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January 12, 2017

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Nawaz says he is not PM of Muslims only

Nawaz says he is not PM of Muslims only

Asserts he attends functions of Muslims, non-Muslims, turbaned, non-turbaned, bearded, non-bearded people without discrimination; those involved in mud-slinging creating despondency in nation

KATAS RAJ TEMPLE: Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has made it clear that he is the prime minister of all Pakistanis, not Muslims only, and Muslims, Hindus, Sikhs, Christians, Parsis, Bahais all are equal for him.

The premier said Pakistan is attaining identity as a minority-friendly country where all segments of the society and followers of every religion would be equally treated. He was addressing a big gathering of distinguished people belonging to different faiths here on Wednesday after inaugurating refurbishment, renovation, water filtration plant and planting a sapling in the premises of the Katas Raj Temple. 

The premier said he attends the functions of Muslims, non-Muslims, turbaned, non-turbaned, bearded and non-bearded people without discrimination. The water filtration plant has been installed on Amrat Jal (cure water) of the temple believed to be sacred in the Hindu religion. The prime minister, who cited several Hadiths, Quranic verses, Punjabi poetry and pieces from literature in his lengthy address, emphasised the significance of affection for humanity. The address of the prime minister turned into an impressive sermon. He reminded that followers of all religions have equal rights in Pakistan and they are working hand in hand to defend the country and contribute to its peace and prosperity. He said he had directed Chairman Evacuee Trust Property Board(ETPB) Siddiqul Farooq to leave no stone unturned in preserving, renovating and expanding holy places of different religions. 

The prime minister said Islam and all other religions preach peace and affection and those preaching otherwise are not doing any service to the religion. The premier also referred to the upsurge in economy and development activities undertaken by his government in throughout the country. He said humanity is the greatest religion of all and no one is permitted to discriminate on the basis of caste, colour and creed.

Nawaz Sharif said being the prime minister of all Pakistanis, it is his religious obligation to take care of every citizen of the country without any discrimination. He made it clear that he is the prime minister of all Pakistanis, be it a Muslim, Hindu, Sikh, Christian, Parsi, Bahai or any other, as they all are equal. He said Islam in particular forbade anyone from calling bad names to other religions and their places of worship and forbid lying. 

“Salam, Namaste, Satt Sri Akaal and good afternoon to all my brothers and sisters belonging to different religions,” the prime minister greeted the audience at the outset and received a cheerful applause. He said the multi-faith gathering is reflective of inter-faith harmony in the country. “While everyone is free to pursue his particular religion, they all had a common objective of taking care of humanity. We have to work together in unity to build Pakistan and strive for humanitarian causes," he said.

The prime minister said in the earlier days of Islam, Muslims being a minority had to face a very tough time and were forced to migrate and on their return from Medina after becoming a victorious majority, they took good care of people believing in other faiths. He said the Holy Prophet Hazrat Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him) entered into several agreements with people of other faiths, including tribes of Yasrab and Jews. He said it is the moral responsibility of all to keep divine scriptures and religious books in high esteem and regretted that some religious leaders fanned sentiments of hatred among the people in sheer misinterpretation of Islam. 

The prime minister said that the history of Katas Raj Temple is over six thousand years old and it is a focal point of four civilisations, including Hinduism, Sikhism, Buddhism and Christianity. He mentioned that Persian scholar and polymath Al-Beruni had computed earth's circumference in its vicinity. Nawaz Sharif said all efforts must be made to restore the Katas Raj Temple to its original condition so as to preserve its historic significance. He asked the ETPB chairman to benefit from the remaining one and a half years of his government's tenure and do his best in providing all possible facilities to the religious minorities. He also said that he would lend his full support for the construction of Baba Guru Nanak and Gandhara universities. He said that Islam also forbids people from levelling baseless allegations against others with a malicious intent. Such negative trends, he added, are harming the society and detrimental to progress and development. 

The prime minister referred to the daily "mud-slinging" by some media persons on television and said they are creating despondency in the nation. Nawaz said when he took over, the country was mired in serious issues, however, with persistent efforts and commitment, his government was able to successfully tackle those. He mentioned power loadshedding, poor road network, terrorism and several other challenges that were addressed by his government. He said his government was even building major roads in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, despite claims of others for "making a new Pakistan". He said the travel time from Peshawar to Karachi through the six-lane motorway would be cut drastically and people would be able to go from one place to other in a day. He regretted that the previous governments had failed to undertake any major project. 

The prime minister recalled he earlier in the day handed over 200 buses for students of all educational institutions in Islamabad and specified that the buses would benefit all students belonging to all faiths. 

Asfandyar Bhandara, a Parsi MNA, lauded the government for taking practical steps to safeguard the religious property of the minorities. He said the number of visitors from India had risen from 1,500 to 2,500 annually. The minority community, he added, stood with the government. 

Dr Darshan Lal Pankwani, a Hindu MNA, lauded the prime minister for taking the country out of several challenges and said his successful policies had left the opposition in disarray that had nothing to do but to level baseless allegations. He said that owing to laudable efforts of the government, Imran Khan would not have a chance even in the 2023 polls.

Bishop of Pakistan Alexander John Malik said the prime minister’s vision for Pakistan is praiseworthy and the minorities are happy that he had taken along all the minorities in the development and progress of the country. He said the prime minister had never imposed his will on anyone and believed in consensus.

Sardar Tara Singh lauded the government for the upkeep of the Gurdwaras. He said that the government is according equal treatment to all the minorities and particularly thanked the prime minister on behalf of the Sikh community.

Siddiqul Farooq said he was specially tasked by the prime minister to take special care of the minorities and to make them comfortable. He said that he did not have to go far to learn what to do as there are ample examples from the life of Holy Prophet (Peace Be Upon Him) where he took special care of the people of other religions. He said that special measures were taken for taking care of the old books of Sikhs, fully in accordance with their religious edicts. He also informed the gathering of the development projects at the site of Katas Raj Temple.

Minister for Religious Affairs Sardar Yousaf said religious festivals of the minorities are being observed at the government level. He said serious efforts are being made for greater inter-faith harmony.

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