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Efforts to promote pluralism, religious harmony urged

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Minorities Alliance Pakistan (MAP) Chairman Akmal Bhatti Advocate on Wednesday vowed to focus his efforts on promoting pluralism and religious harmony in the country in line with the vision of late Shahbaz Bhatti who was murdered by the extremists eleven years ago.

The MAP chairman was addressing a conference titled ‘Minorities’ Unity and Solidarity Conference’ held on the 11th martyrdom anniversary of late Former Federal Minister for Maritime Affairs Shahbaz Bhatti.

He said the Alliance would continue to fight extremism, violence and hatred based on sectarianism for plurality in the society to ensure peace and progress of the country.

On the occasion, Akmal Bhatti urged the participants to observe one minute silence to honour and pray for the departed soul of Shahbaz Bhatti.

He said the Alliance has demanded the government to ensure electoral reforms to give voice to the marginalized religious minorities of the country and devise legislation to ensure equal rights to the children of minorities to follow their faith in educational institutions.

“As per the essence of the Constitution of Pakistan, no child of non-Muslim parents should be discriminated against in the name of religion,” he emphasized.

He concluded that the community should never give up on the cause set by late Shahbaz Bhatti.

MAP Vice-chairman Shamaun Alfred Gill paid homage to the sacrifices of the slain leader for the religious minorities. He also lamented the misuse of blasphemy laws. Gill expressed concerns over growing extremism and intolerance in the society.

 Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) leaders, former Senator Farhatullah Babar and Islamabad district PPP president, Syed Sibtul Haider Bokhari also addressed the conference. Both the leaders were of the view that every individual should play their role to carry forward the mission of late Shahbaz Bhatti for a peaceful and all inclusive society.

Peace & Development Foundation Executive Director and rights activist said the martyrdom of Shahbaz Bhatti left the Christian community in deep shock.

“Today is Ash Wednesday, a day to mourn the miseries of Jesus Christ. Today we remember Shahbaz Bhatti for his efforts to promote interfaith harmony,” the executive director added.

She said Bhatti was striving to bridge the gap between various segments of society to get rid of violence and extremism.

“Christian community has played a key role in the creation of Pakistan and will continue its role in nation-building.

Bishop Samuel Azriya said, “We should seek God’s guidance to carry  forward Shahbaz’s mission.”

He urged his peers that there was a need to win the hearts of fellow Pakistanis through the message of acceptance, peace, love, care, and unity. “We need a systematic effort to achieve equality for all,” he emphasized.

Former MNA Asiya Nasir, MAP leader Shireen Aslam, MPA Wilson Wazir and others also expressed their views and demanded the quarters concerned to ensure the protection, equality and peace for minorities.

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