An interfaith harmony exposure visit was organised by Aawaz II Programme in collaboration with SUNGI Development Foundation in Haripur to promote social cohesion, interfaith harmony and inclusion through dialogue and discussion.
As part of the interfaith exposure visit, participants visited Saint Peters Church and Imam Bargah Hussani Aza. This was an opportunity for individuals from different faiths and religions to come together and enhance mutual understanding and cooperation.
The event provided a platform to participants to hear from each other about the local issues related to social cohesion and how everyone can play a role in enhancing inclusion of minorities in their communities. The event was attended by representatives from Aawaz II District and Village Forum members, District Interfaith Harmony Committee, and local community.
Saint Peters Church Pastor Faisal said that “Today’s event has brought us all together under one platform to raise our mutual desire for interfaith harmony. This form of exposure is much needed and reaffirms the need for mutual understanding and interreligious dialogue in Pakistan.”
Talking about the importance of interfaith harmony, renowned Islamic scholar and Head of Department, Islamic Studies, University of Haripur Dr Mohaimin stressed that: "We need to suspend all biases and all lenses of judgement to hold dialogue with faith communities.
In Pakistan, inter and intra faith dialogues are not common. We need to work together to promote an environment of inclusion, and dignity without discrimination on any basis. Islam talks about humanity. A true Muslim is one who protects other human beings from any form of harm.”
Additional Deputy Commissioner Relief and Human Rights (Haripur) Muhammad Abid remarked that, "In December, I plan to hold a khuli kacheri to hear the issues of Christian citizens of Haripur. All are invited to attend (men, women, elderly, and even children).” He highly appreciated the event and said it should be a top priority of Government to ensure the equal access to services for its all citizen without any discrimination.
He further said that this country did not belong to a particular sect or community, this country is made for all the people whose rights have been protected by the constitution. “All people living in this country are equal citizens and entitled to equal rights. Our constitution guarantees that all citizens living in this country will be provided with their fundamental rights at their doorstep,” he added.
Aawaz II District Forum Member and Chairman Bait-ul-Mal Nayyar Abbas Jaffri, welcomed all participants to the Imam Bargah and hailed that “The life and message of Imam Hussain is not for Muslims only. His life and message extend to all human beings."
Other key notables including Advocate Gulnaz Rasheed, Tehsin ul Haq, Dr Irfan Nasir, and Riasat Khan also spoke at the event and shared their insights related to promotion of an inclusive society. At the end of event, participants shared their recommendations on how to promote interfaith harmony and inclusion of religious minorities.
Aawaz II works with local communities in Khyber Paktunkhawa and Punjab provinces to promote the rights of children, women, youth, and other marginalised and vulnerable groups including young people, women, minorities, transgender persons, and persons with disabilities (PWDs), to facilitate and strengthen their development.
Published in The Express Tribune, November 19th, 2022.
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