Directorate of Interfaith Relations of Minhaj-ul-Quran International and Pakistan
Minority Council jointly organized a prestigious but simple Independence Day ceremony
to mark the Minorities Day on August 11 at the Gurdwara Dera Sahib of the Sikh community.
It was the first occasion when the Independence Day ceremony was held in the worship
place of the Sikh community in Pakistan. Syed Asif Hashmi, chairman of Evacuee Trust
Board (Government of Pakistan), was the guest of honour, while attendance included
the leading representatives of all the leading communities across Pakistan in addition
to central leaders of Minhaj-ul-Quran International.
Former provincial minister Rana Ijaz Ahmad Khan, Pir Syed Fazal Shah, Zahid Hussain
Bokhari, Syed Faraz Abbas, Sardar Singh (chairman of Pakistan Minority Council),
Sardar Sham Singh, Dr Munwar Chand, Noshair F Dastoor, Dr Yousuf and Revered Chaman
Sardar were also among the distinguished audience.
The formal proceedings of the programme got underway with the recitation from
the Quran and the Books of all religions.. Sardar Giyani Ranjeet Singh, Pundit Baghat
Lal, Bishop Akbar Khokar and Hafiz Muhammad Tahir Baghdai recited from the Sikh,
Hindue, Christian, and Islamic Books respectively. Allama Tahir Baghdadi recited
the Sura Fataha and also read out its Urdu translation.
Sohail Ahmad Raza, Director of the Interfaith Relations of MQI, presented the
welcome address. He said that it was for the first time in the country’s history
that the Independence Day ceremony was organized in the worship place of Sikh community
in Pakistan. The participation of all communities in the ceremony on the invitation
of MQI’s Directorate of Interfaith Relations, he added, was a reflection of harmonious
interfaith relations among all the leading religions and faiths. He said that gathering
also represented the practical portrayal of Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah’s vision
for a country where all minorities could live peacefully along with the Muslims
with a spirit of harmony and mutual coexistence, as equal citizens of the state.
Sohail Ahmad Raza said that Minhaj-ul-Quran International believes in interfaith
harmony and dialogue and is engaged in efforts for human development, promotion
of peace and integration at global level. He said that Shaykh-ul-Islam Dr Muhammad
Tahir-ul-Qadri has played a historical role in building bridges and felling walls
amongst different faiths and religions in a country where such initiatives have
been very rare. He also thanked Syed Asif Hasmi, the chief guest, for his participation
in the programme.
Speakers in their speeches appreciated Minhaj-ul-Quran International and Pakistan
Minority Council on this timely interfaith moot and expressed the hope that such
interactions would continue in future. They said that there was greater need of
interfaith dialogue and demonstration of tolerance given the peculiar circumstances
obtaining in the world today. They said that many misconceptions are found in the
world about Pakistan regarding the ill-treatment meted out to minorities but hastened
to add that such events would help erase such erroneous notions. They also hoped
that such programmes would also be held at the official level so that negative propaganda
about Pakistan could be countered with action proactively. They were unanimous in
their opinion that such a step would go a long way in improving the image of the
country in the outside world.
At the end of the programme, all participants joined in to sing the national
anthem of Pakistan and waved national flag as a mark of their love for the country.
The programme ended on special prayers for the country’s progress and early rehabilitation
of the flood affectees.