04/10/2018, 14.56
PAKISTAN
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Against terrorism, peace caravan leaves Lahore

by Shafique Khokhar

The march will touch various Pakistani cities and end in Hyderabad on 13 April. It is backed by Rwadari Tehreek and activists from various religions. In today’s Pakistan, the values of the Father of the Nation Ali Jinnah have been betrayed. Change “is not possible without the sincere contribution and efforts by all sides.”

Lahore (AsiaNews) – The Rwadari Tehreek, an interfaith movement for tolerance, is leading a peace caravan to pursue the struggle of building a peaceful Pakistan. The event is at its fifth edition.

Participants with different religious and cultural backgrounds from every province left Lahore yesterday to promote non-violence, religious tolerance and communal harmony.

The caravan left from the Lahore Press Club and is set to cover several Pakistani cities, including Faisalabad, Multan, Bahawalpur, Rahim Yar Khan, Sukkur, Khiarpur Mirs, Moro as well as the Sachal Sarmast temple with the last stop, on 13 April, in Hyderabad, where the group will celebrate at the Mumtaz Mirza Auditorium.

The starting ceremony saw the presence of several Christian representatives and Muslim ulema, as well as activists from various civil society groups.

At the launch, Rwadari Tehreek president Samson Salamat and caravan organiser said “we want to give a message to the people of Pakistan that they need to make some efforts to counter the deteriorating situation and adopt ways and means that can lead our nation towards a peaceful future. Peace is our future, not violence.”

"Unfortunately,” Salamat said, “our society is not in harmony with the vision of the founder of Pakistan, Quaid-e-Azam Mohammed Ali Jinnah, who had promised in his speech to the Constituent Assembly on 11 August 1947 that all citizens shall be treated equally without any discrimination on the basis of cast, colour or creed”.

Today, “contrary to the vision of the Founder of Pakistan, our beloved country is surrounded by controlled democracy, limitations on freedom of religion, expression, assembly and association with mob violence triggered by Blasphemy allegations that continue to claim lives and cause damage to the settlements and properties of those belonging to religious minority communities.”

In addition to frequent terrorist acts, what worries and exacerbates the existing feeling of fear, "is the use of religion in politics and state affairs” like “the recent judgement by the Islamabad High Court that requires Pakistanis applying for a public sector job to declare their religion."

For Abdullah Malik, co-chairman of the group, "terrorist groups are a threat to the lives of all people". Saeeda Diep, president of the Institute for Peace and Secular Studies and the guest of honour at the event, stressed the fact that "efforts should be maximised as these are the need of the time”

Finally, for Salamat, "Pakistan needs a quick overhauling to change path, which is not possible without the sincere contribution and efforts by all sides.”

In his view, “Strengthening democratic institutions, laws and values, improving governance, law and order, and the human rights situation should be a priority for every stakeholder. None of this will be possible without curbing intolerance, violent extremism and terrorism”.

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