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The Express Tribune

Published Date: Nov 2, 2014

Give equal status to minorities, says scholar

Speakers at a seminar demanded equal rights and respect for religious minorities in the country.

Quaid-i-Azam University (QAU)’s Department of Defence and Strategic
Studies and the Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI) jointly
organised an interactive session titled “Peace and Conflict in Pakistan:
Religious Intolerance and Role of Youth” on Friday.

Progressive writer and intellectual Ahmed Saleem said that though
religious minorities constitute a small portion of Pakistani society,
there are six religions in practice in the country. “This diversity
should be considered a blessing,” he said.

Saleem, who is a senior research adviser at SDPI, said the practical
situation in the country was much different from the general perception
that minorities are just five per cent of the population with their
rights guaranteed in the Constitution. “Hindus in Sindh have been living
there for thousands of years while Sikhs were here with the advent of
Sikhism during the Mughal period,” he said.

He said the division of India was made on demographic lines. On June
23, 1947, the Punjab Legislative Council session in Lahore decided which
areas would go to Pakistan. Three Christian assembly members voted in
favour of Pakistan. “DP Singha was the deputy speaker and polled his
vote in favour of Pakistan when there were equal votes on whether Lahore
and its adjoining areas should go to India or Pakistan.” He said this
fact should be included in our school textbooks.

Narrating the services and contribution of religious minorities
towards society, Saleem said major hospitals in Sindh and Punjab were
established by non-Muslims.

He also mentioned contributions of non-Muslims in the social sector,
literature, sports, politics, defence and judiciary, and mentioned
Justice Cornelius, Justice Durab Patel and Justice Bhagwandas, Cecil
Chaudhry, Col Herbert, Kambra Jee and Dadi Leena, Jimmy Engineer, Saleem
Raza, A Nayyar, Neelo and Shabnam.

“Hindus and Christians are part of Pakistan and should be given due respect and importance,” he stated further.

QAU Social Sciences Dean Dr Aliya H Khan and SDPI researcher Mome Saleem also spoke and answered questions from students.

Source : http://tribune.com.pk/story/784686/interactive-session-give-equal-status-to-minorities-says-scholar/