minister for Human Rights and Minorities Tahir Khalil Sindhu, Bishop of Lahore Irfan Jamil, Archbishop of Roman Catholic Church Sebastian Shaw and a large number of Christians, Sikhs, Hindus, Parsis and Muslims were also present. Nawaz Sharif said that all religions, including Islam and Christianity, aimed at purification of the soul, adding that Muslims also have faith in Hazrat Essa (AS) (Jesus Christ) as the prophet of Allah Almighty and the Muslim’s belief could not be completed until and unless they believe in all holy books including the Bible as well as all prophets.
The prime minister said that exploitation of religion created hatred among followers of various faiths that ultimately disturbed social peace, adding that a handful of elements were hellbent upon spreading religious hatred and creating sectarianism by exploiting religion and unfortunately such elements also existed in Pakistan.
“The elements attacking churches and mosques and other worship places do not have belief/faith or respect for holy places. We must have to obstruct the way of the elements by forging unity in our ranks and promote interfaith harmony,” he maintained.
He said the birth of Hazrat Essa (A.S) was a clear message of peace  and security for humanity and his teachings were a beacon of light that enlightened the world.
“Islam also advocates love, peace, harmony, fraternity and tolerance,”  he said, asserting that interfaith harmony could be promoted by taking forward religious commonalities.
The prime minister said that Christians and other minorities had been playing an active role in the development of Pakistan and prosperity of the peopple since its inception.
“The Constitution of Pakistan provides equal opportunities to minorities living in Pakistan,” he said and cited that Quaid-i-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah and the Pakistan Resolution also emphasized equal rights to minorities.
The prime minister said the PML-N government was formulating and implementing policies to ensure equal rights to all citizens irrespective of their colour, caste and creed.
“The government also discouraged  discrimination on the basis of religion, caste and colour in its recently launched PM’s Youth Programme,” he said and advised the minority youth to benefit from the opportunity.
“Terrorism, poverty and ignorance have no religion and are affecting people across Pakistan, therefore, peace and prosperity must be for all citizens irrespective of their caste, colour and creed. We have to provide access to education, ensure peace and bring about prosperity to all Pakistanis without any discrimination,” he added.
At the end, the prime minister along with other distinguished guests  also cut a Christmas cake. (Courtesy: APP)