24 February | 2024

Lahore, Pakistan

President, PM felicitate Christians on Christmas, lauds their role in progress

‘Let us remember values that bind us together as a nation – respect for diversity, protection of minority rights, and a commitment to building a tolerant and inclusive society’

President Dr Arif Alvi and Caretaker Prime Minister Anwaar-ul-Haq Kakar felicitated the Christian community on the occasion of Christmas and said the nation should pledge to make Pakistan a model of religious tolerance and interfaith harmony.

In a message on Christmas, the head of the state said that minorities enjoy all political, economic, and social rights guaranteed by the national constitution. In his historic speech of August 11, 1947, Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah, the founder of the nation, had stated that everyone, irrespective of color, creed, and religion, would have equal rights, privileges, and obligations, along with complete religious freedom in Pakistan, he said.

“As we gather with family and friends to celebrate the festive occasion, let us also remember the values that bind us together as a nation—respect for diversity, protection of minority rights, and a commitment to building a tolerant and inclusive society,” he said while extending his heartfelt greetings to the Christian community. He assured that the government was committed to ensuring protection of the rights of all religious minorities.

Dr Arif Alvi said that he felt pride to say that all organs of the state fully protect the rights of minorities. “Together, we can work towards a brighter and more harmonious future for our great nation,” he said. He said that the Christmas was a time of joy, reflection, and celebration, holding a special place in the hearts of Christian brethren. He said that the diversity of religions and cultures was a source of strength for Pakistan.

He said that the Christian community had significantly contributed to the social and economic development. He said that they acknowledged commendable services rendered by the Christian community for the promotion of peace, tolerance and harmony. “On this festive occasion, let us celebrate the spirit of Christmas, fostering unity, understanding, and goodwill among all communities.”

“Christian community is celebrating Christmas in Pakistan and across the world and I and the whole nation felicitate Christian brothers and sisters on the happy occasion. Christmas is the name of love, brotherhood, patience and sacrifice,” the caretaker prime minister said in a separate message. “These values are critical in putting a society on the path of development,” he said.

In the present age, he said that there was an acute need to follow a message of human compassion, affection, tolerance and fraternity. In the last few years at the international level, human society had been facing an adverse situation due to a wave of religious intolerance, he pointed out. “To reverse this negative trend, we have to spread the message of brotherhood and religious tolerance and follow true teachings to make the world a cradle of peace.”

In Muhammad Ali Jinnah’s Pakistan, every person had complete religious freedom and the national constitution provided special protection to minorities, he said, adding every citizen was given equal rights and they had complete freedom of worship and had liberty to perform religious rituals and celebrate religious occasions. “The state and every citizen have responsibility to protect their places of worship,” he said.

“The issues faced by Pakistan can only be resolved when we rise above distinctions of color, ethnicity, and faith and work day and night as a united nation for the progress of the country,” he said. “Pakistan is our home and on Christmas we should pledge that together we will make Pakistan a model of religious tolerance and brotherhood and play our foremost role in taking our country out of all kinds of difficulties,” he said.

Pope warns against quest for worldly power and might, fame and glory

“Our hearts are in Bethlehem, where the Prince of Peace is once more ‘rejected’ by the futile logic of war,” Pope Francis said in Vatican City in a Christmas Eve. As Mass began, a statuette of the Christ child was unveiled before the altar bedecked in greenery and white flowers, and children representing various corners of the globe placed flowers around a gilded throne.

The pope warned against the quest for worldly power and might, fame and glory, which measures everything in terms of success, results, numbers and figures, a world obsessed with achievement. “God waves no magic want; he is no god of commerce who promises everything all at once. He does not save us by pushing a button, but draws near us, in order to change our world from within.”

During Angelus blessing at midday, the pontiff remembered those suffering from war. “We are close to our brothers and sisters suffering from war. We also think of those who suffer from misery, hunger, and slavery,’’ he said. “May God infuse humanity into hearts of men,” he said. He also invited the faithful not to confuse celebration with consumerism. As a Christian, one must celebrate in simplicity without waste and by sharing with those who lack necessities or lack companionship.