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LAHORE: The International Peace Conference jointly organised by the World Punjabi Congress and International Sufi Council has started in the provincial metropolis here.

Thirty five high-profile delegates from India and 15 from 10 other countries are participating in the conference.

It was inaugurated by the Palestinian writer and former cultural advisor to Yasser Arafat, Dr Hannan Awaad, said a handout here on Sunday.

World Punjab Congress Chairman Fakhar Zaman said there could not be a more appropriate person to inaugurate the conference on peace than someone from an area of strife, Palestine, which was in quest of peace for the last six decades.

Mr Zaman said this was a purely private funded event because the organisers never liked to make it an event of the establishment.

Dr Awaad, with tearful eyes, said it was her dream to come to Pakistan and see the great city of Lahore. She said that despite all the oppression and suppression and the indifference of international peace forums, Palestinians’ struggle for independence would continue.

Novelist Abdullah Hussain appreciated the World Punjabi Congress, saying writers were the harbinger of peace.

Mr. Pran Nevile from India, authored of an important book on Lahore, said there was need for peace between India and Pakistan.

Dr Deepak Manmohan emphasised the need for arranging more cultural and literary exchanges between India and Pakistan for promoting amity between the two neighbours.

Mr Gino Leineweber from Germany and Ms. Dalia Staponkute from Lithuania praised the holding of such a big peace conference in view of the growing political tensions in different regions of the world.

They also said that they had fallen in love with Lahore and would visit the city again.

The Ukrainian delegation, comprised the greatest poet of Ukraine, Ihor Pavlyuk, and two other renowned scholars.

They presented papers on the need of peace in the present geo-political situations and recited their poems.

Asad Mufty from Holland said he would try to hold the next peace conference in Holland because such peace conferences should also be held in Europe.

Dr Vanita from Delhi, Sarwat Mohyiuddin, Gurbhajan Gill, Anil Thakar, Naresh Nadeem, Siraj Mehdi Naqvik, journalist from Roznama Rashtriya Sahara, Sukhinder Singh from Canada, Khalid Hussain from Jammu, Mangat Sehajpreet Sing, Nand Kishore Vikram, Dr Najma Rehmani from Delhi University, Saeedullah Chaudhry and Dr Abdal Bela emphasized the need for relaxation of visas and frequent exchanges of scholars, writers and artists between India and Pakistan.

Winding up the discussions, Fakhar Zaman said that the conference would further Pak-India peace efforts.

Monday (today) is the last day of the moot and discussions will be held and papers will be read on ‘United Nations and Peace, Women and Peace, Languages and Peace, Human Rights and Peace’ and ‘Sufism and Peace.’

A Lahore declaration will be adopted at the conclusion of the conference.