3:00 pm to 5:00 pm
SDPI Seminar Hall, 38 Embassy Road, G-6/3, Islamabad
- Romina Khurshid, Member National Assembly of Pakistan
- Dr. Abid Q. Suleri, Executive Director, SDPI
- Dr. Humaira, Research Fellow, SDPI
- Ahmed Salim, Senior Advisor of Education and Religious Diversities, SDPI
- Amir Goraya, Assistant Country Director, UNDP
- Mome Saleem
Since the very creation of Pakistan (and even before) the role of Pakistani religious minorities has been eminent and commendable in nation building and social welfare. A good proportion of social development in the country can be attributed to the contributions of Non-Muslims in areas such as education, health and other political, social and cultural fields. Unfortunately, these contributions are seldom talked about in the public arena or in the curricula.
Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah in a press conference on 14 November 1946 said “….I am NOT fighting for Muslims, believe me, when I demand Pakistan.” The Non-Muslims also proved their loyalties to the words of Quaid and staunchly played their role in advocating for Pakistan at all levels. Examples of this could be found in the events where before the creation of Pakistan, three Christian parliamentarians in Punjab Assembly voted in favor of Pakistan. These votes were decisive and hold a great value in the Pakistan Movement.
Education has been another major area where the Non-Muslims generously contributed. After partition, the Parsee community, despite their strict rule about admission of Non-Parsee communities opened the doors of its educational institutions to the Muslim refugees from India. The eminent leaders of Pakistan Movement were also groomed by Christian education institutes of the sub-continent including Quaid-e-Azam. Even today the leadership of the country including Zia ul Haq, Zullfiqar Ali Bhutto, Benazir Bhutto, Nawaz Sharif and General Pervez Musharraf acquired their education from missionary institutions. The chain of Convent schools around the country is one such example.
Besides education health contributions of Non-Muslims are praise worthy. Starting from the 1947 partition of the subcontinent where it was the Christian community that erected health camps in border areas for Muslim refugees coming from India. Likewise same efforts were done for people of other religions who were victim of atrocities during partition. Even today the prominent and high quality health centers and educational institutions are run by Hindu community. Ganga Ram Hospital in Lahore and Dyal Singh College are some examples from Punjab.
There are many great names in literature, sports and other cultural activities like Bepsi Sidhwa. Despite these contributions and efforts the participation of Non-Muslims at policy making platforms and in the society stays low. This exclusion is partly due to the biased mindset and also structural discrimination against the Non-Muslim citizens of Pakistan.
Considering this challenge and lack of recognition of Non-Muslim citizens, SDPI first and foremost proposes to celebrate the contributions and pay homage to religious minorities by way of holding a seminar. Besides it is also initiating “Parliamentary Non-Muslim Caucus” to strengthen the role of Non-Muslim parliamentarians so that the required political change could be brought about.
The event can also be watched live at http://www.sdpi.tv/live.php