LAHORE - Religious leaders Wednesday urged the clerics of all religions to play their role in preaching tolerance and to show respect to sacred ideas, practices and personalities of every religion.

Addressing the ‘National Solidarity Conference’ organized by Pakistan Ulema Council (PUC) at a local hotel, the scholars expressed serious concern over rising intolerance and violence in the society.

The conference was chaired by PUC Chairman Hafiz Tahir Mahmood Ashrafi and was participated by more than 30 politicio-religious leaders including JI Secretary General Liaqat Baloch, Allama Muhammad Khan Laghari of Sunni Ittehad Council, Akram Masih Gill of PPP, Hafiz Riaz Durrani of JUI-F, Provincial Law Minister Rana Sana Ullah, Bishop of Lahore Dr Alexander John Malik, Pakistan Hindu Welfare Chairman Dr Manohar Chand, Maulana Ameer Hamza, Chairman Pakistan Sikh Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee Sardar Sham Singh and others. On the occasion, the speakers were of the view that every step should be taken to promote interfaith harmony in order to avoid incidents like Badami Bagh.

Later, the participants condemned the target killings of Ulema and students of seminaries. They also condemned terror incidents in Quetta, Abbas Town and Joseph Colony. They demanded immediate arrest the culprits. They said the Badami Bagh incident had nothing to do with Islam, rather it brought shame for religion and country as well.

They said blasphemers had no religion and no lenience should be shown in dealing with such a person. However, they said innocent should not be punished under the blasphemy law. They said the blasphemy law should also be applied upon those who misuse it to serve their personal interests.

Hafiz said it was unfortunate that the country was moving towards blood bath which was continued at every nook and corner of the country. He urged all leaders to stand up against those elements who wanted to create chaos in the country.

Dr Alexander John Malik said holding such conference was need of the hour. He said Christians had equally worked shoulder to shoulder in Pakistan movement with Quaid-e-Azam. –Picture on page 15