02/17/2022, 17.16
PAKISTAN
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Tree planting in Karachi to promote interfaith harmony and protect creation

by Shafique Khokhar

Leaders from different religious background joined Caritas in its “One Million More Tree Plantation Campaign” to boost creation through reforestation. The earth’s is the “common home” of every believer. Some spoke out against the abuses perpetrated under the country’s blasphemy legislation.

Karachi (AsiaNews) – People from different faiths met last week at the Young Men's Christian Association (YMCA) centre in Karachi to plant trees as part of an effort to promote peace, interfaith dialogue and harmony in society.

The interfaith tree planting was jointly planned by Caritas Pakistan Karachi and Saving Lives Welfare Organization under Caritas Pakistan’s ongoing “One Million More Tree Plantation Campaign”.

The aim was to show young people the importance of interfaith harmony and promote good relations among members of different faiths, starting with nature protection and care through reforestation.

During the ceremony at the YMCA, where trees were planted, the various guests stressed the importance of peace and harmony, including Fr Bhuro Mango, coordinator of the General Office for Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation (JPIC) of the Franciscan order; Sarfraz Nazeer of Saving Lives; and Vijay Mujarni of Prem Sagar.

For Fr Mango, planting trees is also a way to respond to Pope Francis’s call in the encyclical Laudato Si’ to take care of creation and fight climate change while promoting peace between people of different faiths under the banner of a common cause.

Samson Slamat, president of Rwadari Tehreek, a movement that promotes peace and tolerance in society, also spoke at the event about some of the tragedies that have marred the country’s recent history.

Examples of mob violence under the pretext of false accusations of blasphemy, include homes set on fire in Shanti Nagar, Joseph Colony, and Sangla Hill; the lynching of Mashaal Khan, Shama and Shahzad, Priyantha Kumara, and, in the latest incident, charges of blasphemy brought against a man with mental problems in Khanewal last Saturday.

Government authorities have not been able to prevent such violent outbursts while police have usually stood idly by, unwilling to protect people, including when their lives were threatened.

Hardly anyone has been held accountable and punished, Slamat said. For this reason, Rawadari Tehreek came up with some proposals to prevent similar events from happening again.

The first step is setting up a commission of inquiry into incidents caused by Pakistan’s blasphemy legislation; the second is to try those who, under the cloak of religion, have behaved like terrorists.

The activist also took aim at Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP), an extremist political party that manipulates people's minds by exploiting and distorting Islamic law.

Making false accusations and using the blasphemy legislation to settle personal disputes should also be punished. Such practices have been used far too often in the past.

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