ISLAMABAD - President Mamnoon Hussain has reiterated firm resolve of the present democratic government to protect and uphold the rights and privileges of the minority community as enshrined in the Constitution of the country, saying that minorities were equal citizens of the country and all possible steps are afoot to bring them into the mainstream of national life.

The President said this during meeting with a delegation headed by Bishop Tony Rubinson, Bishop of Wakefield & Chairman of Pakistan Focus Group set by the Arch Bishop of Canterbury, UK, at the Presidency on Wednesday. The delegation included Canon Yaqub Masih, Board of Directors, West Yorkshire Police Community Trust in UK; Elvin Jalal Din, Chairman Pakistan Christian Concern Pakistan; Samule Payara, President Bright Future Society; Chief Coordinator Rehabilitation Response UK, Wajid Nadeem; Project Director Governor's Clean Water Initiative, M Akmal Hameed; and Pervez Barkat.

The President lauded the role being played by the minority community in the socio-economic development of Pakistan and said that the Pakistan value their invaluable contributions in the nation building and that the government would continue to work for protection of rights of all the non-Muslim citizens. He reaffirmed government's commitment towards the welfare and uplift of the Christians and all non-Muslim brethren living in Pakistan.

The President on the occasion called upon all concerned especially leaders of all faiths and schools of thoughts to play their role in promoting interfaith harmony and said that need for religious harmony and tolerance was never as great as it is today.  Religious tolerance is the best way to create interfaith harmony as all religions stress tolerance and co-existence of people of all faiths, the President continued.

Discussing UK- Pakistan relations, the President said that the two countries enjoy close and fraternal ties encompassing diverse areas of cooperation, adding that Pakistan considers UK as a close friend and genuine development partner.

The President welcomed Bishop Tony Rubinson on his visit to Pakistan for the great cause of inter-faith harmony and also appreciated his noble gesture to inaugurate clean drinking water and water treatment plants at Gojra, Punjab.

Bishop Tony Robinson thanked the President for meeting the delegation and appreciated the various steps being taken by the government for the welfare and betterment of the Christians and Minority community in Pakistan. The delegation also appreciated the efforts being made by the government for promoting harmony and love among various faiths and religions.