Students of different religions will be peace ambassadors

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Lahore: Students of different religious backgrounds will get training to be Peace Ambassadors for the promotion of tolerance and harmony in the society.

Former President of Human Rights Commission of Pakistan Asma Jahangir while talking to News Lens Pakistan said, “Unfortunately in Pakistan the interfaith harmony is at the lowest level and there are very little efforts being made to convert intolerance into acceptance of one another’s beliefs and thinking.”

She said that the increase in attacks against minorities in Muslim society is a reality but the reaction of Christian community right after Youhanabad blasts was an entirely new phenomenon for people. This hatred and intolerance against each other must be put down but with great planning and hard work.

According to UNICEF, Pakistan is one of the world’s largest countries with 35 percent of the population aged 15 or under. Therefore, activists believe that to create a normal and tolerant society, youth must be part of the training programs and other activities that may enhance interfaith harmony.

A Muslim scholar, believer of interfaith harmony and Head of All Pakistan Interfaith Alliance. Maulana Abdul Khabir Azad believes that paying respect to each other’s faith would be a great source of establishing interfaith harmony amongst all.

“For this, youth can play a vital role as they also want prevalence of peace. We all know that terrorists are manipulating the immaturity of our youth so why can’t we put them in the right direction,” Azad told News Lens Pakistan.

He further said, “The government and religious leaders of all religions must play their part to make a policy based on youth programs for a better and peaceful future”.

Social Action Transformation of Humanity (SATH), a non-governmental organization, has launched a program called “Say No to Terrorism and Yes to Peace” by having taken leaders of four big religions of Pakistan on board.

“Under this program, Muslim, Christian, Hindu and Sikh students will work together to promote peace and harmony. Our first step is to target the institutions of Lahore,” Director SATH Punjab Kashif Nawab told News Lens Pakistan.

“Thirty institutions have been selected. 50 percent are religious seminaries and 50 percent are other institutions. All religious seminaries are situated in the areas where the minorities are living in a large number,” he added.

“The purpose of this program is to engage youth in healthy and fruitful activities to help promote interfaith harmony and tolerance towards each other’s beliefs. Muslim, Hindu, Christian and Sikh scholars will organize seminars and special lectures at these institutes. Youngsters will also be provided with reading material carrying messages of peace and harmony,” he said.

Tehreek Minhaj Ul Quran will be providing the financial and logistic support for this program. Sohail Ahmed Raza, a leader of TMQis working with SATH Punjab to mobilize youth.

“In the first phase of six months, students of all communities will participate in indoor activities which will lead to a series of interactive sessions on the concept of interfaith, peace and harmony,” Raza told News Lens Pakistan.

“At the end of the program, peace clubs will emerge that will keep conducting meetings and sessions to promote peace and to resolve religious issues occurring in their locality,” he further said.

A Sikh scholar Sardar Nop Singh told News Lens Pakistan that 120 selected Peace Ambassadors for this program will lead all activities as volunteers.
“Students will visit each other’s religious schools and will have discussion on the issues that must be discussed to increase harmony among various religions. Moreover, teachers of those schools would also be given opportunities to attend lectures of scholars so that the teachers are able to create an atmosphere which we need badly at this time,” Singh further said.

Chairman Pakistan Ulema Council Hafiz Tahir Ashrafi expressed a strong commitment to interfaith harmony while talking to News Lens Pakistan. “I have been asking the government for a long time to make all out efforts for interfaith harmony in the society.” He said, “I had proposed that material should be added to the curriculum for all levels that can enhance interfaith harmony and omit all hate material.”

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