KARACHI: Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif addressing a Diwali ceremony held by the Sindh PML-N’s minorities wing.—APP
KARACHI: Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif addressing a Diwali ceremony held by the Sindh PML-N’s minorities wing.—APP

KARACHI: Prime Minis­ter Nawaz Sharif has said that all religious communities living in Pakistan enjoy equal rights and vowed to safeguard them.

Speaking at a ceremony organised by the minority wing of the PML-N’s Sindh chapter to mark the Hindu festival of Diwali at a hotel here on Wednesday, he said: “Every community living here whether Hindu, Muslim or Parsi, everyone belongs to me and I belong to them. I am prime minister of all communities.”

He underlined the need for strengthening unity among all communities and said minorities were part of Pakistan and it was his duty to protect and facilitate them.

“If you are in distress, I will stand by you. Even if a Muslim commits an injustice, I will stand with the victim,” he said, adding that it was the lesson taught by Islam, by his forefathers and by all religions of the world.

The prime minister extended greetings to the Hindu community and said he felt immense pleasure in attending the event. He told the organisers to invite him to all religious events of various communities.

“I want to be among you during Holi, the festival of colours, in which multiple colours are sprayed at each other as a token of love,” he said.

He said that Diwali celebrates humanity’s struggle against forces of evil.

The prime minister said: “We are one nation and forging unity and consensus among them is my mission. Muslims, Hindus, Sikhs, Christians and Parsis are part of the country.”

He announced construction of Bhagat Kunwar Medical Complex in Hyderabad and Guru Nanak Gurdwara in Nankana Sahib.

Mr Sharif praised the message of religious hymns read out at the ceremony and said that it was also his agenda to stand against the tyrant.

He lauded the role played by the Hindu community in the development of the country. “Hindus play a significant role in education, judiciary, health and sports. They have produced great personalities.”

He referred to his family’s background and said the close heart waves among people living together for years never faded away and said: “Let’s jointly pledge that we will protect the minorities.”

Speaking on the occasion, Dr Sham Sundrani said all people living in Pakistan were like a bouquet and minority communities were also part of the country. He said: “Nawaz Sharif is the first prime minister who has joined the Hindu community in celebration of Diwali.”

Kheldas Kohistani thanked the prime minister for his gesture.

Those who attended the function, among others, were Sindh Governor Dr Ishratul Ibad, Chief Minister Qaim Ali Shah, Minister for Minority Affairs Gayan Chand Esrani and Defence Minister Khwaja Asif.

MARITIME EXERCISE: Earlier the prime minister witnessed naval exercises by an array of naval combat platforms in North Arabian Sea as the culminating event of Pakistan Navy’s major maritime exercise – Seaspark 2015.

The event showcased the combat readiness of Pakistan Navy.

The naval forces demonstrated a range of naval warfare operations against traditional and non-traditional threats, including counter-terrorism and anti-piracy drills, live weapons firing and fly past by naval aviation units.

On his arrival on board Pakistan Navy ship Nasr, the prime minister was received by Chief of the Naval Staff Admiral Mohammad Zakaullah.

The Deputy Chief of Naval Staff (Operations) gave a briefing to Mr Sharif on conduct of the exercise and Pakistan Navy’s salient contributions towards maritime sector, coastal development and humanitarian assistance operations.

The Sindh chief minister, the Balochistan governor, the defence minister and senior Navy, Army and Air Force officers graced the event.

Published in Dawn, November 12th, 2015

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