ASIA/PAKISTAN - “CATHOLICS HELPED FOUND OUR COUNTRY AND FORM NATIONAL IDENTITY SAYS FATHER BERNARD INAYAT
Lahore (Fides Service) – Speaking of recent tension between Muslims and Christians in Pakistan and denying the statements that Christianity is seen as a “foreign religion” Father Bernard Inayat, Head of the Pakistan Catholic Bishops’ Commission for Ecumenism Interreligious Dialogue, pointed out that “Christians played an important part in the building of Pakistan when the country was founded by Ali Jinnah nel 1947”.
When Pakistan separated from British India– he states - three Christian statesmen held the Assembly in Punjab to speak in favour of forming the new nation. They met with Jinnah many times assuring him of their support. The vote was crucial for the final decision since Parliament passed the bill with 91 votes in favour and 88 against.
Father Bernard recalls that the founder of Pakistan assured all citizens whatever their religious that they would be guaranteed the same rights as well as freedom of conscience and worship, as it is written in the Constitution. Therefore Father Bernard expressed disappointment that today many deny the contribution Christians made and continue to make to the country. Ali Jinna and many other political leaders were educated at Christian schools and colleges.
This is an important fact to recall today when fundamentalist Muslims often label Christians as “westerners and foreigners” , foreign to the cultural and religious make-up of the nation. Father Bernard’s address was broadcast by several radio stations also non Christian ones whose audience is mainly Muslim. (PA) (Agenzia Fides 4/9/2003 lines 27 words 291 )
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