Human Rights Defenders and religious leadership belonging to different faiths and religions symbolically got together at the Shrine of Sufi Saint Hazrat Shah Shamas Tabriz in Multan on the evening of 21st October for an interfaith Peace Conference on “Aman Kesay Mumkin Hae (how peace is possible?)”. The agenda items of this Peace Conference included lectures by the speakers from different religious background, Reading of an oath for Peace and harmony in Pakistan, Mehfil-e-Samah (Sufi Music).

The team of Centre for Human Rights Education- Pakistan had to a lot of challenges for the organizing of this peace conference- including security threat and unnecessary interference of the personal of the security agencies. 

The Peace Conference was jointly hosted by Saima Ali (Alumni of CHRE & Convener of DSC Multan), Arwa Khan (General Secretary of DSC Multan) and Waqas Mughira (Member of DSC Multan).

This Peace Conference aimed at

  • bringing people of different faiths and religions and all those who are trying to make Pakistan a peaceful place for everyone
  • Initiate an interfaith discussion on the ways and means to eradicate violence from the society and promote philosophy of non-violence.

In the beginning of the Conference Ms. Saima Ali explained about the objectives of conference and why it has been organized at the Shrine of Sufi Saint Hazrat Shah Shamas Tabriz. Saima said that “we chose this place as a venue because at this shrine everyone is being accepted without any discrimination and the message of Sufi Saint Hazrat Shah Shamas Tabriz was of humanity”. 

Ms. Arwa Khan, member of CHRE recited a verse from the Holy Quran along with Urdu Translation which carried the message of peace and humanity.
In his opening speech Mr. Samson Salamat, Director Centre for Human Rights Education welcomed all of the participants and congratulated the team of CHRE in South Punjab for organizing this Peace Conference.

Mr. Samson Salamat said that present situation in Pakistan now demands to talk about religious tolerance and the importance of the respect of religious diversity.
This is very unfortunate reality that the religious extremists and terrorists are trying to weaken our society. The Sufis saints of sub-continent always spread a message of Peace, Patience and Tolerance and therefore we are gathered at the Shrine of Hazrat Shah Shamas to get a strong inspiration to carry forward the message of tolerance, and interfaith harmony to build a peaceful society.

“We all are human being and are entitled to rights and freedoms which are important for us but equally important for other human beings.
This is the beauty of this conference and of this shrine that people of different  religions and faiths are present and it is a sign that until and unless we all work together for peace and consider all human being in perspective of rights we won’t be able to reach to our destination that is “peaceful society”.
These types of forums are important as these forums provide an opportunity for dialogue because absence of dialogue in any society is one of the reasons for intolerance.    

Pastor Sohrab William of Church of Pakistan- Multan said that we should be familiar with the value of a “Human Being” and our first priority should be respecting Humanity.  He said that minorities in Pakistan are also Pakistanis and we are equal as other Pakistanis. Equality among human rights is the most important thing which needs ensured in Pakistan. Until and unless all human beings are not treated equally the wish for Peace would be merely a dream.

Allama Mujahid Abbass Gardazi, a Religious Scholar of the Shia Muslim sect said that peace has become one of the biggest issue of the world and  if a human being start respecting others human beings and understands the worth of all human being then there won’t be any hurdle to bring peace in our society.
Tolerance is a value which is seriously needed to be act upon in our society because Intolerant behaviors are leading our society towards crisis.
Allama Gardazi gave certain references and examples of tolerance from the Holy Personalities of Islam. He concluded that if we are taught the values of forgiveness, love, tolerance and justice then why we always encourage intolerance and extremism. It is our sacred duty to follow the path of our Holy Personalities and to shun off the way of evil.

Mr. Abdullah Malik, President of the Civil Society Network said that “we have to start practicing peace from our home and ultimately it would get infused into society and the human rights defenders have to become a herald of the message of peace. 

Mr. Salman Abid said that Peace is the top most and the most urgent need of Pakistan as it has been divided into bases of lingual, social, political, religious differences or even on the bases of sects. Even our society is following the turmoil of individual disintegration.  Primarily and basically we are devoid of following practices of religion, constitution and law. We are imprisoned in the prison of the severe biases of cast, color, creed and many others.  Our behaviors are entirely irresponsible. Our actions are totally different than our words.  Our conscience needs to be shaken and then waken.

He further said that love is infused in the nature of human being by the Nature but we are taught hatred. If we are not taught hating others, we would come up only as an emblem of love.

Therefore now it is our duty to be determined and recognize the hate producing factors and leave no stone unturned to erase these factors from our society. It is important to make agenda of Peace in our Political manifestoes.

Professor Hafeez Kumbher started his conversation with a stress on message of sufi saints saying that whenever I travel toward Multan from Sindh I always feel that I am a messenger of  “Shah Abdul Latif Bhitai” (one of the most famous Sufi Poet of Sub-Continent) and traveling to convey his message to “Baba Shah Fareed” (another Sufi Poet of Sub-Continent). Likewise if I travel toward Lahore I always feel as if I am travelling to convey the message of “Sachal Sarmast” to “Bhullay Shah”.

Since the beginning of the History of the mankind “Building Peaceful Society” has been a challenging as the war always walk side by side. Sometimes Peace overcome and sometime War.

While giving the references of sufis saints Professor Kumbher said that people like Shah Abdul Latif Bhitai, Bhaghat Kabir and Shamas Tabraiz brought philosophy of love for humanity.
He further said that life is too short to love I don’t know how people spare time for hatred. We are born with the quality of love but are taught hatred which is not our instinct.
Professor Kumbher further said that sufis taught us love in the atmosphere of hatred. He quoted the saying of Bhagat Kabir that instead of becoming scissors we should become needle which sews and repair the cloth.

He further added that it’s a pity that our syllabus is also based on hate material and we avoid including peace related material in our syllabus. We teach our children that Hindus are our enemies, Christians are not good. The slogans like “War for Peace” and “Bomb for Peace” are disgusting and all this is leading our youth toward war hysteria and frenzy.

Mr. Veer Gee Kohli, a lawyer and activists, stressed upon the need of respecting humanity and respect of diversity.
Mr. Kohli said that diversity should be taken as a beauty of any society rather than to oppose it. The Sufis of Sub-Continent are the major contributors to the spread of Islam and the way they adopted was the way of love, peace and harmony and always rejected the method which led toward hatred. Therefore their messages are more vibrant and long lasting. The need of hour is to follow the path they set for us.

He further said that our hate is tarnishing our reputation worldwide.  Every Pakistani is now facing problems. Therefore in order to create positive image we have to start building image on individual level. We all should revisit our behaviors and try to mend our ways on individual level.

Mr. Shaukat Ishfaq, the resident Editor of Daily Pakistan said that “we are demanding basic rights but situation in Pakistan regarding human rights is worst to the level that we are even deprived of basic needs- clean water, job, health, education etc.

The basic reason for this is inequality which leads towards injustice and finally towards chaos. We have to finally accept equality regardless of any sort of discrimination, he added.