Minority rights key to harmony between religions, Firdous Ashiq

Lahore: Special Assistant to Pakistan’s Prime Minister, Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan, on Saturday said Sikhs and Muslims should work in unison to defeat extremism and intolerance in the world.

Addressing the International Sikh Convention here at the Governor’s House, she said the Sikh religion had many ideals in common with Islam.

Baba Guru Nanak was influenced by Islam’s philosophy of Tauheed (Oneness of God), she added.

The International Sikh Convention is being held from August 31 to September 2, at the initiative of Punjab Governor Chaudhry Mohammad Sarwar, to invite suggestions regarding preparations for the 550th birth anniversary celebrations of the Sikhism founder Baba Guru Nanak Dev Ji in November this year.

Hundreds of Sikh devotees from across the world are attending the convention.

Dr Firdous said: “Let’s eliminate forces of hatred and intolerance from the world, may they be genocide of Sikhs in Golden Temple, persecution of Muslims in Kashmir, brutality in Palestine or other parts of the world.”

Reminding Sikhs of Baba Guru Nanak’s teachings of equality, human dignity and opposition to cruelty, she urged them to become the voice of oppressed Kashmiri people.

About freedom of religion and rights to minorities in Pakistan, she said today was an important era where the world was moving towards interfaith harmony.

Prime Minister Imran Khan had made minorities’ rights an integral part of interfaith harmony in the New Pakistan, she added.

Dr Firdous said the prime minister’s decision to build the Kartarpur Corridor was indicative of his enlightened vision regarding minorities’ rights and religious freedom in the country. Being a devout follower of Prophet Mohammad (Peace Be Upon Him), Imran Khan wished to make Pakistan (a welfare state) on the pattern of State of Madinah, she added.

She urged the Sikh delegates to project a positive image of Pakistan once they returned to their homelands in Europe, the United States and other countries.

She said Baba Guru Nanak Dev Ji preached humanism, equality, non-violence and an end to extremist approach.

Earlier, the special assistant welcomed the visiting Sikh delegates to Pakistan, which was a home to shrines of Sikhs, including the birthplace of Baba Guru Nanak Dev Ji.

Federal Minister for Religious Affairs and Interfaith Harmony Pir Noorul Haq Qadri, provincial ministers Yasir Humayun Sarfraz and Ijaz Alam Augustine, members of the provincial assembly, and a large number of Sikh pilgrims from across the world attended the convention, which was presided over by Governor Chaudhry Mohammad Sarwar.

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