KARACHI - Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on Tuesday maintained that forcible conversion and destruction of worship places of other religions is a crime in Islam.
Speaking at a function organised at a local hotel on the occasion of Holi, the spring festival celebrated by the Hindu community, in Karachi, the prime minister said, “Pakistan was not made to give dominance to any religion over others. Religion does not force anyone to do anything, let alone forcing anyone to adopt a certain religion.”
Delivering a progressive and inclusive message to minorities in the country, he said, “No one can force other to adopt a certain religion.”
“No matter what religion or beliefs you follow, or what part of the country you belong to, you must be provided equal access to progress and development,” Nawaz said. “We need to think how we can make religious diversity our strength.”
The PM said that some elements tried to weaken Pakistan by creating religious discord, although the attempts proved futile.
He said the government would ensure complete freedom for all the religious minorities and if required further legislation would be enacted with stringent enforcement of laws for their rights and protection.
He said Pakistan was created on the basis of equal rights to all communities with complete religious freedom.
Nawaz vowed that attempts to create provincial prejudices or bias would not be given room and hinder the path of religious tolerance and unity.
“As a nation we share the common woes and joys. We are one,” he declared.
He said if there was any contention in Karachi that was between the forces of peace and conflict. “People are free to go to their places of worship,” he said.
On this occasion, Nawaz announced Rs500 million for the welfare of minorities.
Later, chairing a meeting of district representatives of PML-N at Governor House, Nawaz said that due to the efforts of present regime, peace had been restored in Karachi and it had regained its title of the ‘city of lights’.
He said peace in Karachi was not only imperative for the development of this city, but it was also necessary for the development of Sindh and the whole country.
Sharif said his party would contest next elections with full preparation in Sindh and directed the party cadres to be prepared for electoral campaign for elections 2018.
“We are cognisant of the problems faced by the people of Karachi including water supply and urban transportation. Therefore, our government presented K-4 Water Supply Project, Karachi Circular Railway, Green Line Mass Transit Project and the Lyari Expressway as gift for the people of Karachi,” stated the PM.
The prime minister said that PML-N had always worked for uplifting the status of masses and had always upheld democratic principles and urged the PML-N representatives to work hard for resolving the issues faced by the people.
He expressed concern over the garbage-strewn streets of the metropolis and observed that if development in the city would remain at the same pace as it was in the 70s, Pakistan would have flourished.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Sharif met with leading businessmen at Governor House in the evening.
He said, “When our government took office in 2013, we were faced with problems including terrorism, economic decline and energy shortages. However, our government took it as a challenge and worked tirelessly to overcome these problems. Today, by the grace of Almighty Allah and hard work of our government, Pakistan is on the path of prosperity and development.”
Referring to the law and order situation in Karachi, the premier said, “Law and order situation has significantly improved and business activities have returned to normal in Karachi. Rule of law enforcing agencies is highly appreciable.”
Sharif said that economic progress of Pakistan had been acknowledged globally by international financial rating agencies. “Pakistan is now termed an attractive destination for business and investment,” added the PM.
Sharif maintained that as a result of investor-friendly policies of the present government and the economic turnaround achieved in the last four years, various reputable international investors and companies had shown keen interest in exploring business and investment opportunities in Pakistan.
The premier said that Pakistan had now achieved macro-economic stability and was focusing on achieving higher, sustainable and inclusive growth. GDP was recorded at 4.7 percent in financial year 2016, which was highest in last eight years, said the PM.
He further said that CPEC with its wide portfolio of projects in energy, roads networks, railways and many other sectors, offered huge opportunities of investment and employment.
“We are also improving energy mix to ensure availability of clean and affordable energy to the masses.”
Referring to investment policies, the prime minister said that Pakistan had improved its ranking by 4 points on the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business (EODB) Index. “We have identified potential sites along CPEC routes for establishment of special economic zones that would offer tremendous business opportunities.”
Sharif stated that the government had introduced new Automotive Development Policy that focuses on enhancing competitiveness and provision of quality products.
The meeting was also attended by Governor Sindh Muhammad Zubair, Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah, Federal Minister for Planning Ahsan Iqbal, Federal Minister for Railways Khawaja Saad Rafiq, Chairman Board of Investment Mifta Ismail, parliamentarians and senior officials.