Julius Salik was born in a modest Christian home in Lahore in 1948, a year after Pakistan had come into existence as a new country on the map of the world. He has spent the last 30 years in his tireless sacrifice for the peace and liberty. He has been struggling for the World Minorities Alliance since long. About World Minorities Alliance J.Salik said “After having given serious thought to problems of the oppressed, helpless and downtrodden people particularly the repressed minorities, I have reached the conclusion that they need practical help. Kashmiri community is scattered all over the world. Their status is that of minority in various countries. They need to be united at one platform. Until the oppressed are united, their problems cannot be earnestly addressed. That is why I conceived an idea of World Minorities Alliance 30 years back. To realize this dream I had to consistently work hard.”
J.Salik has touched the top through sheer hard work. He has struggled sincerely, selflessly and undauntingly to support the weak and downtrodden, not in Pakistan alone. His passion for peace transcends national frontier. His mission is humanitarian rising above party politics or religious outfit and geographical barrier. He seeks to serve humanity without discrimination.
More than once he had been elected to Pakistan parliament and have had been a cabinet Minister. Despite that he is down to earth commoner. He is a true representative of the poor. He insists to remain poor himself. He has proved to be incorruptible. He lives in a hired house. He owns no house, no residential plot and no assets.
The secret of J.Salik success lay in his determination. In no circumstances he loses hope. He has made people around him believe that the rights do no accrue on their own. The rights have to be won through struggle, sincere struggle and sometime prolonged one J.Salik’s name is a symbol of honor and respectability not only in the Christian community but among Pakistan masses especially the labour class.
His life story is a legend, a message of hope and a role model for anyone with any background anywhere in the world.
Rising from dust J.Salik has become a brilliant star. Benazir Bhutto was probably right when she remarked that the flame of liberty shines brightest in the dark. She had made this observation while nominating J.Salik (after considering several other dignitaries of Pakistan) for Nobel Peace Award in 1996 for his “tireless CRUSADE for peace and liberty.” Jameel-ul-Din Aali, a poet laureate and former Pakistan senator is probably more than right when he says that some persons do reach the peak where award whether national or international is so small to honor them. On the contrary the award bestowed on such a person itself adds to the award’s credibility. J.Salik has touched that pinnacle.
He worked not only for the Christian community but also for the fundamental rights of the people all over the world. He has been a bridge between the minority and majority and strived hard to minimize the irritants in Pakistan. His voice was heard loud and clear whenever an act of hostility was committed against humanity, be it in Bosnia, Kashmir and Palestine, Philippine, Burma, Uganda or even the Iran Iraq war. His love for humanity made him visit Bosnia to share grief and sorrow of the people who were facing worse type of repression in 1994. He was Federal Minister at that time and was enjoying all perks but his commitment compelled him to choose to celebrate Christmas with Bosnians. His entire family members put themselves on life risk, wearing bullet proof jackets conducted a peace prayer mission to Bosnia with an aim to console and share their sufferings. His bold decision to celebrate Christmas with Bosnian Muslims averted Christian-Muslim clash in Pakistan feared at that time. During the hostage crisis between US and Iran, he made a fervent appeal to Imam Khomeni, the Iranian religious leader and requested for the release of 72 diplomatic hostages on the occasion of Christmas so that they could celebrate it with their families.
He always raised voice for the rights of minorities, liberty and human rights. He struggled for the rights of the oppressed throughout his life. He supported all movements the world over for freedom and justice through innovative protests and demonstration. In this struggle he suffered and made numerous sacrifices.
He wore coarse jute clothes for twelve years to protest massacre of Muslim minority in India. The National Assembly of Pakistan in a unanimous resolution recognize his services and he was requested to give up that extraordinary dress. In extreme cold he trekked 2000 kilometers to raise voice against Iran-Iraq war. He spent two years in tents, giving up family life, to agitate against Iran-Iraq conflict.
During his thirty year struggle he put ash on his head, torched his domestic belongings, underwent imprisonment and reached war-tom Bosnia along with his family members. When his only son pointed the life hazard, J. Salik silenced him saying that the dead bodies of father, mother and son reaching Pakistan on Christmas would not only help arouse world conscience but also enhance Pakistan’s prestige and boost up morale of the minorities in the world.
J. Salik owned the life risk in writing and donning bulletproof jacket and riding army tank left the airport to express solidarity with the oppressed Muslims in the city.
He took to khaki dress after being sworn as Federal Minister to demonstrate austerity and simplicity. He declared his minister bungalow in the ministers’ enclave in Islamabad as orphan house where the destitutes were being reared along with his son so that the poor children and the minister’s son slept under the same roof. Symbolically this may end discrimination. Security guard was removed from his minister’s house. His gunman was re-designated as a clerk, so that the wall of weapon separating the minister from common man may demolish.
Immediately after taking oath as minister, he announced abstinence from meat eating. According to him it did not behove a minister to indulge in chicken “charga” luxury while the common man could hardly afford “dal roti”.
J. Salik’s only son got married when Salik was a minister. The bridegroom’s natural wish was to invite dignitaries to partake in wedding ceremonies. J. Salik refused on the plea that the country was already debt ridden, the protocol in connection with participation of Prime Minister and others may involve wastage of vast national wealth while the poor remained deprived of basic facilities like education and health. Thus marriage festivities were confined to feeding seventy orphan children and playing national anthem.
As a Minister he ordered that the daily work might start with recitation from the Holy Quran. During the recitation all functionaries from secretary to messenger stood in a single row. The attendance and dedication to duty were also monitored. To put an end to class division it was mandatory for the seniors including the secretary to mister all personnel including peons.
During his tenure as a minister J. Salik’s father was on deathbed in the United States and the government sanctioned $8000 plus air ticket and other expenses to make his official trip to the States. He refused to go to inquire after his father’s health on official account.
In 1990 he was elected to the National Assembly as an independent candidate. The then government tried to purchase his loyalties for RS 20 million. He contemptuously turned down the offer.
He polled the highest number of votes, the record yet to be beaten in Pakistan, individually in each province namely Punjab, Sindh, N.W.F.P., Balochistan and federal capital. His election was without any investment which too is a record in Pakistan history.
In 1995 residential plots were being allotted to members of Parliament under a parliamentary housing scheme. The allottee was to pay only Rs. 0.6 million while the plot could earn a profit of Rs. 17.75 million on open market. At the outset J. Salik announced at a press conference that he would not accept an official plot until each and every poor man in Pakistan owned a house. J. Salik takes pride that neither he nor any member of his family owns even an inch of land anywhere in the world. He lives in a hired house in Islamabad. It has been an article of faith for him to attain distinction and to bring glory to his country while remaining materially poor.
Not only in Pakistan but millions of people living abroad are aware of the epic struggle of J. Salik spread over twenty-five years and acknowledge that he never attained any personal gain.
In this vast world J. Salik does not own an inch of land. He never obtains any permit/license of any sort. His entire life is like an open book. His office cum residence in Islamabad has been provided by renowned and benevolent nuclear scientist Dr. A.Q. Khan. At one stage Dr. Qadeer Khan had placed his personal car at Salik’s disposal to enable him to carry on his humanitarian mission.
As a Minister, his doors were open to all and sundry. He removed police security from his gate. Even the door of his minister’s room was ordered to be kept open.
At the end of his tenure as a minister he left his bungalow in the ministers’ enclave, which he had declared as a national orphanage, with fanfare. National anthem was played on the occasion. He transported his belongings on slow moving camel carts. The slow motion aimed at presenting his possessions for open scrutiny and project that he discharged his cabinet functions dutifully and to promote mutual brotherhood. The camel carts carrying his luggage took ten days to reach Lahore.
On his departure he spilt a syringefull of his blood on the soil of Islamabad to renew his pledge that he would remain loyal to his homeland whether he remained cabinet minister or not. The pledge was not to betray the country which had come into existence as result of limitless sacrifices laid down in shape of martyrdom of millions of people and dishonoring of a large number of womenfolk. For him loot and plunder, corruption, obtaining loans and acquisition of licenses and permits was tantamount to betrayal of national interests.
After the termination of minister’s oath he took public oath to uphold the national interests.
Afrad ke hathon men ha aqwam ki taqdeer
Har fard ha millat ke muqadar ka sitara
(The nations’ destiny lay in hands of individuals;
Each individual is the star commanding the fate of the nation)
Instances of Pakistani Christian-Muslim co-operation
A foundation was laid for the first time in the history of Pakistan to jointly celebrate the birthday of Jesus Christ on 25th December 1981 at Wapda Auditorium Lahore to express solidarity on behalf of Pakistani Muslims particularly Ulema. Maulana Abdul Qadir Azad, Khatib of historic Badshahi mosque of Lahore and other Ulema were in the forefront.
On behalf of Muslim-Christian unity forum it was announced that in future Eid Millad-un-Nabi (Birthday of Holy Prophet of Islam) would be jointly celebrated. For the first time in the history of Pakistan Christians jointed in the festivities of their Muslim brethren and felicitated them.
To express solidarity with Muslim brethren J. Salik took to jute dress in 1981 for 12 years to register protest over the massacre of 300 Muslim minority members on the occasion of Eid in India. The gesture of expression of solidarity by J. Salik was unanimously commended by 207 members of Pakistan National Assembly.
Christmas Tree was installed at the Charring Cross (opposite Punjab Assembly Hall) on behalf of Christian-Muslim forum. Christmas Tree stands for end of Autumn and advent of spring which is celebrated on the occasion of Christmas. The Christmas tree at the Charring Cross was auspiciously inaugurated by Muslim leaders.
To protest against desecration of a mosque and the Holy Quran in Britain on behalf of World Minorities Alliance, J. Salik blackened his face. The objective was two fold. Firstly to demonstrate that the tragic incident had blackened the face of the entire humanity and secondly the express solidarity with the Muslim brethren of London.
During Zia-ul-Haq martial law days it was announced that schools would remain open on 25th December, the Christmas day. It was purported to celebrate in schools the Quaid-i-Azam birthday which synchronizes with Christmas. The decision was apparently wrong since the Christian teachers and students could not forgo their Christmas rites to come to schools. Muslim Ulema and other leaders supported the Christian demand to withdraw the decision.
During martial law days Matriculation examination continued for three consecutive years on the holy Easter day. The protest was lodged to attract government attention toward this anomaly in 1980. The government was reminded in 1981 that scheduling matric science paper on Easter day was total injustice to Christian candidates. To drop and pick children form the examination center disturbed the Easter service for the entire family. J. Salik went on hunger strike which continued for 35 days. A general strike for 7 days and blockade of the civil secretariat by a rally was threatened. Muslim brethren fully support the Christian cause.
To express solidarity with the Muslim world J. Salik undertook a 2000 KM peace march in extremely cold weather to lodge protest and express grief over loss of several hundred thousand innocent live and colossal material damage during the Iran-Iraq war. As a mark of protest J. Salik along with 25 other donned the coarse jute clothes.
J. Salik expressed jubilation over the construction of first mosque in Rome. At a ceremony at Taj Hotel, President of Italy and Ruler of Oman, Sultan Qabus were presented golden crowns. The Sultan had been honored on the completion of 100 years of Church in Oman.
J. Salik organized 70 big conventions at the national level on Muslim-Christian unity. His tireless efforts to bring Muslim Ulema near the Christian community was publicly acknowledged by Maulana Abudl Qadir Azad, Khatib of historic Badshahi mosque in Lahore. Maulana Abdul Qadir Azad had stated “Suddenly I received a telephone call form J. Salik, this call aroused in me the feeling of a father who had lost his son and Allah reunited them. J. Salik sold twice his households for the sake of the nation. He relentlessly fought for the security and promotions of the rights of the Christian community. The Christian community would be ungrateful if they don’t recognize his greatness. I would also consider Pakistanis as ungrateful if they don’t laud his services. A person sacrifices all what he has, for the land he lives in because he loves that land for J. Salik is Pakistan. Besides J. Salik has a mission to forge unity among minorities of the world which may have representation at the United Nations through a special seat. He also proposes to convene a world conference of the minorities, institute a world fund for them and bring out a journal of their own”.
J. Salik protested over massacre of Muslims in the Philippine and as a mark of protest he wore black robes for 40 days.
J. Salik lent support to 8 point peace program in 1982 of Prince Fahd for the Middle East.
J. Salik burnt and buried the effigy of Christian militia over brutal Muslim massacre in Palestine.
J. Salik organized hoisting of black flags over the houses of Christian community to protest against over violence against Muslim minority in Burma.
J. Salik organized a joint Christian-Muslim Ulema conference to press the release of 72 American hostages by Iran.
J. Salik appealed to internationalize the city of Bait-ul-Maqdus so that Pakistani Christians could also visit their sacred places in that city.
J. Salik along with his family members reached Bosnia to express solidarity with the oppressed Muslims while the was at its peak in that land. J. Salik’s only son perceived that visit as a life risk. J. Salik replied that “if the bodies of mother, father and son arrived back in Pakistan on the occasion of Christmas, this may help awake the world conscience and arise Pakistan prestige in the comity of nations.”
Despite being a Christian J. Salik was nominated on behalf of Islamic Republic of Pakistan for Noble Peace Prize. What else could be a better instance of Christian-Muslim amity in Pakistan?