PAKISTAN: August 11 is a special day in our national Calendar when we reiterate our commitment to the ideals of the Quaid-e-Azam to continue striving for the protection of the rights of all faiths and bringing them in the mainstream of national life. On this day we reaffirm our pledge to honour the commitment made our great leaders of according equal treatment to all our citizens irrespective of their religion, caste and creed.

This day marks the vision of Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah that he highlighted in his address to the Constituent Assembly on August 11, 1947. The Quaid said: “You are free to go to your mosques or other places of worship in this state of Pakistan. You belong to any religion or caste or creed that has nothing to do with the business of the state. We are starting in the day when there is no discrimination, no distinction between one caste, creed and colour. We are starting with this fundamental principle that we are all equal citizens of the state.”

The minority day provides us an opportunity to reassure that despite the diversity in our faiths, we are one nation and are working together for a united and prosperous Pakistan. By observing this day, we are also giving a clear message to the world that the Pakistani society is based on religious harmony, social justice, and human equality.

Let me take this opportunity of repeating Quaid-i-Azam’s words on March 21, 1948 to a Mass Rally at Dhaka. “We shall treat the minorities in Pakistan fairly and justly. We shall maintain peace, law and order and protect and safeguard every citizen of Pakistan without any distinction of caste, creed or community”.

The observance of Minorities’ Day reflects our commitment to integrate people of all faiths in the national mainstream. The Government has all along struggled to uphold the rights of the people of different faiths. We will continue our struggle to do even more.

I am confident that together we shall make Pakistan a strong, progressive and tolerant nation where the minorities have equal rights.

Let us on this day also pledge to promote democratic values and culture as a necessary tool of promoting tolerance, peace and harmony and ending violence and extremism as well as alleviating the sufferings of non-Muslim brethren.