Lahore: Religious leaders speak for peace and inter-faith harmony in Pakistan at Christmas.
A Christmas get-together was organized by Council for Interfaith Dialogue (CIFD) at Avari Hotel. While attending the event Fr. Inayat Bernard said: We are happy today because all the religious representatives are gathered at one place. Fr. Inayat Bernard is the Director of CIFD added: Our council is not a NGO but composed of members of the civil society of Muslims, Hindus, Sikhs and Christians. The council caries on to organize programs on religious occasions of these four religious and plans different seminars, press conferences and worships to create an atmosphere of mutual respect in order to live and let live. The purpose of council is to work for peace and hope for a tolerant and bright Pakistan.
Additionally, Archbishop Sebastian Francis Shaw OFM of Lahore while addressing the assembly of around 300 guests including Hindus, Sikhs, Muslims and Christians said: We all are happy while Herod was afraid at the birth of Jesus since he was not willing to have dialogue with the others. The effect of the dialogue among ourselves is to bring us close to one another and we become fearless because we are united in the faith in one God. He added: Our land is very fertile for dialogue and we believe in the merciful God who gives hope and energy to live together. It is beautiful that the voice of daily Azan at five times, church bells and worshipers in the Hindu temples and Sikh gurdawaras and the prayers for peace from religious worship places will bring good atmosphere in the country. He concluded his speech by saying: The small light has to go on because it ends the darkness in hearts and each one’s life and brings hope for peace around us. He wished that such programs will bring understanding among ourselves and we will be able to make our country a peaceful place to live.
Sardar Gernail Sing a Sikh guest said: My kids long for the celebration of Christmas and were asking when to go to any of this kind of program. He added: we have lived together for many centuries and in the past year these walls have separated us and we have to tell our children to come close to each and have to light the small lights in our surroundings. By bringing our kids together we can make our country a peaceful place to live.
Bhagat Lal a Hindu guest said: It is a good tradition that during past years we call one another on our solemn occasions of our religions. The Muslim feasts, Christian’s Christmas, Hindi diwali and Sikhs festivals are bringing us close to each other. We are all Pakistanis and we want peace in our homeland.
Ms. Shabnam Nagi a Muslim guest said:The council has arranged a bouquet of different faiths and each has got its own fragrance and specialty. We worked for an independent country and we will continue to work together at all times.
Mufti Muhammad Ashiq Hussain, head of the local madrisa arranged for his students to distributed flowers to all the participants at this occasion. He wished Merry Christmas to the Christian participants and expressing hope: such gatherings will help all Pakistanis to grow in respect of each one and rebuild a prosperous and respectful Pakistan.
Sohail Ahmed Raza a young representative of the Minhaj-ul-Quran wished the Christians around the world and of Pakistan and viewed year 2014 to be the year of lasting peace in Pakistan.
Pir Shafat Rasool, the head of Bilal Markis said: The religious leaders have not to make the religion as the cause to close the street of dialogue but learn from the mystics of the soil who go beyond their religious alliance and talk about humanity to be practiced. The birth of Jesus Christ is accepted by all the religions present in the country and if we wish we can easily make our country a peaceful place. We have to bring peace in our hearts and minds not only through words but through our good acts”.