Lahore, December 22, 2023: In a heartening pre-Christmas gathering, the Chief Justice of the Lahore High Court, Muhammad Ameer Bhatti, along with notable dignitaries including the Moderator of the Church of Pakistan, The Rt Rev. Dr Azad Marshall, The Rt Rev Alwin Samuel, Bishop of Sialkot Diocese Samuel Payara, Chairman of the International Minorities Rights Forum (IMRF), and President of the Christian Lawyers Association Pakistan, Adnan Shamim Bhatti, Advocate, as well as members of civil society, aimed to foster unity and acknowledge the Christian community's contributions to Pakistan.
Addressing the gathering, the Chief Justice expressed his joy in sharing the cake-cutting ceremony with the community, affirming his belief in the unity of all Pakistanis irrespective of religious differences. "We are first and foremost Pakistani, and therefore, you are family to me," he declared, emphasizing the nation's foundational principles of unity and mutual respect.
Highlighting the constitutional safeguards, the Chief Justice referenced three pivotal articles that guarantee equal rights to all religious communities in Pakistan: Article 20, ensuring freedom of religion and worship; Article 25, providing equal protection before the law; and Article 36, guaranteeing the protection of religious minorities.
The address also paid homage to the Christian community's significant role in both the establishment and development of Pakistan, singling out Mr. Justice A. R Cornelius, a revered figure in the judicial history of the country. The Chief Justice stressed that the Christian community, along with other minorities, must be treated as equal citizens and afforded the protections mandated by the Constitution.
Acknowledging the challenges and injustices faced by religious minorities, the Chief Justice conveyed a powerful message of solidarity and the necessity of respecting differences to prosper as a nation. He reminded the audience of Pakistan's origins as a sanctuary for religious minorities and underscored the importance of unity in today's divided world.
As the Chief Justice of the Lahore High Court, he pledged his and the court's commitment to guaranteeing equal treatment for all, admitting the imperfections of the system but expressing determination to continually improve it. He envisioned a future where all Pakistanis take pride in a just and fair legal system.
In concluding his address, the Chief Justice extended warm Christmas wishes to all, expressing hope for a future where Pakistan thrives as a diverse and united nation. This gathering not only marked a festive celebration but also reinforced a commitment to the principles of equality, justice, and mutual respect among all communities.