HYDERABAD: Participants in a three-day workshop held here on Tuesday emphasised the need for ending ethnic and sectarian divide through writings.
The workshop on ‘Writers and artists on peace and harmony’ saw participants from Peshawar, Lahore and Multan come together on a common platform to work for the cause.
M. Prakash, president of the Minority Rights Commission, asked the young writers gathered to send a strong message in support of peace and harmony in society by harnessing the power of their pen. He said that artists and writers could play an effective role to help shun differences among different segments of society.
He said that Sindh always has had people belonging to different backgrounds living together who celebrate their religious days collectively to send a message of communal and sectarian harmony. However, for the last three decades the situation has changed and hatred is being promoted among people making them intolerant.
He called for legislation to protect religious minorities in Pakistan, urging them to iron out their differences.
Punhal Sario of Sindh Hari Porhiat Council talked about how the ruling parties play a negative role to promote hatred among people even though writers of Sindh have always spread the message of love. He said that figures like Shah Abdul Latif Bhittai, Sachal Sarmast and Sami worked hard to promote peace through their poetry.
Amar Sindhu, activist of Women Action Forum, said that creative writers are a symbol of change and young writers could bring change through their writings. She discussed problems faced by women and increasing intolerance in society.
The workshop was organised by the Sindh Community Foundation (SCF) in collaboration with United Nations Alliance of Civilisations (UNAOC)
SCF’s Javed Hussain discussed the proceedings of the three-day workshop and expressed the hope that young writers would carry a positive message to their respective provinces.
Women rights activist Miss Donia of Catholic Women Organisation (CWO) said that this group of writers and artists could contribute towards lessening hatred. She urged them to continue dialogue between the provinces and understand each other’s issues, creating a space for open dialogue.
Raj Kumar of Sindh University talked about the need for a platform to develop understanding among the youth of different provinces. He said that such interactions could help towards peace-building.
Syed Saqib Zaidi from Multan said that the situation in all provinces is similar with people facing different kinds of divisions. He said the young should advocate the promotion of sectarian harmony in Punjab. He was optimistic about the fact that these differences could end.
SCF also announced the establishment of a network, Young Artists’ Network for Peace, with 70 members from all over the country.
Published in Dawn, August 19th, 2015