PCNP Chief Joseph Francis announces to run for presidential elections. Written by Jawad Mazhar (ROD)
14 Aug 2007
LAHORE, PAKISTAN (ROD): The Chief of Pakistan Christian National Party (PCNP), Joseph Francis sticks to his guns on running for next presidential polls in Pakistan as he reiterated it while addressing a minority meeting on August 11.
Some time back Francis had made the announcement that he would run for the Presidential polls despite the fact that the country's constitution bars members of religious minorities from assuming the office of presidency.
Francis said he would challenge the article 41 in the Supreme Court, which holds back minority candidates from running presidential elections. Francis also demanded equal rights for the minorities' communities of Pakistan.
PCNP observed 'Minority Day' on August 11, 2007 at Nasir Bagh, Lahore. A large number of people from different minorities' communities assembled at Nasir Bagh to demand equal rights.
Addressing the rally Francis demanded equal rights for the Christians of Pakistan. He said that Pakistan could not have come in to being without the decisive vote of Christians in the favour of Pakistan. He regretted that Christians and all other religious minorities in Pakistan are facing discrimination. He added that Mullahs (Muslim clerics) are transforming Pakistan into a terrorist state.
PCNP chief Joseph Francis emphasized on the need for unity in the ranks of Christians. He said that PCNP is the sole platform for the 20 million Christians of Pakistan. PCNP will continue its struggle to achieve equal rights for the Christians of Pakistan, he remarked.
The human rights campaigner and Chief of PCNP appealed to the Christian Youth to wake up from slumber and forge unity in their ranks.
He said that we will not beg for our rights, we will rather have to snatch our rights. Referring to the Christian theme of Unity in the Body of Christ Francis said if one part of the body felt pain the entire body feels its pain.
Pointing to the discrimination minorities communities are facing under President General Pervez Musharraf's regime he said that 185 cases against different minority members had been registered under Blasphemy Laws, 38 churches have been set ablaze and 162 Christians were killed during Musharaf's reign.
He criticised President Musharaf for making a statement in an interview to Pakistan Geo TV Channel in which he quoted Musharraf as telling the TV Channel's Anchor Kamran Khan that Pakistan former Coach Bob Woolmer would have ascended to heavens if he were a Muslim.
Francis said that Gen Musharaf has insulted minorities of Pakistan by making the statement. Francis added that General Pervaiz Musharaf is an employee of grade 22 of government of Pakistan and blasted him for sticking to the twin offices of presidency and chief of army staff.
He said the founding father of Pakistan, Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah had pledged giving royalty to Christians. He said that all the other minorities had been given land as promised by the Father of the Nation, except Christians. He insisted that government should fulfil the promise made by the Founder of Pakistan by giving them the royalty pledged by Jinnah.
In his address to the rally Francis said that government claims that minorities of Pakistan are enjoying equal rights in Pakistan. If an individual from minority's communities can't appear in the Shariat court as lawyer or Judge, how come government claims that minorities are enjoying equality in Pakistan, he questioned.
Joseph Francis said that PCNP and Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) see eye to eye with on all issues. He hailed late Bhutto for ordering release of the Christian men who he said had been jailed after being falsely accused of spying.
Francis said that only PPP can establish a democratic government in Pakistan. He also said that Pakistan Muslim league has always deceived Christians of Pakistan.
Flaying discriminatory laws of the country including Pakistan's controversial blasphemy laws he called for their repeal.
He urged Christians to vote for those political parties who would pledge repeal of all discriminatory laws.
Hundreds of minority men and women from all walks of life turned up at the PCNP meeting at Nasir Bagh Lahore to observe the 'Minority day'. A great enthusiasm was observed among the participants of the rally.
Bishop of Raiwind Diocese His Grace Samuel Robert Azaraiah, Sayed Ghayor Hussain, Uzma Bukhari (Secretary General Women wing PPP) and Suhail Johnson (SLPM) also addressed the rally.
Talking to ROD fact finding team Chief of Rays of development Organization Mr Ferhan Mazher said that this is the first time that the minorities of Pakistan have come together to observe the 'Minority Day' in Pakistan. Mazher said that minorities should forge unity in their ranks if they want to get their equal rights. He also said that such rallies would pave the way for getting the discriminatory laws including country's blasphemy laws repealed.