Bishop Joseph Arshad of Faisalabad, who chairs the Catholic Bishop’s National Commission for Justice and Peace (NCJP), received the National Human Rights Award 2016 from Pakistan President Mamnoon Hussain on Dec.10. "We appreciate the government for recognizing the commission who have been involved in human rights advocacy, especially for religious minorities, since 1985," said Father Barkat, director for interfaith and ecumenism in Faisalabad Diocese, who received the award on behalf of the bishop. Bishop Arshad dedicated his award to the "local church" and "those who work in service of humanity in challenging circumstances." I thank the state for this recognition but a lot needs to be done for society; especially in the fields of education and health, he added. Bishop Arshad, 52, was the first Pakistani priest to join the diplomatic service of the Holy See and served for 14 years as Apostolic Nunciature to several nations. He has also worked with prisoners in the jails of Gujranwala and Karachi. Last month, NCJP and Human Rights Commission of Pakistan also received the Pax Christi International Peace Award 2016 in Geneva. The awards come as thousands of Pakistan Christian and Ahmadi families seek asylum in Thailand, Sri Lanka and Malaysia to escape discrimination and persecution.
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