KARACHI: On National Day for Minorities, Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah visited the Holy Trinity Cathedral, Swami Narayan Temple and Guru Nanak Darbar and lauded the contribution of the religious minority communities to country’s progress.
At the church, the chief minister accompanied by some of his cabinet members was received by Bishop Sadiq Daniel with a warm welcome given by schoolgirls who played flute and drums on his arrival.
Speaking on the occasion, Mr Shah said the religious minorities had contributed a great deal to society, particularly in the education and health sectors. “I have received education from a Christian missionary school. I am proud to say that what I am today has your contribution in the shape of education,” he said.
CM Shah said the Pakistan Peoples Party and his government were committed with the cause of minorities’ rights. “The party leadership has given representation to a Christian special assistant in my cabinet,” he said, adding that he would look after the community personally.
The chief minister said he turned 54 on Thursday. “This is also something to be proud of that I am celebrating my birthday the same day when our fellow citizens are celebrating their national day.”
Addressing the gathering, Bishop Daniel Sadiq welcomed Mr Shah and appreciated the latter’s gesture to commemorate the National Minorities Day with them.
On the occasion, however, the audience including the chief minister rose from their seats and observed a two-minute silence to mourn the victims of the recent bomb blast in Quetta.The programme concluded with the Christian community wishing birthday greetings to the chief minister. They also sang a birthday song for him with claps.
Later, Mr Shah visited the Swami Narayan Temple along Mohammad Ali Jinnah Road where he was received by the Hindu community leaders who showered rose petals on him upon his arrival.
As he arrived, the people at the temple led him to a corner where they had lit the candles to pay tribute to the people who lost their lives in Quetta blast. The chief minister also lit a candle for them.
Later, they took him to the main building of the temple to participate in the proceedings they had arranged for Mr Shah. He celebrated his birthday by cutting a cake inside the temple.
The chief minister later headed to the Sikh temple, Guru Nanak Darbar, situated on the same premises. He stayed with the Sikh community for some time and witnessed their rituals.
The chief minister assured the religious minority communities that he would continue to protect their rights. “I am just a phone call away from you, whenever you need me. I assure you again that you would be equally respected and protected. This is your country and enjoy your life free of fear,” he said.
A 12-member Iranian delegation led by deputy foreign minister Dr Mohammad Kazem called on the chief minister and discussed with him avenues in the education, research and agriculture sector to work together for mutual benefit.
Mr Shah told the delegation that an Iranian doctor had operated a transplant operation at the Sindh Institute of Urology and Transplantation. “We are working together in the health sector and would further widen the scope in other sectors as well,” he said.
Earlier in the morning, Mr Shah began his day by planting a coconut tree in the lawn of CM House. He said it was the beginning of a drive that he had launched by planting a tree.
The forest ministry and other Sindh government organisations are part of that campaign. “We all have to make this province lush green by not just planting the trees, but also nurturing them,” he said.
In the evening, officials said, he flew to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to perform Umrah.
They said the chief minister was expected to return by Saturday.