Special Representative to the PM on Interfaith Harmony and the Middle East Hafiz Tahir Mehmood Ashrafi on Sunday said no one would be allowed to harm any minority group in the name of religion in Pakistan.
“Islam is a religion of peace and Muslims believe in respecting humanity,” he said while addressing a news conference at the Punjab Institute of Quran and Seerat Studies.
The Interfaith Harmony Council and Muttahida Ulema Board (MUB) held a meeting at the centre on Sunday in which all members expressed their satisfaction over religious freedom in Pakistan.
Ashrafi said that whenever minority communities faced some issue, the MUB always tried to solve it in consultation with all stakeholders. He added that that around 127 cases of alleged forced marriages and conversion of religion etc were presented before the MUB in 2020 and all of them were resolved amicably.
He said that Islam strictly prohibited forced marriages and conversions, adding that no Muslim could think of going against the teachings of Islam.
“There is no concept of forced marriages or conversion in our religion.”
Ashrafi said that a 16-member committee including Sikh, Hindu and Christian members had been formed under his supervision to settle the interfaith violence issues.
"We will also meet leaders of all religions to settle their issues related to the majority community across Pakistan.”
He said on December 4, the first official meeting of the committee would be held in Lahore. He said that at the MUB platform, 113 cases of minority communities were resolved during the last year.
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He said that it was found during the consultations that domestic violence in most cases had forced people to take such steps [conversion and marriages].
There were various other reasons also, but religion had nothing to do with those incidents, he added.
“It is the responsibility of the majority community, Muslims, to take care of the rights of minorities. We are committed to ensuring protection of the rights of minorities in the country.”
The PM's representative said that the leadership of all religious schools of thought in the country was united that the rights of minorities would be protected at all levels.
Ashrafi noted that more than 200 children had been murdered in India and more than 150 mosques demolished there, but the US had designated Pakistan as a country of particular concern. He added that apparently the US report was based on mere assumptions.
He said the young generation must come to the forefront to play their role in eradicating extremism, terrorism, dowry rituals and for spreading the moderate message of Islam.
He claimed that conspiracies were being hatched to spread anarchy in Pakistan through fanning sectarian violence and sowing seeds of hatred against the country’s security institutions.
To a question, he said: “We are thankful to the government and people of Saudi Arabia for extending help to Pakistan in the shape of State Bank of Pakistan deposits and provision of oil on deferred payments.” APP
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