On Wednesday, Special Representative for Religious Harmony Tahir Ashrafi said that religious minorities in Pakistan should not be allowed to carry out terrorism by any individual or group, as the Constitution of Pakistan guarantees their equal rights.
Addressing a national conference for women under the auspices of the Interfaith Harmony Council, he noted that people of all religions have played a role in shaping Pakistan.
The Special Representative erroneously claimed, that no incidents of blasphemy had been reported in Pakistan in the last eight months and vowed that the incoming government would not allow anyone to misuse the blasphemy laws.
As recently as March, a man was killed in Jhang, Punjab, on charges of blasphemy. In May, a similar mob tried to have lynch with a man accused of blasphemy near Islamabad.
At the same time, there has been little let-up in vigilantes to take the law into its own hands on blasphemy charges.
Just last week, a police constable killed a man who had been acquitted of blasphemy allegations.
Alleged cases of forced conversions have also risen dramatically, with activists urging the government to enforce the laws outlawing the practice.
Ashrafi emphasized that Islam does not allow forcible conversions, adding that religious teachings are clear in instructing Muslims to respect the beliefs and sacred figures of all religions.
Referring to past terrorist attacks on churches, the special envoy claimed that it was the students of the madrassa who always arrived at the venue to help in rescue efforts and to donate blood to their Christian brothers.
“We should promote interfaith harmony by arranging frequent get-togethers of believers of all religions” he said, praising the goodwill gestures of Palestinian Christians during the Israeli attacks.
He said Palestinian Christians had even opened the doors of their churches to Muslims and offered them protection when Israeli aggression reached its peak during Ramadan earlier this year.
Ashrafi also sought to dispel the perception that women were being mistreated because of religious precepts.
He said “Islam was the first religion to provide unprecedented rights to women”, adding that “it stresses the protection of rights of wives and daughters.”
He also said that; “The holy Quran provided inheritance rights to daughters and Islam permitted women to do business.”
Referring to the verses of the Holy Quran, he said, “the murder of even one human being was tantamount to the killing of all of mankind, while saving the life of one person was akin to saving the lives of whole of mankind.”
He also commented on the ongoing peace process in Afghanistan, stressing that Islamabad wanted peace and tranquility in the neighboring state, and never allows the use of its territory against any country.