To protect the minorities in Pakistan, a project Faith Matters has been launched with the help of the British Pakistani community. The purpose of this project is to engage civil society and other organizations to start a dialog on the issues which have impact on the country.
The project ‘Connecting Communities’ will mobilize the diaspora community in order to re-enforce the need for minority rights in Pakistan, particularly after recent attacks on the Shia Hazara as well as Ahmaddiya and Christian communities.
The members of the diaspora community play leading roles in civil society organizations in the United Kingdom, particularly around race and faith equality issues. It is this expertise and social action that the Connecting Communities project will mobilize to ensure that the issue of equality rights in Pakistan is placed front and center of the social agenda in the country.
One of the objectives of the project is that it should take such steps which would help eliminate terrorism, protect the rights the minorities and eliminate inequalities in the society.
Speaking about the launch, the Rt Rev Dr Rowan Williams said: “I am very glad to be taking part in today’s Connecting Communities event. At a moment when so many are determined to push communities further apart in suspicion and recrimination, this meeting is a clear affirmation of hope – and, please God, an encouragement to all who take risks for the sake of understanding and reconciliation here and throughout the world, and all who resolutely defend the civil liberties and human dignity of minorities of all sorts.”
The Director of Faith Matters, Fiyaz Mughal, stated that: “It is absolutely essential that the diaspora community of Pakistani heritage stand up and promote equal rights in Pakistan at a time when minority groups feel real fear. Recent killings in Peshawar and other parts of the country murder Muslims and Christians and develop a sense of deep-rooted anger and animosity and this is what the killers want.
The diaspora community of Pakistani heritage can make a real difference by campaigning for equal rights in the country.”
The Shadow Justice Secretary Sadiq Khan MP said that Muslims should not forget that in the early days of Islam when Qureish persecuted them, then a Christian king in Abyssinia gave them refuge. The constitution of Pakistan has special provisions concerning the rights of minorities. ‘Even Jinnah emphasized the need for a secular state and freedom of religion.’
He condemned the attacks on the Church in Peshawar and said that militants are using the name of Islam to target religious places.
In charge of the project Reverend Rana Youab Khan said that one million Pakistanis and Kashmiris live in the UK. They can help clarifying the misunderstandings. Due to radicalization, it has become difficult for minorities to live in Pakistan. Christians, Ahmadis and Shiite communities are especially targeted. The Christians are not viewed as Pakistanis and their loyalty to their motherland is questioned. There is need that the Pakistani community living in the UK should raise their voice. He said that all religions of the world preach coexistence. It is saddening that the actions of few extremists fetch shame to the whole community and bring bad name to the religion.
He added that under this project, the Muslims and Christians from the eight different regions of the UK would discuss the issue on different platforms.
CEO of the Victim Support, Javed Khan said that we will have to communicate to Pakistanis through our experience that the minorities should be protected. If tolerance, patience and peaceful coexistence can be the characteristics of British society then these can be part of Pakistani society as well. He said that this project would help bringing the communities together by clarifying the misunderstandings.
Cllr Tafeen Shariq elaborated that how the Muslims are the active part of social and political affairs in the UK. He said that together, the people have failed the right wing fascist parties. Same can be done in Pakistan to defeat the forces who want to create of an atmosphere of insecurity and fear.
The participants of the event regarded it as a model project which can play its part to resolve the conflicts around the world.