ISLAMABAD: After storming through the gates of Parliament House in protest of alleged desecration of their holy books in Sindh, Sikh protesters presented five demands to the government.
The joint opposition in the Senate had been in the middle of a press conference when the protesters entered the premises by breaking through the gate, despite a heavy contingent of police personnel being present at the location. Taken aback by the demonstration, the senators abandoned the press conference and ran inside the building.
The protesters were also not deterred by tear gas shells and went on to present their demands to the government.
The members of the Sikh community said that their religious sanctity had been violated at least seven times in the past few years. The most recent incident they cited was the desecration of the Guru Grant Sahib, the central religious text of Sikhism, in Mirpur Mathelo , District Ghotki.
Upon learning more about the protests outside, Chairman Senate Nayyar Hussain Bukhari asked the leader of the house to request the interior ministry to conduct an inquiry and submit a report by Monday.
Senator Heman Dass, who asked for the chair’s permission to address the issue, said that he had submitted a call attention notice on this matter was not allowed to speak.
The Chairman Senate maintained that nobody was allowed to force their way into the premises of the Parliament in this manner.
The gates of the Parliament were closed for more than two hours as Senator Zafar Ali Shah, MNA Dr Darshan of Pakistan Muslim League – Nawaz (PML-N) and Senator Amajeet of the Awami National Party (ANP) negotiated with a group of few dozen Sikh protesters.
The government subsequently decided that a 13-member committee of Sikhs would come forward with their demands, assuring them that the government would cooperate with them.
Senator Zafar Ali Shah then revealed that, upon forming the committee, the members of the Sikh community had apologised for entering the parliament in a violent manner.
He further added that the desecration of the holy text was an intolerable act.
Leader of the House Raja Zafarul Haq assured the 13-member Sikh committee that he would forward their demands to Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.
IG Sindh has also been informed about the concerns of the Sikh community.
The incident was an eye-opener for the authorities whose claim of ‘tight-security’ in the red zone was refuted. It was also indicative of the consistent breach of rights of other religious factions in the country and their growing frustration.
There are approximately 20,000 adherents of Sikhism in Pakistan. Earlier in March this year, Sikh residents of Peshawar had protested against the killing of a Sikh hakim in Charsadda and the abduction of two others in DI Khan.
The Inspector General (IG) of Islamabad Police, Altaf Cheema, while speaking to the media accepted that it was a security breach for which the police was to be blamed. He also accepted that despite repeated calls by the Station House Officer (SHO) Bara Kaho, Sattar Shah no steps were taken to stop the protesters.
Police officials on duty stated that they did not take action against protestors as they did not receive any orders from the top officials .
ISLAMABAD: After storming through the gates of Parliament House in protest of alleged desecration of their holy books in Sindh, Sikh protesters presented five demands to the government.
Allama Ayaz Zahee Hashmi is arrested in fraud case today. He was using the designation of our Chairman NPCIH without any proper nomination or notification in these days and using green plate on his car as well as issuing false notifications of membership in NPCIH. We hereby warned to every one, those are still using this office without our approval or nomination He / She will be arrested.
A copy of the false notification is submitted below if any one is holding this notification must not use it.
All the members of NPCIH are now once again reminded that they are not entitled to use any government plate on your vehicles or any kind of routers etc, You are not entitled for that. And you must know that all the members are going to be re-allocated and re-designated according to their education and abilities in their areas as per our newly reform policy. Therefore, all the members must send their CV’s / requests directly in the name of Chairman Prof Dr S A Abbas through Email address: email@example.com.
As per the instructions of the Federal Minister for Production, Development and Reforms, we are now re-organizing our all Tehsil/ District Committees in all over the Provinces of Pakistan. A Complaint Cell will start working and a Comparative Study Programme have been introduced in all the grass rout levels, to establish a better interfaith harmony within the Islam and with other religious communities living in Pakistan.
It has bees decided to recruit a new body of district Chairman NPCIH, based on well educated and of valuable reputation in their districts. Every district chairman is going to report directly to the Central Chairman in relation to a task given to him for prompt and proper administrative solution in future.
If you are having a good reputation and qualify our criteria of Education, you may send your CV to our Email address: firstname.lastname@example.org.
MINISTRY OF PLANNING, DEVELOPMENT & REFORMS ISLAMABAD.
Report on the Round Table Conference on Inter- Faith Harmony held at the Ministry of Planning Development and Reforms on the 22nd of April, 2014. The Ministry of Planning, Development and Reforms conducted a roundtable on Inter-faith harmony on the 22nd of April, 2014 organized by the Ministry’s Young Development Fellows (YDF’s). The event was the first in a series of roundtables that will be organized within the Ministry over the next few months. The event was an attempt by the Ministry to stimulate Inter-faith dialogue and to ensure the peaceful co-existence of many faiths and to promote a culture of peace and non-violence which will eventually allow Pakistan to move towards an era of development.
The roundtable was highly successful in that it was able to bring together a diverse group of individuals. There were religious scholars representing Islam, Hinduism, Sikhism and Christianity, along with representatives from academia, members of National Assembly, social activists and government officials at the conference. Participants included Prof. Ahsan Iqbal, Dr. Anis Ahmed, Dr. Asad Zaman(Vice Chancellor PIDE), Dr (Rev). Irfan Jamil (the Bishop of Lahore), MPA Ramesh Singh Arora,MNA Isphanyar Bhandara, Dr. Syed Akbar Abbas, Chairman (NPCIH), Jibran Nasir (Pakistan for All), Dr. Amineh Hoti (The Center for Dialogue and Action, FC College Lahore), Neelofar Siddiqui, Sahibzada Asim Maharvi Chishti , Pundit Channa Lal, Harun Khalid (Author of A White Trail), Maulana Misbah Ur Rehman Yousafi (Mufti, Faisal Mosque Islamabad), Young Development Fellows and other members of the Planning Commission.
The inclusion of such a diverse group of individuals ensured better representation of the issues faced by the religious minorities and in some cases even the majority. Sadly, Pakistan has seen a rise in religious extremism and violence and these pose a great threat to peace and stability in our society. The participants discussed the current issues that religious minorities face in Pakistan and discussed some of the potential solutions that could be used to tackle the issue of intolerance in our country.
Issues Hindering Interfaith Harmony in Pakistan.
There were some key issues that were raised during the conference and some themes that were repeated by all who were present. It is important to identify the key issues that people felt were needed to be addressed and discussed not only on this forum but on a national level, as well. There were concerns raised about the lack of respect for other religions and cultures within society.
The Minister for Planning, Development and Reform, Ahsan Iqbal pointed out that there is a prevalence of prejudice and lack of respect for other religions and cultures. It is this idea and the thought that one is better than the other which has created a sense of apathy and friction within society. There was also a realization that it is mainly the responsibility of the majority population – the Muslims, to look after and safeguard the interests of the minority that is living in Pakistan. There was a realization amongst all who attended that without ensuring the rights of every Pakistani irrespective of religious differences we cannot eliminate this behemoth of an issue. This was a point that was agreed upon by all who were present.
Chairman of the National Peace Committee for Interfaith Harmony (NPCIH), Dr. Syed Akbar Abbas pointed out that there is already a body that is working for the promotion of interfaith harmony. However, at the present moment it is not effective since there is a lack of interest to promote this organization and to implement the proposals that they have recommended. It was pointed out that after the 18th amendment it was the interest of the provinces to implement and pursue ideas that can reduce intolerance and promote interfaith harmony within the society.
The next issue which was widely discussed and highlighted by Jibran Nasir, Ramesh Singh, the Bishop of Lahore, Pundit ChannaLal and Sahibzada Asim Maharvi Chisti was the school curriculum that is being taught to children across Pakistan. There is a strong element of discrimination which an average student in Pakistan is exposed to from a very early age. Prevalent curriculum and text books highlight the superiority of one religion over the other and openly malign the minority religions. This reinforces the already promoted notions of religious discrimination that have become prevalent in society. Jibran Nasir also highlighted the plight of the Ahmedi community within Pakistan and called attention to the forced conversions of Hindus in Sindh.
A major issue that was also raised was the quality of the madrassahs and the clerics who teach in those institutions. It was highlighted and agreed upon by everyone present that the emotional and intellectual level of an average cleric is sub-par and highly damaging for the future development of our young. These individuals have no formal training and are not certified by any committee or institution to have the necessary skills to teach.
Suggested Solutions for achieving Interfaith Harmony:
Prof. Ahsan Iqbal stated that prejudices in our society will help our enemies in their conspiracy to destabilize Pakistan. The Minister recommended having a round table organized quarterly to promote social solidarity in Pakistan. Examples of Middle Age Spain and present day Indonesia were quoted as examples of societies that we should try to emulate. The importance of keeping channels between all kinds of people and faiths open so that all religions, all ethnic groups, all castes and creeds of people are recognized as full citizens of this country with something
important to contribute to the beauty and diversity of the society to which we all belong was stressed upon.
Panellists suggested reforming the current primary school curriculum in Pakistan by including various activities and projects to connect students with international community – this will also help students develop an attitude of accepting and respecting other faiths. A suggestion was also made to incorporate topics on character building and intercultural coexistence in our school curriculum. In order to improve the knowledge of various religions and the study of commonalities between different religions, study of comparative religions also suggested. This was refuted by some participants who felt that the role of state needs to be re-examined as its responsibility should be to only teach morality and not religion.
A very popular recommendation put forward by many of the participants was the need to establish a system which provides licenses and certifications to clerics who teach in Madrassahs across Pakistan. It was pointed out that these licenses should not only certify a cleric’s knowledge of his subject but should also ensure that these individuals understand the rights of all citizens of Pakistan be they Muslim or non-Muslim. These clerics must be tolerant individuals, must accept other minorities and at no cost should they be allowed to promote hate speech in their local areas. Asim Maharvi Chisti suggested that call centers should be established to report ‘hate’ crimes at the district level where people can anonymously call to report any kind of hate speech but these call centers must be subject to intense scrutiny and checks to ensure that they do not misuse their powers.
Also geographic locations which are prone to more interfaith issues should be identified through surveys and census. Many participants felt that the media exacerbated the marginalization of minorities by depicting a misleading image of the problems faced by them in Pakistan. The role of PEMRA was discussed and the need for it to reform its policy for monitoring and regulating TV content of sensitive, misleading and derogatory content relating to our minorities was also discussed.
There was consensus among the speakers that a National Committee on Interfaith Harmony should be attached to the Planning Commission as it had taken the proactive step of bringing together various stakeholders for promoting tolerance and harmony. It was also proposed that district level interfaith committees be formed in rural areas, because there is a strong link between poverty and interfaith conflicts in under-privileged areas. The religious right must also be engaged and invited to take part in these committees, in order to clear misconceptions and to promote peace and harmony amongst our diverse population. It was felt that the real problem is not about empowerment and equality of minorities but rather lies in the mindset of those who are in a majority in Pakistan and in their failure to accept minorities at an equal level.
Many members representing the minorities of Pakistan expressed how above all they were Pakistani first and were committed to this country just as much as anyone else. It was highlighted that the presence of Christianity in Pakistan dates to the 1st century (St. Thomas in Taxila) so the
association of the Christians of this part of the world with the ‘West’ or of the Hindus with India, hurt the sentiments of many people who are just as Pakistani as anyone else.
A global Interfaith Harmony week is now celebrated in the world and a suggestion was made that Pakistan must join the celebration of this week and declare an Interfaith harmony day in October. Dr. Amineh Hoti suggested publication of a monthly/quarterly Interfaith Journal to promote the cause of interfaith harmony and to increase awareness.
Dr Asad Zaman concluded the conference by highlighting three main points which will go a long way in strengthening the very foundation of interfaith harmony at the grass root levels in Pakistan. He said that our foremost priority should be our school curriculum and how we must ensure that it promotes peace and brotherhood among st our children. An inclusive approach must be adopted to reform the education system along with training of teachers because without good teachers good syllabus cannot be taught. Lastly, he highlighted how it is the responsibility of the parents to teach their children how to be tolerant citizens and the crucial role family upbringing plays in shaping the behavior and attitudes of individuals. He argued that if we are able to address the issues and implement the recommendations presented by the panelists then we will definitely pave the way for stability and development in Pakistan, as a harmonious and tolerant social fabric will act as a catalyst for development.
Organizing Committee, Interfaith Harmony,
Ministry of Planning Development and Reforms,
Government of Pakistan.
District / Tehsil Chairman of the (NPCIH) in all the Provinces are now informed that according to our new policy (in result of suggestions in the latest Interfaith Harmony Conference held under the Reformation head by Federal Minister for Planning, Development and Reform, Prof. Ahsan Iqbal) it has been decided in NPCIH Executive Committee meeting held today that all the designated Chairman should report to the Head office on our Chairman’s Cell No 0232-5744134 directly for new directions and their re-nomination / registration in NPCIH.
All previous registrations / nominations will be considered as cancelled with immediate effect and their names will be re-designated according to their education and abilities to run the said committees in their area under the new reformed policy of NPCIH.
All offices should run a “Complaint Cell” and a visible display will be arranged under the supervision of the said Tehsil / District Chairman. All the complaints must be recorded in the said office and a copy of that complaint will be sent to the Head Office and the concerned Provincial office of NPCIH.
The complaints like religious hatreds, use of speakers for the said purpose, or any kind of blaspheme against the holy books like Qur’an, Bible or any other religious books of other religions will be reported accordingly. The real evidence must be taken in custody or the names of the said person / any witness statement / document of the said incident, etc, must be forwarded immediately. So that an action against the such person may be recommended and perused by the Central or Provincial Committees immediately / effectively. Any District / Tehsil Chairman of NPCIH fails to establish such “Complaint Cell” will not be considered for the said post.
We know that all the members of NPCIH are the valued persons and the main source of our net work. They are highly respected ones for us, as they are working purely on voluntarily basis and truly we all are united to maintain the real spirit of interfaith harmony. Now to reform it, we have decided to make a policy to arrange a little finance through our own self finance basis “To Help Ourselves” through Registration /Membership / self monthly contribution. Therefore, every chairman may utilize some finance from it to run their “Complaint Cell” and could meet with it’s day by day expenses.
Moreover, every District / Tehsil office must hold a monthly meeting on 19th of every month to have a mutual understanding and develop / reform the said committee.
All kinds of suggestions may also be sent to the Chairman (NPCIH) Prof Dr S.A Abbas directly through E’mail email@example.com for prompt consideration.
on behalf of
National Peace Committee for Interfaith & Harmony (NPCIH),
NPCIH now have co ordination with wordwide groups /Committees / Ambassadors working on Interfaith/Religious Harmony.
The World Peace Religion “Monotheism Hebrew” is the only solution for interfaith harmony, peace and tolerance. The time has come now for every Church, Mosque and Synagogue that make it “The House of Peace” for every human being. This is the only way for life on earth to survive becoming a “Shudai”/ a Mono and hold the key of Love to open the door of global Peace. Our Chairman and Ambassador of peace Prof Dr. Syed Akbar Abbas said in his message forwarded to all the following groups / Ambassador’s of Peace and Interfaith Harmony.