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PPP govt committed to protect minority rights: PM Raja Pervaiz Ashraf

Lahore: Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf on Sunday said that
the PPP-led government was committed to protect the rights of minority communities living in Pakistan.

He was addressing an international seminar and cultural programme ‘Aj Sikh Qaum Kitthey Kharri Hai?’ organised by Dyal Singh Research and Cultural Forum (DSRCF) in connection with the 544th birthday celebrations of Baba Guru Nanak, here.

Punjab Governor Sardar Latif Khan Khosa, Federal Minister for National Heritage and Integration Samina Khalid Ghurki, Minister of State Akram Maseeh Gil, ETPB Chairman Syed Asif Hasmi, Sikh Yatrees Jhattha (Group) Leader Sardar Jang Bahadur Singh, Sardar Manmohan Singh Khalsa from the UK, Sardar Resham Singh Ji Babbar from Germany and All Pakistan Sikh Gurdwaras Parbandhak Committee’s Chairman Sardar Shaam Singh were prominent among the participants.

The Prime Minister said that the PPP government believed in promoting
interfaith harmony and the relations between Sikh and Muslim communities in Pakistan were a very good example in this context. The government, he added, had also established a separate Ministry of National Harmony to facilitate the minorities as well as restore their sacred places to enable them to perform their religious rituals with freedom as envisaged in the manifesto of Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP).

Raja Pervez Ashraf greeted the Sikh community on the 544th birthday of their spiritual leader Baba Gura Nanak. “It is a pride for us that Pakistan has many holy places of Sikhs and wherever in the world you live, you have religious attachment to this soil.”He said that the Sikh and Muslim communities of the sub-continent had identical values and cultural heritage. The most common value is “Tawheed” (Oneness of God), and “we have to promote and strengthen these relations,” he

The Prime Minister said that Baba Guru Nanak was a great econciliator and reformer and was strongly against social immorality and lawlessness. Baba Guru had always advocated for love, human friendship, fraternity, peace, justice,truthfulness and harmony that was why people belonging to every religion respected him.

Islam also advocates justice, peace, love, fraternity, equal rights for all segments of the society, including minority communities and ensures minorities respect and security while setting aside all petty disputes that cause extremism and inter-faith hatred, he added.

The Prime Minister also took notice of the visa constraints for Sikh
Yatrees by the company hired by Pakistan’s Embassy in the UK and tasked the Evacuee Trust Property Board’s Chairman Syed Asif Hashmi to look into the matter.He also announced the establishment of a passport office in Shahdara,Lahore.

Earlier, Federal Minister Samina Khalid Ghurki said that the PPP government was taking all possible steps to mitigate problems of Sikh Yatrees. Minister of State Akram Maseeh Gill welcomed the Sikh Yatrees and said that together they were taking forward the Baba Guru’s message of peace.

Sikh Yatrees’ Group Leader Sardar Jang Bahadur Singh said that they felt pleasure to be on the land of their spiritual leader and expressed their complete satisfaction over arrangements put in place by the Pakistani government for the convenience of Yatrees.Sardar Manmohan Singh Khalsa said they felt pleasure that Pakistan and
India should come closer together and resolve all their mutual disputes with sincerity and in a democratic manner. “Whatever the nature of Pak-India relations may be, we believe in Sikh-Muslim friendship which must continue come what may”,he added.

Sikh leaders also called for simplifying the visa procedure as well as enhancing the Sikh Yatrees’ visa quota up to 25,000 individuals, thus creating space for more Sikhs to perform their religious rituals in Pakistan.

Later, the Prime Minister presented shields to the prominent Sikh guests and others.

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