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Rasheed Khalid

The News

Published Date: Nov 1, 2014

Religious diversity in Pakistan a blessing, says scholar

intellectual Ahmed Saleem, who is also senior research adviser to the
Sustainable Development Policy Institute, has said that religious
diversity in Pakistan with around six religions still in practice is a
blessing which should be distributive and not divisive.

was speaking at a seminar on ‘Peace and conflict situation in Pakistan:
religious intolerance and role of youth’ organised by the Department of
Defence and Strategic Studies, Quaid-i-Azam University, in
collaboration with SDPI. Dr Aliya H Khan, dean of Social Sciences, QAU,
was in the chair.

Ahmed Saleem said that practical
situation in the country is much different from the general perception
that minorities are just 5 per cent of the population having their
rights guaranteed in the Constitution.

He said that we
usually consider them as refugees which mostly they are not. He said
that ‘mohajirs’ are not ‘panahgirs’ as described in Punjabi. He said
that Hindus in Sindh were living there for thousands of years while
Sikhs were here with the advent of Sikhism during Mughal period.

said that division of India was made on demographic lines. He said that
on June 23, 1947, Punjab legislative Council session in Lahore decided
which areas to go to Pakistan. Three Christian Assembly members voted in
favour of Pakistan, hence the title of Punjab including Lahore came to
Pakistan. SP Singha was the deputy speaker and chairing the session and
polled his casting vote in favour of Pakistan when there were equal
votes on whether Lahore and its adjoining areas should go to India or
Pakistan. He emphasised that this fact should be mentioned in textbooks.

said that when refugees were coming to Pakistan in miserable condition,
so many Christian fathers made groups in India and Pakistan and took
Hindus and Muslims in Christian robes as Christians to save their lives.
Many of these popes were killed on both sides when discovered but we
later on did not protect the Christian minority.

Mr Saleem
said that Hindus were not going out from Sindh and there were riots in
January 1948 in Karachi and the Quaid to rush asked Muslim ‘mohajirs’ to
protect Hindus who welcomed them in Sindh. He said that no non-Parsi
could take admission in two schools run by Parsis but at the request of
the Quaid, they changed their law to admit Muslims.

said that injured refugees needed medical aid at border so some
Christians established United Christian Hospital at border for their
treatment which was later moved to Gulberg in Lahore.

said that major hospitals in Sindh, Lahore, and Sialkot were made by
non-Muslims. He also narrated a short-story of Saadat Hasan Manto in
this respect.

He said that paramedical staff in hospital
consisted of Christians in the initial period and the tradition is still
going on. He said that most of buildings in Lahore and Karachi were
made or designed by non-Muslims. He said that most of our leaders
including Quaid-i-Azam, ZA Bhutto and Benazir Shaheed were educated in
Christian schools. He said that first newspaper of Karachi
‘Jam-e-Jamshaid’ was started by Parsis. He mentioned Justice Cornelius,
Justice Durab Patel and Justice Bhagwan Das belonged to minorities. He
also referred to Cecil Chaudhry, Col Herbert and some more who fought in
wars for Pakistan. He also mentioned Kambra Jee and Dadi Leena in
social service. He mentioned writers, artists, sportspersons and poets
in this respect including Jimmy Engineer, Saleem Raza, A Nayyar, Neelo
and Shabnam. He said that we are trying to include their names in

Dr Aliya said that Dr Saleem seemed to be a sea
of knowledge. She said that it was good to devote some time to listen
to researchers who had in-depth knowledge. She said that we must be
aware of and respect rights of minorities as only then other countries
can promote Muslim minorities. She asked can we live in Pakistan without
sanitary workers, a profession Muslims do not want to adopt.

Saleem, research coordinator at SDPI, said that we should work on peace
building thus moving ahead of peace making or peace transformation.

Source :