Shamim Masih highlights the activity of Pakistani-Christian human rights activist Romana Bashir.
Pakistani woman in the front line to defend the rights of minorities, Romana Bashir
Romana, first lady appointed as consultant for Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue in Pakistan
By Shamim Masih
Sent: 11/23/2012 10:46 PM
ISLAMABAD PAKISTAN (SHAMIM MASIH): Shanti Nagar (a Christian village in the province of Punjab) Pakistan, when fifty to sixty thousands zealots stormed this abode on the 6th of February, 1997. The storm started from Khanewal, which is a stronghold of the militants. Thirteen churches were ransacked and hundreds of homes destroyed by the arsonists. 75 to 80 percent of houses in Shanti Nagar were destroyed and 2500 people were affected.
After the riots in Shanti Nagar, many Christians have taken the leadership in defending the rights of religious minorities and the promotion of inter-religious harmony, one is Romana Bashir, the other is Arif Gill, but both share the same mission.
Romana Bashir started as a social activist, in early 1998. She started working at grass root level, and had developed the idea of nationalism; working with community members she promoted interfaith harmony. She joined Christian Study Centre, as a trainee. She worked to promote freedom of expression, dignity, justice and fairness, and equality.
Working hard since then, in 2009, she was appointed as head of the program in “Christian Study Centre”, a well-known Ecumenical Study Centre in Rawalpindi, which had prematurely lost the previous director, Francis Mehboob Sada. She is conducting various activities and programs, meeting with Muslims, tribal and civil society leaders, to develop- a culture of dialogue and harmony for the common good.
She is working in the field of education, particularly the education of women, in the main way to change the mentality and culture of the country. It is needed to train people with new approach, based on equality and rights, which could influence the opinion leaders at a national and international level. This is what Romana says in an interview with free lance journalist, Shamim Masih.
She is the first Pakistani Christian lay woman, who is recently appointed as consultant of the commission for Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue (PCID). The PCID is the central office of the Catholic Church for promoting interreligious dialogue in accordance with the spirit of the Second Vatican Council, in particular the declaration Nostra Aetate.
Talking about this status she said that Pakistani women have grown-up, especially women of religious minorities, this is great consolation for us. At a political and social level, women are increasingly present in the nation, Romana says, citing Hina Rabbani Khar, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Asma Jhangir, ex-president Supreme Court Bar, Islamabad.
This presence is a positive sign. Women in Pakistan- she concludes- are convinced that the nation needs to change and extremism should be fought. It is a very important message that gives hope to the nation.
Christian Rights Activist