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Living Together with Diversity: Inter faith and Inter cultural Dialogue: Dr Paul Jacob Bhatti

Honorable Prime Minister of Pakistan, Mr Raja Pervaiz Ashraf, Federal Ministers, State Ministers, Excellencies, Ulemas, Parliamentarians, Senators, distinguished ladies and gentleman, on behalf of the Ministry of National Harmony, it is my great honor to express my sincere thanks to all of you for being with us today to participate in this significant and meaningful National Interfaith and Intercultural Dialogue Conference entitled “Living Together with Diversity.”
Ladies and gentleman, our Ministry of National Harmony, was established recently with the prime objective to promote interfaith dialogue and relationship among people of diverse faith traditions and cultures, as a means towards creating a peaceful harmonious coexistence in our nation.
We do realize that we are passing through a very delicate and difficult phase in our country, where terrorism, sectarian violence, extremism and discrimination has hit the maximum peak of our history. As a result, we have paid a terrible price loosing thousands of precious innocent lives.
These forces of violence have robbed us as a nation of our full potential, creating instability and a decline in our e
conomy. Internationally, we are often being treated with suspicion and in the minds of some considered a risk and at its worst as a terrorist. Several Pakistanis, living abroad express facing allot of embarrassment and obstacles in their careers. Everyday we are faced with the cruel harsh realities with the sacrifices of innocent lives due to forces of violence and intolerance that continues to be nourished by poverty and illiteracy.
Sadly, there are specific mindsets that have divided our nation creating hate, intolerance, and discrimination between all sects of life.
It is clearly anti-religious, anti-Islamic, anti-human, and against what was envisioned by our Founding Father Quaid-e. Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah, who dreamed to see a country like Pakistan where people of all faith traditions could live peacefully together without discrimination and fear.
The urgency of the hour, requires that we move forward standing together as a diverse community, against this mindset, which has for too long weakened our society and stripped us as a Nation of our full potential to flourish and grow.
Our commitment must be to meet any challenge and to develop ways to resolve disputes with peace. This situation demands careful thoughts, steady nerves resolute action not only for now but for the years to come. It demands the participation of all those who rely and are concerned with global peace and stability. Meeting these challenges will take diplomatic and political wisdom and maybe more sacrifices will have to be made. We must call on the best that is in us to preserve the security of this crucial region. Our deep commitment to have basic human rights and meeting human needs will require collective efforts.
The truth of the matter is that our country Pakistan is a land of opportunity, it is a land of peace, a land of resources. I am proud to say that this is the genesis of all civilizations, a Holy land with the fact that all traditions, cultures, great religions of the world have, their deep roots in our soil.
We know that the seeds of our diverse cultures, traditions and religions, are nourished in the soil of love, peace, equality and justice for all humanity. Therefore, it is very clear that our cultural traditions and religious beliefs are challenged by forces of violence and evil and we all must overcome by our united struggle sending and living this strong message from this platform today that there is no space for discrimination, hatred, violence in our society.
It is with this in mind, I would like to acknowledge with high appreciation and applaud our Ulumas/Religious leaders, who have been faithful in giving and living this message of unity, love and peace condemning, every act of violence in this country.
To our friends in the media, who bring the truth to the public domain, daily often at risk of their own lives, when they report injustices and inequality against victims of these forces of violence and promoting peace.
To all of the law enforcing agencies, that continue to put their lives on the line every day protecting all of us facilitating justice in our land.
To our politicians; especially our Great leaders, who laid down their lives promoting democracy, equality and unity.
Lastly, my thanks and appreciation to the International communities, who have condemned all forces of evil and supported us in our fight against our enemies of poverty, illiteracy, violence and intolerance.
These efforts should be expressed unanimously by all of us by peaceful means using our weapon of “unity with diversity.” It is only together, we can eradicate every kind of discrimination, hate and intolerance from this country.
To achieve our goal it is fundamental to not only talk but to establish concrete steps and roadmaps to fight against all these enemies of humanity. We believe that there are no irreconcilable differences between us and any other religious tradition. We must respect the faith of each other and be ready to co-operate with all our nationals.
This conference today is not just an event but a call to action. As a Ministry, we request our Ulamas/Religious leaders, scholars and representatives of different religious traditions to give us concrete proposals to overcome the forces of hate, discrimination and intolerance.
I am quite confident that our message today will have a ripple effect both nationally and internationally that our Nation Pakistan, is standing against any force dividing us in the name of religion and any form of discrimination between race, gender or creed.
I conclude recalling one of our national songs; based in the ideology of our Founding Father, which says:
“keep closed these doors of hatred, violence and discrimination, holding and keeping up our green and white flag.”
The Pakistan flag represents our true identity as a people. “Unity with diversity,” because this is the only way forward to bring peace.

21 February 2013

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