ASIA/PAKISTAN - The Bishops: the new government must guarantee freedom and limit religious discrimination

Thursday, 6 September 2018 justice   peace   politics   religious minorities   human rights   religious freedom   discrimination  

Lahore (Agenzia Fides) - "The new government in Pakistan aims at creating a social state according to the vision of Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah (the founder of Pakistan), in which the state is responsible for education, health and the occupation of its citizens. The government is called to promote freedom of thought, the abolition of corruption and curb religious discrimination in Pakistan": this is the wish expressed by the National Commission "Justice and Peace" (NCJP) of the Bishops of Pakistan, in a message sent to Fides, in which the current political situation of the nation is commented.
The general elections were held in Pakistan on 25 July 2018. The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) became the largest political party, obtaining the majority of seats in the National Assembly: 138 seats out of 272. At a provincial level, PTI has become the largest party in Punjab (winning 179 seats in the provincial assembly), confirmed as the first party in the Kyber Pakthun Khawa province (winning 84 seats), and was the second largest party in Sindh province (with 30 seats in the provincial parliament), while it obtained its first 7 seats in the Assembly of the Baluchistan province.
Through the Justice and Peace Commission, the Bishops of Pakistan express the hope that "all three pillars of the nation: executive, legislative and judicial power, work together to build a prosperous and peaceful nation".
Archbishop Joseph Arshad, at the head of the diocese of Islamabd-Rawalpindi and President of the Commission, notes that "the Catholic Church supports this democratic transition and will collaborate with the new government in every possible way for progress and peace in Pakistan". And he stresses that "the government should also give priority to issues concerning religious minorities, so that they are well integrated into society and feel proud to be responsibly an integral part of the nation". According to Arshad, it is desirable to establish the Ministry for Minority Affairs, both at provincial and federal levels, giving at the same time due representation to minorities in all ministries. "The government should set up the national Commission for the rights of religious minorities, and people belonging to minority religious communities should play a role in the government: protecting minorities is a major responsibility of the executive. Pakistan belongs to minorities as well as to the majority", he adds.
On behalf of the Catholic Bishops, Mgr. Arshad urges "to work together to relieve the communities and the weak and marginalized people of society and to guide youth and the nation towards peaceful coexistence, working sincerely for the common good of all citizens of Pakistan". (PA) (Agenzia Fides, 6/9/2018)