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Pakistan’s bishops meet prime minister

ISLAMABAD (UCAN): A delegation from the Pakistan Catholic Bishops Conference (PCBC) met with the country’s prime minister, Imran Khan, on July 4 and handed him a check for US$35,250 ($252,567) for the construction of dams for the Diamer-Bhasha and Mahmand water reservoirs.
The delegation, facilitated by a Christian Member of the National Assembly, Jamshed Thomas, included PCBC president Archbishop Joseph Arshad of Islamabad-Rawalpindi; Archbishop Sebastian Francis Shaw of Lahore, Bishop Benny Travas of Multan and Bishop Indrias Rehmat, the bishop-elect of Faisalabad.
“We, Catholic Bishops of Pakistan, felt it was our responsibility to support this noble cause and for this we campaigned in our parishes, Church-run schools and organisations to raise funds,” Archbishop Shaw said.
“In November 2018, we decided in the bishops conference meeting to take this initiative and all the Catholic bishops invited and encouraged our priests, faithful in our respective dioceses, to generously contribute,” the archbishop explained.
“Water is a basic need of life and we will be facing drought if no serious measures are taken to preserve it. We appreciate the campaign launched by the former chief justice of Pakistan to combat this challenge,” he said.
Pakistan’s former top judge, Mian Saqib Nisar, launched the campaign to raise awareness and funds for building water reservoirs in water-scarce Pakistan in July 2018.
Archbishop Shaw said, “Immediately after the chief justice took the initiative, the Catholic Archdiocese of Lahore donated 100,0000 Pakistan rupees for this cause and we are still encouraging our people to contribute and submit their donations in the bank accounts set up by the government of Pakistan.”
The delegation also spoke to Khan about issues concerning Christians in his country and highlighted the good work undertaken by the Church for the betterment of the country, especially in protecting the environment.
Archbishop Shaw lauded the tree-planting campaign launched by Caritas Pakistan, telling the prime minister, “We have planted 10 million trees all over Pakistan to combat global warming and for the good of the environment and we are still continuing it.”
Later, he said, “The meeting that had been fixed for 10 minutes lasted about half an hour and I am happy the prime minister patiently heard our concerns and responded positively.”
The archbishop noted, “He too appreciated the good work of the Church to strengthen interfaith harmony in the country and welcomed the activities for the good of Pakistan.”
Khan reiterated his government’s commitment to make every possible effort to address the issues of the minority communities.
“We are always concerned about the protection of the religious minorities in Pakistan and it is the first priority of our government to provide protection to those people,” Khan told the delegation.
“I will surely work on the concerns and issues highlighted,” he said.

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