Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Building Bridges across Faiths for World Peace

By Shad Begum[1]

Inter-faith harmony, religious tolerance and mutual understanding across faiths and nations were never so much the need of the hour as it is today. All religions of the world are inspired by divine wisdom. All of them strive for a high moral world built by peace, mutual respects, and the dignity of human beings. Unfortunately, some hate mongers; biased individuals and intolerant groups have used religions for their own narrow and selfish interests around the globe. This has lead to stereotypes and demonization of certain religions in the world. To create a better understanding of religious faiths around the globe, World Alliance for Religions Peace Summit organized by Heavenly Cultural World Peace Restoration of Light (HWPL), International Women’s Peace Group (IWPG) and International Peace Youth Group (IPYG) jointly from 17th to 19th September 2014 in South Korea.  All the credit goes to the leadership of Mr. Man Hee Lee, a Korean War veteran and renowned peace advocate, founded the organization after his involvement with numerous volunteer associations, seeing the need for a group whose central focus was to unite the people of the world behind the goal of peace irrespective of any apparent differences among themselves. Equally accredited is Ms. Nam Hee Kim Chairwoman of IWPG. The IWPG has been established with a purpose to protect the youth from war and achieving the cessation of war and world peace.

Participants from Asia, Africa, America, and Europe included former heads of states, dignitaries and prominent achievers in their own countries in promoting religious tolerance and peace.  It was amazing to see events participated by hundreds of thousands of people with outstanding discipline and meticulous attention to details. All the credit goes to the organizers and volunteers who mad this big event a huge success.

The first day was marked by reception and opening of the event in the Jamsil Main Stadium of Seoul South Korea. Renowned religious leaders from different religions of the world talked about religious harmony in the context of global peace and signed a pledge to promote interfaith harmony and mutual understanding among nations and faiths for world peace.

For me personally the most inspiring occasion was to see women leaders from different countries, regions and nations coming together to join hands and promote the role of women for world peace as in majority cases the women and children are the worst affects of wars and conflicts around the globe. These women peace builders came from regions of conflicts and wars and had unique experiences in contributing to building peace in their own countries and communities. It was a great learning experience to listen to and share experiences of situations and different conflict contexts. But this is rather sad to say that despite all the differences in cultures and countries which are hit by wars and conflicts has one thing in common i.e. women and children and other innocent civilians happen to be the worst victims. Even worst, women remain excluded from all peace negotiations between combatants in all conflict and war regions. This is also the case in our country and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and FATA region where no single women has been a part of any peace committee or negotiations. Women peace builders of a world sign a pledge to work for the cessation of all wars and bring peace, to save our children from war and violence in future. Women leaders also made a commitment to unite all women across the world and to prevent the outbreaks and onset of wars.

I felt humbled and considered it a great privilege and honor for my country and people to be appointed as member of the Advisory Board and Expert Group of IWPG.     

Participants from different countries and regions who had no info or less understanding of the situation in our country appreciated the efforts and sacrifices of the citizens of Pakistan and peace builders. 

For the last thirteen years Pakistani people and its security forces have paid dearly in terms of precious human lives and resources to counter the menace of violent religious zealots. Millions of Pakhtuns have been displaced from their homes from the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province. As during the Swat-Malakand displacement in 2009, now almost 1.2 million tribal men and women from FATA are displaced from their homes living in extremely deplorable conditions. Again women and children among these IDPs are the worst sufferers. To be a member of the Advisory Board and Expert Group of IWPG, I want to present the soft image of Pakistan and highlight the sacrifices of Pakistanis for peace.

Inheritors and practitioners of Buddha’s teachings, the South Korean people exude in aura around their personalities.  Their positive energies and sincere smiles are contagious. The extra ordinary care and hospitality that the Korean volunteers expressed towards all the guests, since arrival on the airport till departure, reminded me that the proverbial Pakhtun hospitality has even great competitors, at least in the East.  The good impressions about South Korea and its people will always remain a cherished memory for my self.

Mr. Man Hee Lee, a Korean War veteran and renowned peace advocate, founded the organization after his involvement with numerous volunteer associations, seeing the need for a group whose central focus was to unite the people of the world behind the goal of peace irrespective of any apparent differences among themselves.









[1] Shad Begum is a human rights activist from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Pakistan and a recipient of international women of courage awards.

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