ISLAMABAD - Minorities Day observed on Monday to recognise the distinguished role played by the minorities in nation building of the country.President Mamnoon Hussain and Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif said that the present democratic government is driven by the vision of the Quaid-e-Azam in protecting the rights of the minorities.In his message, President Mamnoon Hussain said August 11, is an important day in our national calendar, when we reaffirm our resolve to the ideals of the Quaid-e-Azam to continue striving for the protection of the rights of all faiths and bringing them in the mainstream of national life. It was on this day in 1947, when the Quaid in his historic address to the Constituent assembly outlined the contours of a modern and tolerant Pakistan in which people of all faiths will have equal rights and opportunities. This vision of a tolerant and modern Pakistan is also enshrined in the Constitution of Pakistan. The observance of Minorities Day reflects our commitment to integrate people of all faiths in the national life.Let us reiterate today that we will uphold the ideals of equal rights and complete freedom to every citizen to freely profess and practice his or her religion.On this day let us also remember and pay homage to all courageous advocates of interfaith harmony and pledge to promote democratic values and culture as an essential tool for promoting tolerance, peace and harmony. In his separate message, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif said the observance of "Minorities Day" is an occasion to recognize the distinguished role played by the minorities in nation building, the sacrifices rendered by them, as well as to renew our commitment to protect their rights and to promote national harmony among various faiths.The Quaid's vision is contained in his historic speech on this day in 1947 that laid down the foundations of a modern, tolerant and progressive Pakistan in which everyone will have equal rights regardless of creed and gender. Quaid-e-Azam's vision is embodied in the Constitution of 1973 that envisioned minorities to freely profess and practice their religion and culture. Inspired by this vision, the Government of Pakistan observes August, 11 each year as the minorities day to reiterate the need to integrate people of all faiths in the national mainstream. The Government has reserved 5% job quota for minorities in government services and provided them reserved seats in the Senate, National Assembly and Provincial Assemblies while their religious festivals are celebrated at official level.This day provides us a chance to reaffirm our commitment to work hard for the betterment of humanity and for a prosperous Pakistan.

This news was published in The Nation newspaper. Read complete newspaper of 12-Aug-2014 here.