Karachi: Pakistan’s PM Nawaz Sharif became the first head of the government to attend a Diwali function, organised by Hindus in Karachi on Wednesday.
Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) chief Imran Khan speaking on Thursday at a public gathering organised by the party to celebrate Diwali in Umerkot, pledged to protect Pakistani Hindus in the country and said they will not be left alone like Muslims marginalised by Shiv Sena in India.
“Under a PTI government, a new Pakistan will emerge where police will not be used to harass anyone, justice will prevail and equal rights of provinces will be ensured,” Imran reportedly said.
Similar words were echoed by Nawaz Sharif, who called for all Muslims to accept Hindus, Sikhs, Christians, Parsis and other minorities living in the country as equals and pointed out that they had all participated in the building of Pakistan.
The prime minister also called on the Hindu community to invite him more to their festivals and urged all to take part and attend such occasions as it propagates unity.
An editorial “Embracing diversity” in the News International suggested that the speech “goes far beyond a simple address on a holy occasion”.
“For one it acts to mainstream minority groups in the country and draw them into the social fabric of a divided nation.”
The editorial from News International went on to say that the next logical step from this point would be to ensure that those who commit crimes against minority groups are penalised under the law for their offences. “The fact that they have in the past too often escaped scot-free can only encourage such atrocities. In the name of religion, villages have been burnt, people beaten to death and women abducted.”
While welcoming his message, the daily observed that in Pakistan, “to succeed, PM Nawaz will need to go beyond attending functions or sharing in ceremonies”.