08/11/2012, 00.00
PAKISTAN

Remembering Benazir Bhutto and Shahbaz Bhatti, Pakistan celebrates minorities

On 11 August, the 65th anniversary of the historic Ali Jinnah's speech to the Assembly, is the day dedicated to non-Muslims. Minister Paul Bhatti: "We are part of one nation" and the goal is to create "a prosperous and united Pakistan." Minorities’ integration in the political and social landscape of the country.

Islamabad (AsiaNews) - In spite of the different faiths professed, "We are part of one nation" that continues to march in order to create "a prosperous and united Pakistan", affirmed Paul Bhatti, Special Adviser to the Prime Minister for National Harmony.  He stressed the role of non-Muslims on the day dedicated to religious minorities, which is celebrated on 11 August in the whole country, the 65th anniversary of the historic speech by Mohammad Ali Jinnah, the founder of modern Pakistan, to the Assembly of the newborn State (held on 11 August 1947). The festival dedicated to minorities is inserted into the context of the words uttered by Qa'id-and-A'zam - as he is commemorated in his home nation - who repeatedly emphasized the contribution of minorities in the birth and development of the nation.

Education, health, defense are just some areas where non-Muslims were known for their commitment and contribution to the cause of the country. However, in some cases they remain helpless victims of acts of terrorism, extremism and violence which continue unabated.

In his message, the Minister for National Harmony recalled two major political figures in recent Pakistani history, killed at the hands of Islamic fundamentalists and Taliban movements. The former prime minister Benazir Bhutto and his brother Shahbaz Bhatti, a Catholic, minister for religious minorities assassinated March 2, 2011. Both were victims of fanaticism, famous for having dedicated their lives to the ideals of democracy, equality and peace in society. Shahbaz, in particular, wanted to remember their commitment against "discrimination, intolerance and religious extremism."

"We can not retreat in the face of injustice - said Paul Bhatti - or the particular mindset of the Pakistanis who want to divide and destabilize the nation." He revived the plan of following in the footsteps of two great predecessors, Bhutto and Shahbaz, and confirmed that the government intends to take up the vision of the nation's founder and create an "enlightened, liberal, progressive and tolerant" Pakistan. Among the priorities to promote a true "interfaith harmony", which can only be reached through the "inclusion" of religious minorities in the political, social, institutional and financial life of the country.

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