They made their voice heard through a statement issued today by the Justice and Peace Commission (JPC).

"The assembly has passed the Shariah bill, but the people of Pakistan, in general, and minorities of the NWFP in particular, had their reservations about it and they are concerned," says the statement, signed by Dominican Father Albert Youhanna, executive of the justice commission, and Aftab Mughal, executive secretary.

"It is also against the vision of the father of the nation, Muhammad Ali Jinnah, which he expressed in the first constituent assembly on Aug. 11, 1947, when he said that religion is a personal matter and that the state has nothing to do with one's faith, and that all citizens are equal," the statement adds.

The provincial Parliament passed a bill June 2 to implement Shariah, or Islamic law, and its chief minister said those who failed to observe it were not welcome there.

Father Youhanna and Mughal "denounced the efforts of the hard-line religious alliance to impose a Taliban-like regime in the province. These efforts are against the fundamental rights of the people of Pakistan. It would increase sectarian violence."