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Anglican leader says Pakistan's minorities should have equal rights

Anglican leader says Pakistan's minorities should have equal rights

The Archbishop of Canterbury on Wednesday called for Pakistan to safeguard the rights of its religious minorities and afford them equal treatment under the law.

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The Archbishop of Canterbury on Wednesday called for Pakistan to safeguard the rights of its religious minorities and afford them equal treatment under the law.


Justin Welby, the leader of the world's Anglicans, was on a two-day visit to the eastern city of Lahore where he met with church leaders, government officials and members of the minority Christian community.


"Christians, historically, have given tremendous services to this country and I hope they can be given the scale of freedom and equal rights under the law," he told AFP.


He added his message to the people and government of this country was to respect and safeguard the rights of all minorities.


Muslims constitute around 97 per cent of Pakistan's 180 million people and minorities face severe discrimination as well as violence.


Religious minorities are constitutionally barred from high-office while members of the Ahmadi sect are barred from calling themselves Muslims.


Minorities are also frequently accused of blasphemy by Muslim complainants seeking to settle personal scores, according to rights activists.


Talking to media, he said he met many Muslim religious leaders and government fumitories including Punjab governor Muhammad Sarwar.


"Everybody is concerned about the private use of blasphemy laws, which is a sensitive matter in Pakistan," he said.


"However, they don't suggest a way forward and mechanism how to stop it."


Most of Pakistan's Christians are poor and working in menial jobs.


They have suffered attacks and riots in recent years, most notoriously last September when a double suicide attack at a church in the northwestern city of Peshawar killed 82 people.




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