Protesters hold up placards while demanding the release of Asia Bibi, a Pakistani Christian woman who has been sentenced to death for blasphemy, at a rally in Lahore, November 21, 2010. – Reuters

ISLAMABAD: Minister of State for National Harmony Akram Masih Gill on Thursday said a minorities' protection bill would soon be tabled in the National Assembly to introduce Marriage Registration Act for Sikh, Hindu, Parsi and Bahai communities in the country.

He expressed these views while talking to Australian High Commissioner Tim George who called on him here to discuss national harmony and minorities’ issues in Pakistan. Fiona Hamilton, Second Secretary Political of Australian High Commission, was also present on the occasion.

The minister hailed the interest of the Australian government for the welfare of minorities in Pakistan and government policy towards national harmony, adding, that the “government of Pakistan is committed to the uplift of minorities socially by economic empowerment and removing discriminatory actions against non-Muslims”.

Mr Gill said interfaith harmony was the top priority of the government which wanted to promote friendly relations between the country’s Muslims and non-Muslims. He said interfaith harmony committees were being re-activated at district levels for the purpose.

He sought the help of the Australian government to provide clean drinking water to minority populated areas and to establish skill training centres in order to empower them economically.

The Australian ambassador said scholarships would also be ensured for students from religious minorities.

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