Pakistan And India Friendship Forum (PAIFF)
A non-violent Movement for Peace initiated by the Catholic Church in North India
Joseph Kalathil S.J.
The whole world celebrates the Birthday of the Prince of Peace on 25th December. The greatest gift Jesus gave us was His own Peace: “Peace is what I leave with you; it is my own peace that I give you. I do not give it as the world does. Do not be worried and upset; do not be afraid.” Jn.14:27 The one who has the peace which Jesus gave, will not be worried, not upset nor will be afraid. A disciple of Jesus essentially has to be a peace-loving person and a peaceful promoter of peace. One of such is Bishop Peter Celestine OFM Cap., the Bishop of Jammu-Srinagar diocese, a peace-loving man, not afraid to spread ‘peace’. He was awarded Gandhi Peace Medal by the government of Jammu & Kashmir for promoting peace and harmony in the State of Jammu & Kashmir.
On 18th of May 2011 Bishop Peter Celestine called me to Jammu for a meeting. During the meeting held in the Bishop’s House in Jammu, the Bishop, knowing me rather well, asked me to start a programme of building peace and friendship between India and Pakistan. Literally, it gave me a shock, I was worried, upset and was afraid: ‘who am I to start the work of ‘Peace Making’ between the two inimical countries?’ was the question that came to me then. Slowly rays of light started sparkling, however dim they might have been, ‘Couldn’t what the Bishop asked me be from the Lord Himself’????
Worry, being upset and fear slowly vanished. Placing all my trust in Jesus, the Prince of Peace, with the permission of Bishop Ignatius Loyola Mascarenhas, the Bishop of Simla-Chandigarh, I started working on Pakistan And India Friendship Forum (PAIFF). The permission from Bishop Ignatius was required since, at the request made by Bishop Ignatius to Father General of the Society of Jesus, I was sent to work in Simla-Chandigarh diocese under Bishop Ignatius Mascarenhas.
From the very beginning of this work of PAIFF the guidance from the Holy Spirit could very tangibly be felt. Sardar Gurmeet Singh Bajwa was literally a God-sent guide and help for this challenging but very noble mission. With the generous help and support of Gurmeet Singh and with special guidance from the Holy Spirit, the work progressed well to the satisfaction of all, in the villages along the inter-national border in Indian side near R S Pura area of Jammu-Kashmir State. It was beyond the expectations of everyone, solely because of the strong guidance received from the Lord. Time was ripe to initiate it in Pakistan, if it has to be ‘Pakistan And India Friendship Forum’ (PAIFF). In April 2012, I went to Pakistan High Commission in New Delhi, requesting for a visa to visit Pakistan. The response was a flat refusal: “We will not give you visa to go to Pakistan”, was the firm reply. Totally disappointed yet peaceful, I returned, with a spirit of surrender that I did my job and leaving the rest to the Prince of Peace, at the same time giving up the plan of visiting Pakistan. Unbelievable it was, in less than six months’ time, to the surprise of all, a visa to visit Lahore, Pakistan for fifteen days was delivered to me on 17th of October, 2012. The Divine Deed is mysterious!!! Jesus has His own way of working: FIAT ! His Will be done!!!
My lost worry began: ‘Where in Pakistan will I stay? Whom will I contact? What will I do there? How will I start this work there? Who will help me?’ and so on and on? I do not know anyone in Pakistan nor do I know any place. Sleepless nights followed!!! However, The Lord was with me even in my confusion!
I went to Lahore, Pakistan, on 6th November, 2012 for the first time with a letter of introduction from Bishop Ignatius L. Mascarenhas. Bishop Sebastian Francis Shaw, then the Apostolic Administrator of Lahore Archdiocese was very happy to welcome me. I told him about ‘the programme of peace making between India and Pakistan by starting people to people contact. After establishing friendly relationship between people of both the countries it is up to them to take up the issue with their respective government with a request to shed the ‘inimical attitude’ towards one’s neighbouring state and to work on establishing peace and friendship, building confidence and trust between the two neighbours. If the people from both sides stand up strong with such a demand, it will surely be done. There are thousands of people who have their immediate blood relations like brothers, first cousins, uncles and aunts across the border who can not communicate with ‘their own’ on the other side. They are very anxiously looking for such an opportunity to strengthen their relationship and all of them will only be happy to support PAIFF movement.
It certainly would be comparatively easier to establish people to people contact through the senior school students. The Management, Principals and the students of four schools of India were happy to support this movement. Thirty five friendly letters written by 35 Indian students, addressed to ‘unknown friends of Pakistan’ were taken to Pakistan which were given to the students of five schools in Lahore. The very first response from the students was: ‘India is our enemy’! While speaking to them, slowly the Light dawned in them. The ‘enemy’ became a ‘friend and neighbour’!!! They gave 92 letters to be delivered to the ‘student friends’ of India. What a joy and enthusiasm seen among the students of both sides, is unbelievable! Not only students, the teachers also joined in this movement. Some of the trade union people from Lahore also assured their co-operation and support .
The positive response received from the people of Pakistan for this initiative was far beyond my expectations. The strategies and modus operandi of this movement were well formulated in a systematic manner and they were submitted to the CBCI (Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India) and also to the media. This success story was enthusiastically welcomed by the people this side and the work progressed well. Meanwhile calls from Pakistan started coming in with requests to find out their relations and so on this side. My visit to Pakistan had generated lot of hope among the people there. They saw a ray of hope in it. I reflected over this, what to do now? Withdrawing from it will be betraying the people who put their trust in me and at the same time, ‘How to go about now? How to respond to the people? How to expand it? Where to get the necessary finance etc.etc. and finally, once again, putting all trust in the providence of God, I continued working on it, facing lot of obstacles, uncertainties, difficulties and hardships coming on the way. Jesus blessed the struggle. It is hard and very difficult to walk on His Path, but His is absolutely dependable and trust worthy!!
A visa to visit Pakistan for 30 days was issued to me! I went there on 18th of October, with 235 letters from five schools, from the seminarians of Gurukul and from a lawyer and from a priest and returned on 12th of November, 2013 with 250 letters from 8 schools and seminarians of Lahore Archdiocese. The response received during the 25 days stay in Pakistan this time, was far more encouraging and fruitful than that of the previous year. This time also Fr. Renato Zecchin, the Superior of the Jesuit Community in Lahore took me to meet Bishop Sebastian Francis Shaw, then the Apostolic Administrator, now the Archbishop, of Lahore. I apprised him of the progress made and of my further plans to promote peace and Friendship between India and Pakistan. Bishop Sebastian was very happy to welcome me again. Keeping in mind the importance of promoting ‘Peace’, he highlighted the need of taking this movement of ‘peace building’ beyond schools and across the Christian circle, especially to the powerful business community of Pakistan. To follow the wise advice given by Bishop Sebastian, Fr.Renato contacted a good catholic, Mr.Anthony Richards who is the Chief Information Officer of Forman Christian College which is a Chartered University. As a member of the Rotary Club, Mr.Anthony Richards has been involved in building Pak-India relationship and in that capacity, he had already visited India. He has also good contact with some of the business people. Mr.Anthony was more than willing to help in this movement.
On 24th of October I spoke to the participants of the diocesan AsIPA seminar, about the need of peace and friendship building especially between the two nations. AsIPA means ‘Asian Initiative for Pastoral Approach’. Over 35 leaders from different parishes of the diocese had come to participate in the seminar. All of them agreed that peace was the need of the hour.
Much more people and organizations have joined this movement. Though this work is not limited to any particular religion or community, as a side product, it became clear that it will be of great support to the suffering Church of Pakistan in general and especially to Punjabi Christian community in Pakistan who are going through a difficult time. The life of Christians in Pakistan is very uncertain and is difficult. A human bomb blast killed 78 people and injured over 120 believers just outside a church in Peshawar immediately after the services on Sunday 22nd September, 2013. Joseph Colony were burnt down in March 2013. Apparently two good friends, one a Muslim barber and the other a Christian having a very small shop, decided to go together for a drink. During their friendly drink, a dispute arose between them. During the argument, the losing Muslim friend threatened that he would falsely accuse his Christian friend of blasphemy, which he did. The police immediately arrested the Christian and put him behind bars. A mob went to the police station demanding to hand the accused Christian over to them which the police refused. The mob went and attacked the entire christian colony and burnt down all the houses, 178 of them! Apparently the owners of steel factories just adjacent to Joseph’s colony seem to be behind the incident. They wanted to grab about 25-30 acres of prime land in which Joseph Colony is situated!
The blasphemy law is a ‘sword’ hanging over the head of every Christian, nay over every member of minority communities of Pakistan. Even for any small disagreement with any member of the majority community, a member of the minority community becomes an easy prey of blasphemy law. Either the police will arrest him and put him in jail or a mob will kill him or will attack the entire minority community. Such a barbaric practice is certainly very depressing, to say the least. The ray of hope is that there is some awakening in the majority community however small it may be. Some of the sensible, secular minded Muslims begin to stand up defending the minority communities against blasphemy law. Such brave hearts need to be encouraged to expand such awakening. Such courageous people are the hope of Pakistan even though they are few in number at the moment!
This year I visited 8 schools in Lahore and addressed over 2500 senior students about the urgent need of establishing and promoting ‘peace’. Practically all the students and the teachers showed much enthusiasm to become ‘agents of peace’ by promoting peace at home, in the schools, with friends and in the surroundings and also peace and friendship between Pakistan and India. Peace is the need of the hour and people want peace. To the question I asked in one of the schools: ‘is there any Malala here?’ Many girls stood up to be ‘MALALAs’!! This year 250 letters were given to be delivered to the Indian students and teachers who they would like to be their friends. Many also expressed their desire to visit India. Many of them have expressed in their letters their great appreciation and love for India; they love Indian songs and Indian cinemas and other TV programmes. It is very encouraging to note that not only students and teachers, but people from different walk of the society including some of the Muslim women also are joining this movement. Many want to visit India.
Besides contacting the schools, on 29th of October Mr.Daniel Pervez Massih took me to GC University of Lahore to meet Dr. Alwin V. Murad, Assistant Professor, Department of Philosophy. Dr. Alwin V. Murad introduced me to some of his students to whom I spoke about Pakistan And India Friendship Forum. All the students, except one, were very happy about it and expressed their desire to be associated with such a movement. One of the students was a little prejudiced against India, mainly because of the tension which was going on between the BSF of India and Pakistan Rangers in the last week of October, 2013. Patient interaction with him helped him to see the ‘Indian version’ of what was happening which made him to be more balanced in his judgment. Such kind of situations are but natural and one has to expect it.
Dr.Murad invited Mr.Daniel Pervez and me to his place for the evening. Dr.Alwin V. Murad’s family lives in the Philippines. The place where he lives now is the old Jesuit House in which he runs a hostel for catholic boys studying in the University or in different Colleges in Lahore. 25 boys live in the hostel, under the supervision of Dr.Alwin Murad. All of them showed much interest to join the work of ‘Peace-building’ movement between India and Pakistan. Later Some of them visited me in Loyola Hall to assure their support.
Besides involving the educational institutions, meetings of several groups were also organized. One of such meetings was that of over 60 ‘non-violent communicators’ who expressed their support to Pakistan And India Friendship Forum. The ‘Magis Pakistan’ is another group of over 40 young men and women who also showed keen interest in Pakistan And India Friendship Forum. Over 16 Christian Agents of Peace (CAP) came together to reflect on the need of promoting peace and harmony. All of them want to strengthen good friendly relationship with India. They also formed a committee to work on it.
Since my visa was for ‘Lahore only’ I did not go out of Lahore though people in Gujjranwala were expecting me to visit them. Gujjranwala is a city about 60 kilometers away from Lahore. Twenty five ‘Christian Agents of Peace’ from Gujjranwala came over to Lahore to have a meeting with me on Sunday, 3rd of November, 2013. Most of them were well educated young men and women and studying in the colleges. It was very encouraging to see that they were all much interested to take this movement ahead and to strengthen the good healthy relationship with India. They promised that they would work for promoting peace and will also initiate this movement of PAIFF in Gujjranwala. Many of them seem to have suffered from the hostility between India and Pakistan.
One of the participants of that meeting was Advocate Ijaz Farhat, President of Christian Lawyers Association of Pakistan(CLAP). He said that there were more than one hundred Christian Lawyers in Pakistan and a good number of them were in Lahore. He volunteered to organize a meeting of Christian Lawyers of Lahore. It was completely an unexpected move which, I supported joyfully, seeing the hand of the Lord in it. It was very edifying to see fifteen Christian Lawyers who came for a meeting on Saturday, 9th of November, 2013, in such a short notice, were all of one voice that violence and attacks on minority Christian community will not be of any benefit to Pakistan. Peace is the only way for the development and welfare of the people of Pakistan. They also expressed in various ways that building peace and friendship with India will only help Pakistan to make good progress. Enmity and war will not do any good, but will only do lot of damage to the nation. Hence they proposed to make every effort for building peace in different levels, especially to begin with one’s own family and also to uphold truth by shedding prejudices against India in order to build peace and to strengthen the relationship between the two countries. They promised to do everything possible within their limit to build bridges to connect one another breaking different walls of separation, so that peace and friendship may be established in the region. They also supported the plan of forming a human chain from Pakistan which will go to the Waga Indo-Pak border on the International Day of Peace, 21st September, 2014, in order to join hand with the human chain which will be formed from Indian side.
A group of 22 members of ‘Christian Youth Development Movement’ came together on 10th of November, to pray for the persecuted Christians all over the world, especially in India. Though a small group, yet it was very edifying to see their concern and love for India. They were also convinced about the need of promoting peace and harmony in the Society and especially to build peace and friendship with India. They assured me of their full support to the movement and also of their prayers for establishing peace between the two countries.
So far my work there in Pakistan was limited mainly, though not exclusively, to reliable Pakistani Christians, encouraging them to take this movement beyond Christian circle. I do not know the people in Pakistan. Pakistani Christians will know the people there who can be taken into confidence in order to expand this movement. Because of the sensitivity of the work, one needs to be very cautious that this movement does not fall into any undesirable hand in its infancy itself. Pakistani citizens can expand this work in Pakistan, bringing in like minded good people irrespective of their religious or social affiliation.
Miss Sabina Rifat runs a women’s empowerment programme in a slum of Lahore where 20 young unemployed women were given training in stitching and embroidery. It was very revealing to see the influence she is exercising among the women of the locality. Over 30 women gathered in the Centre to whom I spoke about the need of promoting peace and harmony. Some of the young educated Muslim women also take very active participation in this programme. Miss Sabina is deeply committed to the work of empowering women and also to promote peace and to take ‘PAIFF’ ahead especially among women. Miss Sabina is the niece of late Bishop Joseph John who was shot on 6th May, 1998.
Though many people promised me to take me to Joseph’s Colony, finally it was Miss Sabina Rifat who took me there at last. As I was travelling to Joseph’s colony I understood why others were not very keen to take me to Joseph’s Colony which is situated in the steel hub of the industrial belt on the other end of Lahore. To reach Joseph’s colony, one has to go through the old city of Lahore which is so congested with human pull carts, horse carts and all sorts of other transport vehicles, it is very difficult to cross the crowded and congested streets of old city that one would think twice before going there. My visit to Joseph Colony was very rewarding and fulfilling. 178 Christian houses in the colony were all burnt completely. People managed to save themselves. Since all the buildings are made of bricks and concrete roof, the people lost only their belongings. The assailants threw chemicals on the roof and the walls of the buildings and set them all on fire. Though the reason for such a destructive action was a false accusation of ‘blasphemy’, however, behind it all seem to be greediness of the industrialists who wanted to scare the residents of the colony and to chase them out so that the industrialists could grab nearly 25+ acres of prime land belonging to Christians which will cost several hundreds of millions of rupees! Though the people lost everything, they refused to leave the place. After the fire was put off, the owners came back to occupy their burnt houses. In the name of rehabilitating and compensating the loss, the government officers painted most of the houses hiding the burnt mark of ashes and smoke. There is a small catholic church building situated in the colony which was apparently repaired and the Chief Minister of Punjab of Pakistan inaugurated it placing a big marble stone on the wall declaring that it was rehabilitated by the CM. The colony consisted of Catholics who form a majority and some seventh day Adventists. Mr. Hameed Chirag who is a Christian and a small industrialist, showed me his motor cycle which was completely burnt down. He also told me that he had currency notes worth more than a million rupees which was completely burnt down to ashes. After that incident his brother, who went there to meet Mr. Hameed Chirag, seeing such a huge amount of cash completely reduced to ash, got heart attack and died.
In the narrow lane of Joseph Colony there is one person running a shop under a cloth sheet. Apparently, he had a good shop which was completely burned down and now he is selling things on the road. Another person, Mr. Nawaz Inayat, also a Christian, who was working in Dubai and earning good money, gave up his Dubai job and rushed back home, hearing that his house was burnt down. He is now unemployed. Similar many very painful stories were recalled by the residents of Joseph’s Colony with their final conclusion that ‘Christians have no future in Pakistan’.
Nearly 25 young men are getting their initial training to become priests in the local minor seminary of the Archdiocese of Lahore. All of them were very much interested in peace building programme. They asked me in what way they could help in this great work. They were asked to pray for peace and especially that there may be peace, friendship and understanding between Pakistan and India which they all agreed to do. Some of the seminarians gave letters addressed to seminarians here in India, encouraging them to become good priests and also requesting to pray for them. In Kauli, the Gurukul seminarians were very happy to receive those letters.
Many of the Sisters (nuns) who met me also showed interest in getting involved in the peace building work especially peace between India and Pakistan. They promised to pray for PAIFF. Prayer and very creative work will make this dream come true one day.
Sister Arsene Antony, SCJM took me to the office of Pakistan-India Peoples’ Forum for Peace and Democracy. The man in charge of it is Mr.Kamran Islam. They have been working on this for the past 20 years and this year they are having celebrations of 20 years’ service of Peace between India and Pakistan. They have their office in India too. They too were very happy to extend their collaboration and support.
The Dominican Fathers have a very well furnished ‘peace centre’ rather well established and situated in a posh area of Lahore. Fr.James Channan O.P., the Director of the Centre, took me around the Centre. I also spoke to the Dominican Community about the work of Pakistan And India Friendship Forum. The Dominican seminarians assured me of their prayers for the success of PAIFF. Fr.Channan is doing the work of Inter-Religious dialogue and ‘peace building’ in Lahore in a higher circle. Bahai Centre in Lahore was the other place I visited. Unfortunately there was no Bahai brethren there; only the watchman was there who is a Christian.
Visiting the local Cathedral of the Church of Pakistan on a Sunday for their communion service gave me an opportunity to speak to the congregation about the work of Pakistan And India Friendship Forum. They were very happy to welcome an Indian Priest. Rev. Emmanuel Khokhar, the Pastor of Central Cathedral of Praying Hands, along with his congregation of the Church of Pakistan assured me of their support to the movement.
Miss Sabina also took me to the wedding of a catholic boy. The people at the wedding considered my presence a special privilege. The bridegroom came riding on a decorated horse. In a symbolic welcome to the bridegroom, another horse was brought and it was made to dance in front of the bride groom. It seems to be a part of the culture of the place.
Besides all these, I visited five Pakistani Catholic families, three Pakistani protestant families and one Sri Lankan Catholic Family. All of them were thrilled to receive me and were very happy to know about the work of PAIFF which they are ready to support. Few others also wanted me to visit them which could be considered during my next visit to Pakistan. Christians in Pakistan are going through a very difficult time. Burning of Joseph’s Colony in Lahore in March 2013, bomb blast in the church of Peshawar in September 2013, false accusations of individuals of blasphemy and the other small attacks on Christian community should not be seen as isolated incidents. In October 2013 the government strengthened the security given to the catholic cathedral and to Archbishop’s House in Lahore because of a threat to attack on Christians’ buildings. The ‘blasphemy law’ is a sword hanging above the head of every Christian in Pakistan. The incidents of false accusations of ‘blasphemy’ leading the accused innocent persons to jail and later to the gallows, are not few. Extremists are out to murder one of the well educated and well placed catholic youth leader, just because he organized young Christian boys and girls to help the victims of Joseph Colony after it was burnt in March 2013. His was a very sad and depressing sorry to hear. Fear on the Christian faces is very visible. Such a situation is not healthy either for the Majority Muslims or for the minority, non-muslims, irrespective of religious affiliation. Hence peace building in Pakistan as well as with India is a need not only for Christian Community, but for the entire People of Pakistan as well as for the Humanity at large.
There are several groups who are interested in building peace between India and Pakistan. Many small groups are actively engaged in such work; many others would welcome such a movement and support it directly or at least indirectly through prayer and so on, though they may not play a very active role for fear of the extremists. They all say that they want peace; that peace and friendship between India and Pakistan should be established. Till date I have not come across even one person who is either against this movement or is not for it. It all shows that this is an urgent need and every one is anxiously looking for such a movement to grow and to become effective. One of the great role we can play in such situation, is to be a catalyst by net working among all the like minded people, movements and organizations, thus becoming an effective agent of peace and friendship.
One of the concrete plan which has been proposed is to organize two human chains: One from Pakistan and the other from India and both come together, joining hands at the international border to form one human chain on the International Day of Peace, on 21st September, 2014. The Lawyers of Lahore have promised their full support and co-operation to realize this plan and to make it a great success. It was also proposed that the media should be contacted well in advance and this event should be given a wide publicity. This will strengthen our peace building work.
In general my visit to Pakistan was very fruitful and fulfilling. Many were asking me when I would visit them again and I also anxiously look forward to my next visit to Pakistan, hoping to visit many more places beyond Lahore, like Sialkot, Kasur, Gujjranwala and so on. Meanwhile, I continue getting many phone calls and e-mails from Pakistan either to inquire about some of their relatives or to promise their support or to inquire about the progress of the work and to seek some advice. I would like to conclude this report expressing my immense sense of gratitude to the God the Father and His Son Jesus Christ along with His Mother Mary for giving me such a wonderful opportunity. I also thank the Jesuit Community of Lahore : Fr.Zecchin Renato the Superior, Br.Kevin the Minister, Fr.Maria Antony the Director of Candidates and Fr.Imran John the only Pakistani Jesuit priest who is the Director of the schools, who are doing wonderful work in very challenging circumstances. All of them and many others went out of their way to help, which made this movement effective and successful. To all of them my great appreciation and immense gratitude. God bless them all.
(iii)Study and Reflection. As an Indian I have to be very careful because my working in Pakistan can be misinterpreted as an interference in the internal affairs of Pakistan, which may make the movement of PAIFF ineffective. Hence what is being done is to form groups of ‘Friends of India in Pakistan’ who would work in Pakistan for promoting peace, friendship and harmony among Pakistani nationals and slowly contact similar movements active in India. Similarly we need to form ‘Friends of Pakistan in India’ who will work in India to promote ‘peace building and friendship with the people of Pakistan’. After making such plat forms in both the countries, at the opportune time, people of both the countries should stand up demanding their respective government to shed inimical attitude and to follow constructive measures to promote peace and friendship between the two neighbours. This is the right of the people, not a ‘tofa’ (gift) from the politicians. The reality one needs to keep in mind while taking this movement ahead is the famous saying of Napoleon the Great: “The world suffers today, not from the violence of bad people, but from the silence of good people”, hence the need of making the dormant, silent majority wake up and to speak up for ‘peace and friendship’. If the ‘silent’ majority of Peace loving ‘good’ people of both the nations are activated and made aware of their right to live in ‘peace’ they can refrain the politicians taking undue advantage and can stop both the Governments fighting with each other and can also make those involved in violence understand that violence will not do any good to either of us but will do lot of harm to both and to persuade them to invest atleast a part of what is spent on arms for development. Even if we succeed to help the government to reduce the national budget for ‘buying arms’ by 5% and to spend that amount for development, both the countries will benefit a lot. It will also help Pakistan to be stable. A stable Pakistan is necessary for establishing ‘peace’ in the region.
While working on such a difficult mission , what needs to be kept in mind is that people have different back grounds, different attitudes, outlooks, upbringing and temperaments. Accordingly their response also will differ. They may be characterized as: (1) There is a very small number of people who are far sighted, having a vision and dreams who are ready to venture out, taking lot of risks, in order to realize their vision and to turn their dreams into realities in order to make this world a better place to live. (2) There is another small group of people who have some vision and dreams, but are not ready to take risks to realize their visions and dreams, but are ready to join in, and give direct support to those taking initiatives, by getting involved with the people of similar visions and dreams. (3) There is a third group of people who may have their own vision and dreams, but are afraid to do anything to follow their vision and dreams or to come out public, but are ready to give indirect support by giving encouragements and suggestions and advices. (4)There is the fourth group who have no vision at all, nor do they have any dream, but ready to follow the vision and dreams of others by active participation in the movement. (5) There is the fifth, quite a large group, who will approve such a good movement and will also give indirect support from far. (6) There is the sixth ‘indifferent’ group who may ‘tolerate’ such a movement. (7) There is the seventh group, which is a very small one, who is clearly against the movement of PAIFF, but will not do anything to stop it. (8) There is the eighth group which is a much smaller group who will oppose this movement, using violent means to stop it, like the ‘Taliban’. While working in such a movement as PAIFF, one needs guts to move ahead ignoring the possible dangers arising from 8th and also the 7th groups and should manifest magnanimity and broad mindedness to carry along the 3rd, 4th, 5th and the 6th groups, by making adjustments for them for the sake of the mission and to accept them as equal partners and to inspire the 1st and the 2nd groups to give up some of one’s own ideas and methodologies in order to achieve the goal and to turn the vision and dreams into realities which may demand considerable amount of sacrifices and preparedness to make changes in our own way of functioning and readiness to face short term failures and criticisms. This is what I am working on at the moment to identify and encourage people belonging to 1st and 2nd group. There is the 9th group who will take undue advantage of this movement for their own vested interest. They would pretend to be partners or benefactors in this ‘peace movement’ but are not really interested in the mission at all, but are keen to use this movement to achieve their own vested interest. They will only exploit the movement. All that we can do about them is to be cautious and to keep away from them. My experience teaches me that if we go fighting them or trying to expose them, we will only waste our precious time, because normally they are powerful people.
I have been reading a book called ‘I AM MALALA’. I also came across an article in Indian Express of Saturday, January, 4th, 2014, written by Mr.Khaled Ahmed who is a consulting editor with ‘Newsweek Pakistan’. This article as well as the book ‘I AM MALALA’ gave me lot of insight. The first reality I came to know from these is that all that is being done in the name of Islam, is not Islam. False accusation and persecution of the minority community is no religion but it is rather fundamentalism which is ‘contra’ Islam, and there are courageous people who take a stand against it. On the one hand when one looks at it, it is depressing and see no hope because it keeps growing. On the other hand it is consoling to note that there is an awakening among some people who do raise their voice against fundamentalism however small this group may be. Such awakened people need to be encouraged and supported in order to strengthen them as well as to work with and through them. They are the ‘HOPE’. It is consoling that irrespective of caste or creed, people are coming up to join and to support this challenging, but noble ‘Peace Mission’. May their tribe grow.
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