TWO church leaders from West Yorkshire have secured a pledge
from the President of Pakistan, Mamnoon Hussain, to protect and
uphold the rights and privileges of minority-faith communities.
The Bishop of Pontefract, the Rt Revd Tony Robinson, and a
Pakistan-born Christian and Lay Canon at Wakefield Cathedral, Yaqub
Masih, were in Pakistan last week to attend the start of the
construction of a water-purification plant funded by interfaith
work in West Yorkshire.
An unexpected invitation to meet President Hussain, however,
ensured that their work to improve community relations secured
national media coverage.
Bishop Robinson said: "It was quite amazing, really. He had been
told about us, and was persuaded he should see us. As a result, we
were on every TV channel, and in every paper talking about
minorities. We had an opportunity to say something which we would
not have got. I hadn't imagined it would blossom into such a big
Pakistani media later reported the President as saying that
minorities were equal citizens, and all possible steps were being
takento bring them into the mainstreamof national life. He called
on all concerned' especially leaders of all faiths, to play their
partin promoting interfaith harmony.
The water-purification project in the Punjabi town of Gojra, 230
miles from Islamabad, grew out of an incident in 2009, when nine
Christians were burned out of their homes (News, 7
Interfaith groups in West Yorkshire wanted to help promote
religious harmony, and two years ago hosted a delegation from the
region to discuss what practical help could be offered.
Access to clean water is a huge problem, and the Yorkshire
community raised more than £6500 to build the purification
"We now want to...raise more money for more plants," Bishop