Archbishop of Canterbury awarded Sitara-i-Pakistan
Thursday 13th December 2012The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, has been presented with the Sitara-i-Pakistan - one of the highest civil awards conferred by the President of Pakistan.
The citation, which was presentation at the High Commission for Pakistan in London, praised Dr Williams for his support of the Government of Pakistan in its efforts to protect the rights of minorities in the country, as well as for his many prayers for the development and progress of Pakistan.
The Archbishop said "I feel that this award which I'm deeply honoured to receive is a real recognition of the Government of Pakistan's willingness to work to protect minorities, to honour the diversity of Pakistan while at the same time upholding it's best traditions".
On receiving the award. the Archbishop delivered a speech in which he said "In the citation, mention was made of the prayers which we offer for Pakistan, it's no exaggeration to say that virtually every day in Lambeth Palace, we remember Pakistan and it's people in our prayers with profound appreciation for what Pakistan has meant and may still mean in the future. Profound concern for minorities who still feel themselves at risk, profound hope that the different faith communities of Pakistan can still form one cohesive national community in which justice and equity for all will be guaranteed."
"In receiving this award, I renew my own prayers for Pakistan's future, a future not only for the people of the country, but a future in which Pakistan can hold up before the region and the world an example of fruitful pluralism rooted in Islamic conviction, but as I said earlier, a conviction strong enough not to be threatened by diversity. Those people who believe that they can defend their convictions best by violence or exclusion are not exemplars of the strength of faith, but exemplars of fear and anxiety, not secure enough in their own sense of trust in God and God's providence to leave the running of the universe to God. They seek to stand in for God and take into their hands the powers of life and death in a way which instead of being faithful, is at heart deeply blasphemous."
"So it is in honour of true faith, true harmony and diversity, true democratic vision that I accept this award with a very deep sense of the honour done, but also a deep sense of gratitude for a recognition of the affection and esteem which we bear for Pakistan and it's people, for yourself your Excellency, who has been a faithful and valued friend over these years as Archbishop, and we join our prayers together in the hope for that justice and equity which all of us seek to honour Almighty God as Almighty God desires to be honoured, knowing that that honour is most deeply given when we live in justice and in harmony one with another".
The President of Pakistan confers civil awards on the citizens of Pakistan and foreign nationals for their services to Pakistan.
The announcement of civil awards is generally made once a year on Independence Day, 14th of August, and their investiture takes place on the following Pakistan Day, 23rd of March.
Pakistan Civil Awards comprise following five Orders.
1. The Order of Pakistan
2. The Order of Shuja’at
3. The Order of Imtiaz
4. The Order of Quaid-i-Azam
5. The Order of Khidmat
Each Order has four descending categories namely, Nishan, Hilal, Sitara and Tamgha.
Sitara-i-Pakistan is the third highest civilian award after Nishan-e-Pakistan and Hilal-e-Pakistan.
The past recipients of this award include: Mr. Abdus Salam (scientist), Bronte Clucas Quayle, Mr. James Shera, Greg Mortenson, An Qiguang and many others.