Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani. - AFP File Photo

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani on Tuesday said the government was committed to the welfare of minorities and took a number of practical steps in this regard.

Addressing a function organised by All Pakistan Minorities Alliance on first death anniversary of Shahbaz Bhatti here at Convention Centre, the prime minister said reservation of four seats for minorities in Senate and reservation of 5 per cent quota in government jobs for them are some of the achievements of the government to ensure equal rights to the minorities.

He said late Shahbaz Bhatti contributed a lot for the cause and rights of his people and his struggle for his people is memorable.

The premier said it was also the contribution of Bhatti to declare 11th August, as Minority Day and the government decided to celebrate religious functions at official level.

He said prayer rooms have been established in all prisons of Pakistan and vernacular name of Christians was changed from Essahi to Masihi on the suggestion of Bhatti.

Gilani said people have hopes from democracy adding “I also believe that with the message of interfaith harmony going across, we will be able to eliminate the impact of extremism successfully and emerge as a stronger and prosperous nation.”

Referring to the role of religious scholars, the prime minister said, “I must appreciate the role of the scholars of different faiths who have consistently professed and practiced the ideals of integrity and harmony within the country.”

He said the founder of Pakistan Muhammad Ali Jinnah, in his first speech to the Constituent Assembly, on 11th August, 1947 had issued the first charter for rights of minorities and the present government was following it in true spirit.

The prime minister said today, the country is at a juncture where it is confronted with multi-dimensional threats of terrorism, extremism, and intolerance.

He said there is an urgent need to remove distrust and misunderstandings among the followers of different religions for fostering greater understanding, tolerance and respect for all.

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