04/04/2008, 00.00
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Enough discrimination, Christians want to be an integral part of the nation

by Qaiser Felix
The Masihi Aman Party along with members of the Sardogha District Council hand out gift packages to local needy families. Muslim politicians say Council sessions should open with readings from both the Qur‘an and the Bible, thus putting into practice true co-existence between religions.

Sargodha (AsiaNews) – Christians “are an integral part of life in Pakistan; they are citizens like everybody else” and for this reason a “strong signal of true religious freedom should be sent. District council meetings should not open with a reading from the Qur‘an alone but should include the Bible. This would show everybody that the inter-faith vision of the Father of the Nation Ali Jinnah can become a reality.” This is what some members of the Sargodha District Council have proposed during a ceremony in which gift packages (groceries) were handed out to 352 poor Christian families in this eastern part of the country.

The Masihi Aman, a Christian party calling for the full integration of the Christian community into the nation based on the notion that the Qur‘an also recognises Christ, organised the hand-out last Tuesday. District Coordination Officer Hameed Amjad Warraich and Deputy Mayor Mian Sultan Ranjha were present.

“We would like to do more for those who live in poverty but our funds are limited. Let us pray God that the difficult situation that is affecting Pakistan may end soon. Christians have a crucial role to play in society and like everybody else have contributed in creating it. Now we must show that the desire for an inter-faith society expressed by Ali Jinnah, Father of the Nation, is feasible.”

Ranjha, who also sits on the District Council, added: “Christians do not need a certificate to prove they have an equal citizenship. We do not believe in majorities and minorities but only in citizens. I respect and care about you; we are all members of the same community.”

The fact remains though that Pakistan’s tiny Christian community (about 0.9 per cent of the population) is at risk. Repressive laws and social discrimination make it hard for Christians to live their faith and improve their social condition.

According to the deputy mayor this is why “it is necessary to send clear signals of good will. For this reason we should open each session of the Council reading verses from the Qur‘an as well as the Bible. Good examples should be put into practice and not preached only.”

Ejaz Ghauri, president of Human Development Net and general councillor in Faisalabad, took part in the ceremony.

“I appreciate a lot the contribution, both material and in terms of intentions shown on this occasion. We must do such things as early as possible in Faisalabad,” he said.

“Handing out gift packages is just one of the many activities we promote. We are trying to get the government to grant us some land to give to Christians who have no home. We want to set up some small colonies to help the neediest,” Party Chairman Mushtaq Gill told AsiaNews.

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