The National Minorities Day was observed on Friday in Lahore, like in other parts of the country, with the aim to highlight their religious and socioeconomic uplift and rights. Various seminars, conferences walks, and sittings in political circles were held to acknowledge the role played by minorities in development of the country. A declaration to mark the National Minorities Day was adopted as part of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights to help and secure those belonging to religious, linguistic, national or ethnic minority groups. The purpose of observing the day was to highlight the message of Father of the Nation Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah, who had pronounced equal rights to all citizens of Pakistan. Pakistan is culturally linguistically, ethnically and religiously diverse. Muslims constitute 96.28 per cent of the country’s population, whereas Christians form 1.59 per cent and Hindus 1.60 per cent population of the country, International Forum for Rights and Security’s recent report said. The government of Pakistan is taking all-inclusive actions to defend, encourage and ensure the rights to all Pakistani citizens irrespective of their religious background, the report said, adding that the state must protect the equal rights of Pakistan’s minorities in every domain of life. Former Punjab Minister for Human Rights and Minorities Affairs Ejaz Alam Augustine said that religious minorities were an integral part of any society and played a vital role in the development and progress of the country. Augustine said the new local bodies system offered a good number of opportunities for minorities, adding “we all have to change the mindset of discrimination against religious minorities.” President Dr. Arif Alvi, in his message on Friday, acknowledged the role played by minorities in development of the country. He said the minorities in the country enjoyed all political, economic and social rights, guaranteed by the Constitution of Pakistan. Quoting the teachings of Islam, he said “our religion emphatically advocates for protection of minority rights and equality among all people, fostering a spirit of harmony and unity within our diverse society”. The president said Pakistan has consistently made efforts for the welfare and upkeep of minorities, including the reservation of 5 per cent quota in the government jobs, and separate seats for minorities in both houses of Parliament to encourage their active participation in the political and economic development of country. Likewise, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, in his message on the day, promised providing consistent and unwavering support for protection of rights of minorities. In his message on the occasion of National Day of Minorities, the premier said our Constitution guarantees the provision of social, political, religious and economic rights to all citizens without any discrimination of caste, creed and color. Caretaker Punjab Chief Minister Mohsin Naqvi, in his message, said that minorities have a very important role in development, prosperity, peace and unity of Pakistan. In his message, Mohsin Naqvi said “our religion and constitution teach us to treat everyone respectfully”. The CM said the Father of the Nation Quaid-e-Azam also advised for protection of the rights of minorities. He said the Punjab government is striving to eliminate discrimination and promote social harmony.