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Monthly Economic affair

Published Date: Oct 6, 2014

Contributions of minorities to nation-building recalled

The important role played by
religious minorities in the creation and development of Pakistan was
recalled by the participants of seminar organized by the Sustainable
Development Policy Institute (SDPI).

Speaking at the seminar titled ‘Role of Minorities in
Nation-building’, Romaina Khurshid, MNA from the Pakistan Muslim
League-Nawaz, said that legislation must be drafted to put a stop to the
practices of forced religious conversion and forced marriages of girls
belonging to minority communities. “Minorities made important
contributions for the creation of Pakistan and have a right to practice
their religion,” she said.

She expressed concern over reported cases in which girls as young as
16 and 17 years of age were forced into marriages to Muslims and
converted against their will.

She quoted from a press conference by the Quaid-e-Azam Mohammad Ali
Jinnah held on November 14, 1946 where he said: “I am not fighting for
Muslims, believe me, when I demand Pakistan.”

The role of minorities in Pakistan’s creation and development is undeniable

“Non-Muslims played their role in the development of the country but
their services are hardly recognised. Lahore is part of Pakistan because
three Christian members of the Punjab Assembly, in 1947, polled their
decisive votes in favour of Pakistan,” she said.

Romaina Khurshid reminded the audience that education is another
major area in which minorities have made significant contribution. Right
after Pakistan came into being, Quaid-e-Azam requested the Parsee
community to allow Muslim children to be admitted to their schools.
Since then Muslims have studied in Parsee institutions.

“Eminent leaders of Pakistan including Quaid-e-Azam, Liaquat Ali
Khan, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, Zia-ul-Haq, Benazir Bhutto, Nawaz Sharif and
General Pervez Musharraf got their education from missionary schools,”
she added.

She said that Hindu community has also made contributions to health
and education. Ganga Ram Hospital and Dyal Singh College are some
examples from Punjab.

Prominent writer Ahmed Salim speaking at the event said that our
textbooks didn’t recognise the services of minorities. “Non-Muslims are
four to five per cent of the population but their role in the
development of the country is enormous. Now minorities complain of
forced conversions and marriages,” he said.

Mr. Salim criticised the role of political parties who don’t give
general membership to non-Muslims but have created minority wings.

“Extra points are given to Hafiz-e-Quran in appointments and
admissions to different departments and institutions, but the same is
not done for non-Muslims if they know some chapters of their religious
book. This practice affects merit,” he said.

SDPI Executive Director, Dr Abid Suleri, underscored the importance
of minority rights. “If minorities in Pakistan are not being treated
well, how can we expect Muslims in other countries to be treated
equally?” he said.

Mr. Suleri said that with the support of his organization, a
‘Parliamentary Non-Muslim Caucus’ has been established to strengthen the
role of non-Muslim parliamentarians. “This platform can be used to take
collective decisions,” he said….. EA Report

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