Paksitani President promises support to Christian minority: CEN 9.25.09 p 8. September 29, 2009Posted by geoconger in Archbishop of Canterbury, Church of England Newspaper, Church of Pakistan.
|First published in The Church of England Newspaper.
President Asif Ali Zardari has promised the Archbishop of Canterbury and the former Bishop of Rochester that his government will crack down on those who abuse Pakistan’s blasphemy laws to persecute Christians.
Meeting on Sept 18 at the Churchill Hyatt Regency Hotel in London, President Zardari said his government was aware of the misuse of the blasphemy laws to persecute Christians, and promised Dr Rowan Williams and Dr Michael Nazir-Ali that those responsible for the Gojra massacre would be brought to justice.
Presidential spokesman Farhatullah Babar told reporters the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) government was committed to interfaith harmony. The security and liberty of all Pakistani citizens, regardless of religion, was a priority for the Zardari government, he said.
On Sept 19 Lambeth Palace released a statement describing the meeting as a “constructive discussion” where all “agreed on the fundamental importance of mutual respect between religions and the responsibility of governments to ensure the safety of all citizens and especially of vulnerable groups.”
Dr Williams spoke of his sadness at the violence that had claimed the lives of so many Pakistani citizens and offered his deep condolences at the murder of Benazir Bhutto, the President’s wife. He said: “I pray that her death will not be in vain and that Pakistan will emerge from the present troubles to take its place as an example of a nation in which all are safe and respected.”
He also urged Pakistan to institute legislative reforms to protect the rights of religious minorities. President Zardari told Dr Williams his government had created a “quota for the minorities in the Government service, Senate, National and Provincial Assembly and appointed a Christian as Minister for Minorities to ensure appropriate representative of minorities,” Lambeth Palace reported.
President Zardari also extended an invitation to Dr Williams to visit Pakistan, and welcomed the work of the Christian Muslim Forum in the UK in addressing sectarian tensions.