ISLAMABAD: Pakistani Christian community will not celebrate National Minorities Day falling on August 11, community leaders said.
The International Christian Voice (ICV) is celebrating the Minorities Day in Canada where leaders of minorities from Pakistan will participate, they said.
The leaders will present a paper on how minorities are being targeted by the extremists in Pakistan, they said.
The government had declared August 11 as minorities’ day in 2009 by the efforts of then minorities minister Shahbaz Bhatti who was shot dead in the country’s capital in 2011.
The day signifies Quaid-e-Azam’s speech to Constituent Assembly on August 11 1947 in which he had said, “You may belong to any religion or caste or creed – that has nothing to do with the business of the State.”
Former state minister for interfaith harmony Akram Masih said the present day Pakistan is a far cry from the secular beginning the founder of the nation had given. The government is in no mood of celebrating minorities’ day, Masih said.
However, Information Minister Pervez Rashid said that the day was falling during Eid holidays.
“Though Pakistan is going through a testing time—but minorities are on our priority list,” he told The Express Tribune.
He criticised the way Dr Paul Bhatti and Akram Masih were portraying the picture of minorities’ rights in Pakistan. “They [Bhatti and Masih] represent their party [PPP] that is why they are politicising the matter,” said the information minister.
Dr Paul Bhatti, Chairperson All Pakistan Minorities’ Alliance said the minorities have been ignored by the current government. “We had been celebrating minorities’ day in President House since 2011—but this time things are otherwise,” he said. Minorities form 2% of the total population of 180 million in Pakistan where around four million Hindus and 2.9 million Christians live.
August 11 was not only a day where Christians were especially made part of the whole nation, but a clear and wider picture was given to the members of the Constituent Assembly, Bhatti said.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 8th, 2013.