International Day of Peace,2023 21 September,2023 Peace Center organized the UN International Day of Peace ,2023 with the theme of “ACTIONS FOR PEACE”. In this conference believers of different religions; Christianity, Islam and Sikhism participated at Peace Center Lahore, Pakistan. In this event Fr. Pascal Paulus OP Prior Vice Provincial, Dominican Order Pakistan was the Chief Guest. Fr James Channan OP, Director Peace Center, was the organizer this grand interreligious event. This year the International Day of Peace focused on the theme of “Actions for Peace” and how the 17 Sustainable Development Goals are essential to preventing conflict and working for the development of the people on earth where there is no hunger, no poverty, no illiteracy and no discrimination in the name of gender and that all lives on earth and under water are protected. And that there is justice for all and peace is promoted in the society.  All participants expressed deep sorrow at the mob violence against Christians in Jaranwala in which 26 Churches and 86 houses were burnt on religiously motivated violence by the charged mob of militant Muslims on 16th of August, 2023. This tragic attack created a great panic and sense of insecurity and fear among the vulnerable Christians in Pakistan.

All speakers gave references from the Holy Books; Holy Bible, Holy Quran and Guru Granth Sahib as well as founders of these religions on peace, harmony and respect for all human beings. All condemned mob violence against Christians in Jaranwala where Religiously motivated violence by a few Muslim vigilantes attacked and burnt Christian churches and houses. Pakistan. The program started with interfaith prayers from Christians, Muslims and Sikh faiths.

Fr. James Channan OP welcomed the guests and talked about the theme of International Day of Peace “Action for Peace”. He said that every year in Pakistan, our Peace Center organizes the program on International Day of Peace at the Peace Center, in which people of different religions are invited and this day we celebrate according to the theme of United Nations. It is celebrated all over the world, and this year we will take steps in action for peace. Today on the occasion of International Day of Peace, we strongly condemn the Jaranwala tragedy.

History testifies that there have been 16 such incidents of mob violence before Jaranwala and unfortunately no one has been punished. There is no such example in the world and no religion in the world teaches such teachings. This is on-going confrontation and struggle between darkness and light and we have to keep the candle of peace and love lit at all times and put our religious teachings into practice.  Many of our Muslim friends and scholars went to Jaranwala and offered consolation to the affected pastors, priests and affected Christian families and strongly condemned this incident and demanded justice and to punish the criminals. Fr James Channan OP said that we are grateful  to the Prime Minister of Pakistan, Mr. Anwarul Haq Kakar,  Chief minister of the Punjab, Mr. Mohsin Naqvi, Chief of Army Staff, General Asif Munir,  Ameer of Jamat-E- Islami, Mr Saraj ul Haq,  and many  other prominent Muslim Ulama  such as Grand Imam of the Badshahi Mosque,  Maulana Abdul Khabir Azad, Grand Imam of Faisal Mosque in Islamabad, Dr. Muhammad Ilyas and many other religious leaders  who visited Jaranwala and consoled suffering Christian. We are also expressed our gratitude to Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Pakistan, Justice Fiaz Isa who visited and expressed his sorrow at this tragic event. He also thanked to Chief of Army Staff, Hafiz Asim Munir because he assured that justice will be done and culprits punished. Justice Isa assured that justice will be done and culprits punished

Fr. Pascal Paulus OP, Prior Vice Provincial, Dominican Order, Pakistan shared his views that Jesus Christ gave the teaching of Love and Forgiveness. Love you neighbour as love yourself and we should see that who is my neighbour. Always we say that we love to Lord and we love humanity but if we see our actions, we see that very often we are not acting on our religious teachings of love and respect as we hate and discriminate people in the name of religion. All the religions teach peace, love, tolerance, acceptance, unity and justice then why we are going against the teaching of our religions. Here in this present situation, I want to ask you that as Pakistani nation how we can take actions to promote peace, love, interfaith harmony and justice. Christian in Pakistan have strong faith in the Holy books and they cannot think the desecration of holy book of Muslims the Quran because they know about the blasphemy laws in Pakistan and its punishment. With this today I want to say that I am not Favor of National Minority Day because we are not minority, we are Pakistani we are Pakistan nation.  This is our right that as Pakistani nation we should give equal rights, opportunities and religious freedom. We strongly condemn the incident of Jaranwala but with it we know that this is not the teaching of Holy Quran and which people did this action and burnt the Christian houses and churches they are not aware the teachings of Holy Quran.  This is truth that after the lawlessness, fear and terror happened with Christians in Jaranwala and as Christians we are in fear and we are not safe our religious places our houses and properties are not secure in Pakistan. By birth we are Pakistani and we are playing a positive role for the prosperity of Pakistan and we scarified for Pakistan and our lives for Pakistan. You are all from different religions but together you are working for the promotion of peace and interfaith harmony among the religions in Pakistan. I appreciate the services of all of you for better and bright Pakistan. We should see that as individual what is my role in the promotion of peace and interfaith harmony because this is very important.

Mufti Syed Ashiq Hussain said that I am very thankful to Fr. James Channan OP and I am so much impressed with his services for peace and interfaith harmony among the different religions in Pakistan. In the Holy Bible we look that Jesus Christ is the Prince of Peace and in the incident of Jaranwala I looked in the visit of Jaranwala that Christian people are aware about the teachings of Jesus Christ. They are demanding for peace and Justice in the incident of Jaranwala they were in peace they did not block the road, burnt the shops and public property and through legal process they raised their voice for justice to Prime Minister Chief Minister of Punjab and Chief Justice of Pakistan. As religious Muslim leaders and Imam of mosque I strongly condemn the incident of Jaranwala and I offer condolences to Christian community. I have gone four times in Jaranwala. Islam is the religions of Peace and our religion give the teaching of love not hate from the people of other religions. Those Muslims were involved in this incident they are unaware about the teaching of Holy Quran and as Muslim I request to forgiveness to Christian. Christians are playing a positive role in the development of Pakistan and big number of Muslims are getting education from their institutions. In our national curriculum respect should be all four religions and the students know about the teaching of other religions in Pakistan.

Sardar Sikandar Singh, a Sikh leader, said that this is the beauty of Pakistan that we have people of different religions, faith and cultures.  Minorities of Pakistan we are facing many issues and difficult because we are Hindus, Sikhs and Christians and by the name of religions we have to face discrimination, hate, fanaticism and religious violence by the people of majority religion in Pakistan. We need to become a one nation as Pakistani and together we should promote peace and interfaith harmony in Pakistan. Minorities of Pakistan always show the bright face of Pakistan to the world. This is the responsibility of State that minority and majority should be treated with equal opportunity and rights. We are raising our voice on different national and international forums but our political leadership, media and state of Pakistan should also play their imperative role for the betterment of Pakistan and its soft image in the world.

Advocate Ishtiaq Chaudhary said that today peace is first and foremost need of the world and we as people of different religions should work for peace and interfaith harmony. I hear was shocked when I watched the news about the mob violence in Jaranwala incident on TV channels. I strongly condemn this act of violence against vulnerable Christian minority.  As the people of different religions, faiths and cultures we have same heart and blood and as human beings we are brothers and sisters. We raised our voices against this action of radicalism because this action promote hate and divide the unity among the Christians and Muslims in Pakistan.

This is the responsibility of the State to provide protection to all and State is like a mother and all people of different religions should be treated with equal rights and opportunities. State should work according to law and government should give punishment who were involved in this incident because this is very important if the State want to stop religious violence in Pakistan. As peace and interfaith harmony promoters we should become agents of peace and with devotion and commitment we have to work for peace and interfaith harmony if we want peace in Pakistan and the world. We should thing positive and work against the force of negative so please thing positively and act against negative thinking. If peace work in your personal life, then you can see the change in your family, in your society, in your country and the world.

Prof. Mehmood Guznavi shared that some people taking personally benefit from the religions and they are doing these activities among the religions because they want to divide the people of different religions in Pakistan. Lord is a great creator and we are all his family not only Muslim all the people of different religions and faiths are the good creation of Lord and the Lord love to all equally and he treat equally and bless to all human beings. Then why are fighting and hate to the people of different religions. The Lord said love with one another we hate other and we do against the message of Lord.

Syed Nou-Bahar Ali Shah said lord created this world for love and lovers and Lord not make this world for hate and wars. We strong condemn the incident of Jaranwala and we demand that the State of Pakistan to do justice to Christians in Jaranwala. Our national curriculum should be change and our new generation should take the education of love and hate to the other religions. In our national curriculum there must be respect and love for all religions and we should promote the education of peace and interfaith harmony in our youth in Pakistan then we can change our society.

 Rev. Dr. Marqus Fida said that I congratulate to all of you because you are the people of love and peace and you are the promoters of peace and interfaith harmony among the different religions in Pakistan. Through this program on International Day of Peace you are all people from different religions you are giving the message of peace and respect to the world. And than you can look for peace in the society when people do not see justice in such incidents and they do not trust in judicial system. If the people are crying for justice they are demanding for equal rights and equal opportunities then you cannot look peace in the society. As peace force we should need to work for love and peace.

Allama Mustafa Chishti shared that in our society we should need to create awareness that any person has no right to accuse the other people and we have no rights that we said that other holy books are wrong are right we should respect the other religions and the Holy books and the religious places of different religions in Pakistan. For this better understanding among the people of different religions we should promote love and peace through our celebration, religious festival, celebration to national and international days, sharing the joys through our festivals and events.

Towards the end Fr. James Channan OP thanked to all respected speakers and all participants who made this event very meaningful and historic. All speakers gave inspiring and meaningful speeches. Fr. Akhtar Naveed OP offered the closing prayers.

Reported by:
Asher Nazir
Executive Secretary
Peace Center Lahore

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