Lahore: August 18, 2017. (PCP) National Commission for Interreligious Dialogue and Ecumenism (Catholic Bishops’ Conference Pakistan) organized an Interfaith Youth Conference in connection with the Independence Day 2017 in Lahore. The theme of this event of national integrity was “The Role of Christians in creation of Pakistan”
His Grace Archbishop Sebastian Francis Shaw OFM (Chairman NCIDE) was the President of the ceremony whereas Dr. Saad S. Khan (joint Secretary National School of Public Policy) was the chief guest of this ceremony. The ceremony was organized under the directives of Fr. Francis Nadeem OFM Cap, Executive Secretary, NCIDE. Fr. Inayat Bernard was the main speaker of the day.
The Programme began with the National Anthem of Pakistan. Fr. Adnan Kashif presented an introduction of the program and gave a brief idea of the objectives of NCIDE.
In the key note address Fr. Inayat Bernard talked about the role of Christians in building and progress of the country. He said that from 23rd March 1940 the Christians were present with the founder M.A. Jinnah at Minto Park (Greater Iqbal Park now) and assured their cooperation for creation of the country which would later be called Pakistan.
He said that important political leaders S.P.Singha, C.E.Gibbon and Fazal Ilahi used their decisive vote in favor of creation of Pakistan. Renowned advocate Chaudhry Chandu Lal showed the cooperation from All India Christian Association. Later on the 3rdJune 1947 three members of the Punjab Assembly voted in favor of Pakistan. At Dhobi Ghat Faisalabad the Christians gathered from all of India stood shoulder to shoulder with the Quaid-e-Azam.
He continued that it was the recognition from the founder to include the white portion in the Pakistan flag which was 25% that time. Now it is confined to around 5% for all minorities in the country according to the old senses. He said that on the 11thAugust,1947 in his first speech in the Constituent Assembly the founder assured the religious freedom and safety of all minorities including largest minority Christians.
During the ceremony, the Children and youth presented national songs including Ehsan Ashraf, Lahore Cantt youth and Gulberg youth.
In his message, His Grace Archbishop Sebastian Francis Shaw OFM congratulated all the participants on this special day. He encouraged the young people to be proactive and accept the positive values of every religion rather being negative. In spite of indifferences, we must go on the way of harmony and solidarity.
The Chief Guest Dr. S. Saad Khan (joint Secretary National School of Public Policy) appreciated and encouraged the sacrifices and the role of the Christian community for Pakistan. He saluted the service of Pakistani Christian role.
He also said that there should be no concept of majority and minority. All are citizens of Pakistan and this Pakistan which Quaid-e-Azam gave us, was beyond religions. All Muslim, Christian, and other religions struggled to get the freedom. Even these sacrifices, services of the Christians must be Part of the syllabus for the schools and colleges. Participation is decreasing day by day. We are living in a democratic Country.
The students from the universities also expressed their happiness and cited the contribution of the Christian Institutions in the progress of Pakistan. They promised to be vigilant against the social evils and work hard for the betterment of our beloved homeland.
Thanking all the guests and the Youth, Fr. Francis Nadeem said, “We are all celebrating Independence Day of our country with a national spirit and zeal. He quoted the sayings of the Father of our nation Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah “Every citizen of this country has a right to follow his/her religion without any fear”. We should live with peace and let others live in peace as well to let the vision of Quaid-e-Azam be fulfilled in its true meanings
He encouraged the young students of different universities that they are going to be the future leaders of the nation, they must be peace loving and peace builders so that the generations to come will live in peace and harmony under the shadow of the trees sown by them.
At the end of the ceremony all the participants sang along the national song while waving the flags of Pakistan in their hands.
Among the guests of honour on this occasion were Fr. Patrick Samuel, Fr. Jahanzeb, , Fr. Adnan Kashif, Fr. Francis Sabir , Fr. Henry Paul, Hafiz Mufti Syed Ashiq Hussain, , Pandit Bhagat Lal and Dr. Badar Munir, were prominent among the guests. The programme was attended by a good number of students from different Universities of Lahore; Punjab University, The Education University, National College for Business Administration, Minhaj ul Quran University and Sheikh
Zaid Islamic center. The youth groups are from Capuchin Youth from Kot Lakhpat, Lahore Cantt and Gulberg were also present.
The following resolution was unanimously passed.
01.We the participants of the interfaith youth conference recommended to include the interfaith harmony chapter in the syllabuses in the schools, colleges, universities and the madrisas. We hope that it will have an effect to crate zeal of love and peace among students and shun hatred which prevails at this time in our society.
02.All the religious leaders and scholars appealed to preach from their pulpit the value of peace and tolerance so that the prejudices and intolerances will go way from the hearts and minds of the citizens of the country.
03.The government institutions are urged to give proper respect and honor to the Non-Muslim national heroes who have and are serving in different fields of life.
04.All the parents are requested to stress on their children to lead their life of peace, tolerance and respect of one another.
05.All the participants of the conference are also promising to continue our struggle for the peace and tolerance in society so that the intolerance and non-acceptance in our society might be over and all of us will work hand in hand to make our country a cradle of peace.