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Sikh News Pakistan Govt Announces Relief Package For Displaced Sikhs


Jun 1, 2004
ISLAMABAD: Federal Minister for Minorities Affairs Shahbaz Bhatti has reiterated that the government will ensure the safety of minorities in the country, APP reports.

‘The present government believes in the principles of tolerance, human equality and peaceful co-existence,’ the minister said.

He was addressing a press conference regarding non-Muslim displaced families in the wake of recent disturbances in Swat, Buner and Orakzai Agency.

Earlier, he visited Gurdwara Punja Sahab, Hassan Abdal, where 128 Sikh families have taken refuge after violence in the aforementioned areas.

He was of the view that nobody has right to alter the state system in contradiction to Quaid-e-Azam’s vision.

The minister emphasized on religion-social harmony in the country that was what the father of the nation mentioned in his very first speech in the First Constituent Assembly of Pakistan.

He condemned the demand of Jizia (tax) by local Taliban and said that the minorities in Pakistan are not conquered communities rather they are sons of the soil and the government will not allow any faction of society to trample the constitutional rights of the minorities.

‘The concept of Jizia is (in) blatant violation of the law of the land as Article 20 of the Constitution of Islamic Republic of Pakistan protect the right to profess and practice the religion for every citizen of the country without any discrimination,’ he added.

The minister also announced a relief package for non-Muslim families who have been dislocated due to recent disturbance in Swat, Buner and Orakzai Agency.

These families have been housed in Gurdwara Punja Sahib, Hassan Abdal and Gurdwara Bhai Joga Singh, Peshawar.

The package covers residence, provision of food items, medical and educational facilities and emergency financial assistance of Rs10,000 for each family.

The Federal Minister also declared that the government will ensure their rehabilitation in their respective areas as and when the situation improves.

He also constituted a committee of Ministry’s officers to look after the problems of these refugees.

The Minister informed that he has already written letter to Governor and Chief Minister of the concerned province for protection of minorities in the prevailing situation.

Ministry of Minorities is doing its best to help out the non-Muslim families who have become the victims of militancy in these areas, he said.

‘The Ministry has its special budget for upkeep and renovation of their religious places and to facilitate the Yatrees to the major Gurdwaras in Pakistan,’ he said.

A plan of establishing Baba Guru Nanak University at Nankana Sahib is also under consideration while religious festivals of the Sikh community are celebrated with great zeal, Bhatti said. Gurdwara Panja Sahib.


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