Festival promotes love, music for peace

Published September 24, 2022
— Photos by Tanveer Shahzad
— Photos by Tanveer Shahzad

ISLAMABAD: With the message that peace is happiness, Pakistan Institute for Peace Studies (PIPS) has invited everyone to embrace love and music as it celebrated the Pakistan Peace Festival.

All about tranquility and harmony, the festival featured poetry, an art exhibition and a concert. It was organised at the Pakistan National Council of the Arts (PNCA).

Political and rights activist Jalila Haider won the first-ever ‘Pakistan Peace Award’ for her work and contribution towards bringing tolerance and sustainable peace in the country.

Adviser to Prime Minister on Kashmir Affairs and Gilgit-Baltistan Qamar Zaman Kaira was the chief guest at ceremonies for the ‘Pakistan Peace Prize Award’ and launch of the ‘Charter of Peace’.

Lawmakers, academicians, former diplomats, retired army officers, journalists, rights activists and representatives of civil society participated in the event besides others. The other key events at the festival included an art exhibition, live theatre, a concert, a poster competition and cultural dance performance.

The Peace Award was an initiative by PIPS to acknowledge the contribution of Pakistani civil society in peace building, peacemaking, and de-radicalisation through their works in varied fields. The work included educating people through their writings or research, bringing social justice and prosperity, and advocating for gender, ethnic or racial equality.

Ms Haider won the award after a tough scrutiny from among 10 contestants by jury including chairperson of the Council of Islamic Ideology Dr Qibla Ayaz and chairperson of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) Hina Jilani besides others.

Jalila is a human rights attorney and founder of ‘We the Humans – Pakistan’, a non-profit organisation, which works towards lifting local communities by strengthening opportunities for vulnerable women and children.

After receiving the award, Ms Haider announced to donate the award money to flood victims.

Adviser to the PM Qamar Zaman Kaira, speaking at the event, said that the dream of the country being a “state like a mother” had yet to come true. He emphasised on the need for collective efforts to bring peace and tolerance in society. “There are many people in the society who support values of peace and tolerance but their voices are not reflected in the mainstream,” he said.

Mr Kaira underlined that the people with intolerant behaviour had a representation in this class-based society. “We have yet to cover a new and long journey to bring peace and tolerance in society,” he said, adding that they would have to fight against their own behaviours.

The adviser said that the society was still divided into ethnicities, sects and caste-based systems and the state, in the past, unfortunately used these divisions as a tool. He concluded that people would have to adopt the way that was espoused by the civilised world to bring sustainable peace in the society.

Ms Jilani in her remarks said that the importance of the Peace Award was that it was going to give recognition to the efforts of civil society activists. “Democracy is not the name of only the right to representation and election, it comes with a package of values,” she added.

Earlier, PIPS Director Mohammad Amir Rana, in his earlier remarks said that violence was the biggest challenge Pakistan was facing today and the purpose of the launch of the ‘Charter of Peace’ was to make efforts towards countering violent behaviours prevalent in the society and promote peace and tolerance. “We aim to keep this award an annual activity to be announced each year around International Peace Day, celebrated on Sept 21,” he said while talking about the Peace Award.

Published in Dawn, September 24th, 2022

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