06/05/2008, 00.00
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Pakistani Church urges government to uphold the constitution against extremism

by Qaiser Felix
In a press statement issued by the National Commission for Justice and Peace, Church leaders call on the government to amend the constitution to fight discrimination and religious intolerance. They also express support for the judges sacked by Musharraf.

Lahore (AsiaNews) – The Catholic Church in Pakistan has called on the government to implement “concrete constitutional amendments” to defeat “religious intolerance” and re-establish the principle of equality for all the citizens of the country. Catholic bishops also stressed the importance of re-instating all the judges sacked by President Musharraf in last November’s coup d’État. The demands were made in a joint statement signed by Archbishop Lawrence John Saldanha and Peter Jacob, respectively chairperson and executive secretary of the National Commission for Justice and Peace (NCJP).

“It can not be assumed that increasing the number of reserved seats in the parliament as proposed in the package announced will change the humiliating socio-economic conditions of religious minorities in Pakistan,” said the press release, which referred to proposed reforms made by the Pakistan People’s Party in recent weeks that would give minorities representation in the Senate.

For the NCJP though, there is real religious discrimination in the country based on anti-constitutional laws like the blasphemy law. For this reason the constitution must be fully implemented in order to guarantee every citizen social justice and equal opportunities. Only thus can discrimination and inter-faith violence, which cause social divisions, be avoided.

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