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REMARKS BY CHARGE D’ AFFAIRES DR. ASAD M. KHAN AT THE ANNUAL INTERFAITH IFTAR 2013

REMARKS BY CHARGE D’ AFFAIRES DR. ASAD M. KHAN AT THE ANNUAL INTERFAITH IFTAR 2013

Distinguished Guests,

Honorable leaders from various faiths,
Members of the diplomatic corps,
H.E. Dr. Shankar Prasad Sharma, Ambassador of Nepal

Assalamalaikum

I am honored to welcome you all to the Embassy of Pakistan for the Annual Interfaith Iftar 2013.

This gathering is now an important feature of the Embassy’s calendar of events and serves as a useful platform for us to engage with members of all major faiths that represent the rich spiritual diversity of Washington.
Once again, we are proud to host representatives from the Christian, Jewish, Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Muslim and other communities.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Fasting is a concept that is intrinsic to almost all major religions. Fasting signifies the quest for achieving piety, self-discipline and learning to share.

Islam attaches great significance to fasting as one of its five pillars.

The month of Ramadan, when Muslims observe fasting, is a unique occasion to value and appreciate what we have, to share what we can and help those in need.

Most importantly, Ramadan is an occasion to seek our Creator’s mercy and forgiveness and to show gratitude for His blessings.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Islam is a religion of peace and submission. It teaches tolerance and peaceful coexistence. And a true believer of Islam is enjoined to respect all other religions and their beliefs.

The Holy Quran states that “There is no compulsion in religion.” (Chapter 11: verse 256)

There have been numerous instances throughout the history that Muslims, Christians and Jews have lived together peacefully as citizens in one state. The Charter of rights for the protection of St. Catherine’s’ Monastery and the Charter of Medina both authored and implemented by the Holy Prophet are great illustrations of how Muslims are expected to treat the adherents of other faiths.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

As a modern Islamic democratic state, we the people of Pakistan are the proud inheritors of these Islamic teachings.

Imbued with this spirit, the newly elected democratic Government of Pakistan under Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif is very much committed to the vision of the Quaid-e-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah for a pluralistic democratic Pakistan where all citizens enjoy equal rights, protection and freedom to practice their faith. Quaid-e-Azam’s speech of August 11, 1947, to our Constituent Assembly gave us the way forward, where he stressed that all citizens of Pakistan should be free to go to their temples, mosques, churches and places of worship.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Indeed these are challenging times. Religious dogma, intolerance and extremism has unfortunately come to define this age and time.
Religion, instead of being a vehicle for seeking divine deliverance, is being used by some to create divisions and drawing lines across humanity.

Today, more than ever before, we need religion and its common spiritual underpinnings as a unifying force for good. This is critical to prevent a handful of zealots, who are using violence and coercion, from imposing their beliefs on the rest of humanity.

Distinguished Guests

Let us join hands to make inclusion define our age and time. Let us reject extremism and work to make peace and harmony prevail for the good of our future generations.

Before concluding, may I request you to join me in praying for world peace, interfaith harmony, mutual respect and greater religious tolerance.

Thank you.

July 30, 2013
Washington DC,

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