Interfaith harmony vital for national unity Pakistan the safest country for minorities in the world

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Noor-ul-Haq Qadri is Federal Minister for Religious Affairs and Inter-Faith Harmony, in office since 20 August 2018. He has been a member of the National Assembly since August 2018. Previously he was a member of the National Assembly from 2002 to 2013. On 18 August, Prime Minister Imran Khan formally announced his federal cabinet structure and Qadri was named as Minister for Religious Affairs and Interfaith Harmony. On 20 August 2018, he was sworn in as Federal Minister for Religious Affairs and Inter-faith Harmony in the federal cabinet of Prime Minister Imran Khan.

He has a strong political career as he was elected to the National Assembly of Pakistan from Constituency NA-45 (Tribal Area-X) as an independent candidate in Pakistani general election, 2002. He was re-elected to the National Assembly from Constituency NA-45 (Tribal Area-X) as an independent candidate in Pakistani general election, 2008.

He ran for the seat of the National Assembly from Constituency NA-45 (Tribal Area-X) as an independent candidate in Pakistani general election, 2013 but was unsuccessful and lost the seat to Alhaj Shah Jee Gul Afridi. He joined Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) in November 2017 and was re-elected to the National Assembly as a candidate of PTI from Constituency NA-43 (Tribal Area-IV) in Pakistani general election, 2018.

After taking charge of his office, he has been very active in the execution of his professional duties and now he is considered to be one of the ministers with very good performance. Due to his hard work, he is very much liked by the Prime Minister Imran Khan and Prime Minister has expressed such sentiments about him on a number of occasions publicly. Noor-ul-Haq Qadri graced a request moved by the Melange, International Magazine for an exclusive interview. Some of extracts of the interview is given below for the interest of our worthy readers.

Q: Kindly let us know about Ministry of Religious Affairs?

Ans: The basic aim of ministry is to harmonize and unite the people of diverse religions and school of thoughts, condemns every sort of extremism and violence. The Ministry of Religious Affairs is responsible for the pilgrimage beyond Pakistan, Muslims pilgrims visits to India for Ziarat and Saudi Arabia for Umra & Hajj. It is also responsible for the welfare and safety of Pilgrims and Zaireen. The main activities also include research based Islamic studies, holding of conferences, seminars, training education of Ulma and Khateebs, exchange of visits of scholars of Islamic learning with the liaison amongst foreign and international institutions.

Q: How interfaith harmony can be propagated among the masses?
Ans: Pakistan can be made strong and prosperous only through unity and brotherhood; all religions and sects should stand together to foil the nefarious designs of enemies. Interfaith harmony is need of the hour to foil nefarious designs of the enemies of Pakistan and Masajid and the religious seminaries can play a vital role in this regard, interfaith harmony is vital to combat the evil designs of the enemies. The Quran and the Holy Prophet have told Muslims that the best among among them is that person who shows the best behaviour towards other people. Acts of humanitarianism is an essential element of religious practice for the Muslims and to undertake a humanitarian act is a way of receiving help from heaven, of erasing sins and of meriting Paradise.

Q: How would you like to evaluate role of Sufism in interfaith harmony promotion?
Ans: Sufism teaches loving humanity and discovering one’s own self to understand or reach Almighty. Taking pity on people is tantamount to winning the blessings of Almighty Allah. Sufism talks about the mankind and doing good and having the right belief go hand in hand in Islam. In fact, doing good in practice is the proof of having the right belief in the heart. This is why the Holy Quran speaks of true Muslims very often as those who believe and do good deeds.

Q: How can Ulma play their role in interfaith harmony?
Ans: Role of Ulma in countering the negative elements and promoting peace, unity, tolerance and harmony in the country is appreciable. There is dire need to review country’s educational policy, ensuring training of teachers and Ulma to encourage a culture of respecting other sects and religions as well as their sacred places. The divisions in the society, hatred and arrogant behaviours of individuals and prioritizing sects over the religion were some major causes that needed urgent attention. Members of minorities, including Hindu, Sikh, Christian and others, were as patriotic Pakistanis as anyone else and that all Pakistanis must stand united and make concerted efforts for progress and development of the country.

Q: How would you like to comment on opening of Kartarpur Corridor?
Ans: Pakistan is the safest country for minorities to live their lives in tranquility and followers of all religions are equal citizens of Pakistan. Opening of Kartarpura Corridor is a gift from the government of Pakistan to Sikh community. Pakistan’s government has initiated it and Prime Minister Imran Khan also held three to four meetings in this connection and gave message to India that Pakistan wanted to open the border for Sikh pilgrims. Pakistan’s government takes it as its responsibility and pride to serve Sikh yatrees and to properly maintain their religious places. Ministry of Religious Affairs, Evacuee Trust Property Board are serving Gurdawars and other religious sites as its national obligation and would continue doing so in future. Teachings of Baba Guru Nanak are based on peace and harmony.

Q: What other initiatives your ministry is taking for the cause of unity?
Ans: Ministry’s important role is to closely liaison with Ulma and masses for well being of the country to disseminate the message of brotherhood, it should be propagated from the centers of Islam (Masajid and Maddaris), ministry is playing a vital role and also conveying the sentiments of masses and Ulma to the government. Sometimes the plans of government would be portrayed negatively in the media, which would be damaging for the country.

Q: How the ministry has performed the first hundred days?
Ans: The performance of ministry in the last hundred days was amazing; our ministry has worked very efficiently for achieving our goals, and with the same devotion will continue our work in coming every 365 days.

Q: How do you see the role of Pakistan for the unity of Muslim Ummah?
Ans: Pakistan can play a vital and leading role for the whole Ummah, the geographic loca¬tion of Pakistan would be a bridge between east and west, for propagation of the message of Islam. We need to follow the teachings of Prophet Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him) whose life is a complete guidance and a source of inspiration for every Muslim irrespective of his age, creed or geographical background. Holy Prophet (Peace Be Upon Him) brought revolutionary changes in the lives of the people. We need to re-establish the nexus between Islam and peace to regain the past glory and identity, Holy Prophet (Peace Be Upon Him) gave whole humanity a roadmap for success in the world and the life hereafter.

Q: How do you see the role of present government for promoting interfaith harmony?
Ans: The efforts of the current government for promoting interfaith harmony and peace in order to establish an inclusive Islamic society in Pakistan are very promising. There is a dire need to bring people from different religions and cultures together as well as bridge the gap between different religions as promoting interfaith harmony a service to the whole humanity, he called for concerted efforts in this regard.

We are working to promoting religious harmony, tolerance, brotherhood and equality, respect for humanity, non-violence, unity, reconciliation and a culture of dialogue in the society in order to counter extremism and terrorism and promote peace and stability. The members of minorities including Hindu, Sikh, Christian and others are as patriotic Pakistanis as anyone else. All Pakistanis should stand united and make concerted efforts for progress and development of country, the interfaith harmony was need of the hour to foil nefarious designs of the enemies of Pakistan.