LAHORE – Peace lovers in Pakistan gathered Thursday to advance their mission to bring back stability and interfaith harmony in the country which has faced worst form of religious extremism in recent decades.
Leading scholars and prominent figures from all religions existing in Pakistan attended a conference titled ‘Peace and Co-existence between Religions,’ organised by World Council of Religions at a local hotel in Punjab capital, stressing upon the government to protect the rights of all religions and sects.
They called for a total ban on proscribed organisations from collecting animal hides, while urging facilitation for the charity groups which are registered with the government.
The conference was attended by members from Muslim, Sikh, Christian and Hindu community who represented all walks of life including students, intellectuals, journalists, teachers and religious clerics.
WCR director Hafiz Muhamamd Nauman Hamid expressed that the purpose of council was to promote brotherhood between people from different faiths. “We strive for solving societal problems through debate and dialogue,” Hamid said while opening the conference.
Dr Munawar Chand from Hindu community expressed that respecting religious beliefs and rituals of others paves way for tolerance among people.
Sardar Janam Singh, who represented Sikh community, was of the view that teachings of any religion stand incomplete without message of love.
Qazi Niaz Hussain Naqvi stated that prior to affiliation with any religion, humanity was the common attribute among people. “All the religions convey message of love, affection and peace,” he said.
The representative of Punjab Government, Rana Arshad expressed that such events apprise youth of teachings of different religion. Arshad, who serves as adviser to chief minister, noted that such conferences instill a feeling of reverence in people for other religions.
The conference was also addressed by renowned journalist Habib Akram, who declared that if different religions work jointly for humanity, many complex problems like poverty, unemployment and illiteracy would be addressed automatically.
Besides notable intellectuals, others who addressed the conference included Dr Samiah Raheel Qazi, Asim Makhdoom, Pastor IB Roki, Bhagat Laal Khokhar, Emanuel Khokhar, Mufti Ashiq Hussain, Dr Mudassir Hussain, Sohail Ahmed Raza, Haji Amir Rasheed, Dr Majeed Abel, Father Nadeem Francis, Hafiz Kazim Raza Naqvi, Sardar Kalyan Singh, Qari Inaamur Raheem, Shakeel ur Rehman Nasir, Hafiz Sami Ullah and Aslam Nadeem Naqshbandi, and Engr Sohail Lashari (former LCCI president).
At the end of the conference, bouquets and shields were presented to outgoing Bishop Samuel Azarayah in recognition of his efforts for peace.
A reception was also hosted for newly appointed Bishop of Raiwind.
The conference’s participants hailed the efforts of Muslim community regarding farewell and welcome of new Bishop as a positive step towards promotion of interfaith harmony and peace.
The WCR course of actions includes:
- Rights of all Pakistanis are equal and must be respected regardless of religion or sect.
- Extremism, terrorism and killing using name of faith are against the religion.
- No sect will be called Kafir except those are declared in Constitution of Pakistan.
- Extra judicial killing of any Muslim and non-Muslim will not be allowed.
- Loudspeakers will only be used for Azaan and Arabic sermon, and other violation will be made.
- Inciting content will not be spread.
- Complete ban should be announced on the posting of provoking material on social media websites and violators should be arrested.
- Scholars, writers should maintain balance in their speeches and books, besides avoiding spreading hatred.
- Sectarian issues should be resolved through mutual understanding and serious debates.
- Respect will be given to holy personalities and books of all religions and sects.
- All scholars and intellectuals will remain united for making Pakistan stronger.