WASHINGTON: Federal Minister of Religious Affairs and Interfaith Harmony Sardar Muhammad Yousaf has said that the PML-N government is taking all steps to ensure interfaith harmony and all minorities are enjoying full rights in Pakistan.
In an interview with APP here on Sunday, Sardar Yousaf said that any assertion that minorities are not enjoying rights in Pakistan was a mere propaganda and added that those making such allegations should look at Pakistan's neighbor India where minorities are facing worst kind of repression.
The Minister referred to the plight of Muslims in India and said they have been killed on mere suspicious of eating cow's meat. Here in Pakistan, the Minister said, the government has officially declared 10 holidays for minorities, including Hindus, Buddhist and Christian, to celebrate their holy festivals.
Sardar Yousaf said that some people had forcibly seized the possession of Hindu mandirs in the KPK province, but the government not only vacated the illegal possession but also provided money for its renovation.
He said that the government attaches high priority to the minorities' rights which is also evident from the fact that the Ministry of Interfaith Harmony and the Religious Affairs had been merged. The Minister said that the government had invited some 26 people in 2016 from different faiths to promote harmony among different religions.
Responding to a question, the Minister said that government has made efforts to ensure transparency in facilitating and processing Haj applications and the number of those applying has increased enormously.
He pointed out that when the PML-N government took over in 2013, there were 5,000 less applications against the quota of approx. 57,000 as corruption during the previous regime prevented people from applying for Haj. Now, there are more than 100,000 Haj applications which reflected peoples' confidence in government's haj reforms.
The Minister said that there was no quota for VIP and all those applying were being treated equally. Any VIP who wants to perform Haj can do so privately and the government also facilitates them, he added.
Responding to another question, the Minister said that as many as 36,000 Madrasas have been registered, but there were still thousands others unregistered and the government was making effort to register them.
The Minister also stated that the government is taking all steps to ensure and promote sectarian harmony, and added that every sect is free to practice their religious beliefs.