A documentary highlighting the plural and sufi heritage of Pakistan was screened on Tuesday at the Pakistan Institute of Parliamentary Services (Pips).
The screening of “Story of a Banyan Tree” was attended by parliamentarians, media officials and students. The documentary begins with the story of a centuries old Banyan tree, which was burnt down by an extremist religious group because Buddhists used to worship under it.
The story then takes the viewers on a spiritual journey of the pluralist heritage of Pakistan, which manifests the existence of religious harmony and peaceful co-existence.
The event was attended by Dr Kamran Ahmad, writer of the documentary, MNA Dr Ramesh Kumar, Maliha Hussain, director of Mehergarh, Dr Fouzia Saeed, executive director of Lok Virsa and Tauseeq Haider, managing director of BlackBox Sounds.
The screening was followed by a short panel discussion where Kumar said as representatives of the people, it was their responsibility to put systems in place to strengthen a counter narrative to extremism. “We all need to join hands, across party lines to revert to a safe and secure country,” he added.
Hussain said it was crucial for all of us to actively play our part in changing the situation around us.
Dr Ahmad told The Express Tribune that the decreasing level of tolerance in society for people of differing beliefs and ethnicities was very alarming.
During the discussion, Haider mentioned that the real purpose of the documentary was to educate people.
“Our elected representatives, wherever they have influence, and also the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting can instruct television channels to use this documentary for this purpose,” he said.
Earlier, Saeed said that Pakistan had a very rich sufi and cultural heritage.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 13th, 2015.