Will review laws that "militate against" minority: Zardari

Pakistan`s Presidentsaid his government will review all laws that "militate against" Pakistan`s minority communities, weeks after gunmen shot dead two Christians accused of blasphemy outside a court in Punjab Province.

Islamabad: President Asif Ali Zardari
today said his government will review all laws that "militate
against" Pakistan`s minority communities, weeks after gunmen
shot dead two Christians accused of blasphemy outside a court
in Punjab Province.

Besides creating a five per cent quota for minorities
in government jobs and reserving four for them in the Senate
or upper house of parliament, the government has "decided to
review all laws that militate against minorities and the
vulnerable sections of society," Zardari said in a message on
the occasion of Pakistan`s Minorities Day.

The murder of Rashid Emanuel and his brother Sajid
outside a court at Faisalabad in Punjab province last month
had triggered angry protests by members of the Christian
community.

The brothers were reportedly killed by members of a
banned religious group. The brothers were arrested some time
ago after leaflets allegedly bearing their names and featuring
derogatory remarks against the Prophet Mohammed were found in
Faisalabad.

Christian leaders, including Minorities Minister
Shahbaz Bhatti, had said the killings were an outcome of the
misuse of the Blasphemy Law.

In his message, Zardari said Minorities Day was an
occasion to "recognise the important role played by the
minorities in Pakistan in nation building, the sacrifices
rendered by them, the problems and issues faced by member of
minorities as well as to renew our commitment to protect their
rights and to draw them fully in the mainstream of national
life".

The Pakistan People`s Party-led government is driven
by the vision of Pakistan`s founder Muhammad Ali Jinnah, who
had laid the foundations of a modern, tolerant and progressive
Pakistan "in which everyone will have equal rights regardless
of creed and gender", he said.

PPP founder and former President Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto
drafted the constitution of 1973 that allowed minorities to
freely profess and practice their religion and culture,
Zardari said.

Noting that Pakistan had been hit hard by terrorism
and natural calamities like the unprecedented floods, Zardari
called on people of all faiths to join hands to promote peace
and harmony and to alleviate the sufferings of people affected
by the deluge.

In a separate message, Prime Minister Yousuf Raza
Gilani said the government was committed to preserving the
rights of minorities.

"We recognize that our minorities are responsible and
patriotic and are playing their due role in nation building.
We will, therefore, never allow the miscreants to be
successful in their ulterior motives," he said.

PTI