Multan: A seminar on “Religious and Social Festivities” was held at Hotel-First in Multan under the auspices of Media Foundation 360 on 18 November 2019. Journalists from print and electronic media, lawyers, Human Rights Activists, students, members of civil society in general, and NGOs and partners of the donor attended the seminar.
The proceedings of the seminar started, after which Hasnain Tirmazi, Communication Officer, MF360 welcomed the participants to the event. He appreciated them for sparing their precious time and energies for the noble cause of promoting peace in society and removing distances between different religious communities of the country. This was followed by a brief round of introduction. Hasnain Tirmazi and the other participants introduced themselves one by one referring to the institutions, fraternities and the organizations they were representing.
After the round of Introduction, Mubasher Bukhari, President MF360, briefed the participants about the project, its rationale, objectives and components and encouraged them to play their role in whatever way they could to promote peace and interfaith harmony in the society. He said Multan was a historic city and had hosted followers of different religions living there for ages. The religious and social festivities in Multan (South Punjab), he said, add beauty and colour to the social fabric of the region and must be joined by the followers of different religions to promote acceptance and religious harmony.
Mr. Muhammad Jamil from Taraqqi Pasand Organisation and Mr. Zahid Iqbal from Sujhal Savel Farmers’ Association participated in the seminar on behalf of partner organizations and shared the details of their respective projects, success stories, challenges faced during the executions of their respective projects and their overall impacts.
Zafar Iqbal told the audience that his organization had been working on these lines for a long time and familiarizing people with the concept of safe charity. He said they had executed their plans in a structured way and conveyed it to the people in their project areas that carelessly doled out charity could do more harm than good. Zafar said people ultimately agreed that it was quite possible that the charity money falling in the hands of unscrupulous elements could be used for wrong purposes like in acts of terrorism.
Zafar shared they had convinced people to use charity money including Ushr, Zakat and Fitra in non-traditional ways for the benefit of people. For example, he said, the charity money in their project area was used to buy and distribute sewing machines among deserving women, repair a street where rain and sewage water would accumulate and fix leakage in the roof of a local school.
Muhammad Jamil said his organization engaged women in their activities because they believed it was not possible to get desired results without their active participation. He said when their women workers would go to different houses to meet women and give them the message of peace they would say they were already living in peace and did not their advice. But when told what peace actually means and how it could be ensured at community level they became attentive.
He said creating awareness about safe charity among women was imperative because many a time these are the women who attend people coming at their doorstep to get charity. The women, he said, were told that they must give charity to the people from their families or neighbourhoods who were really needy and avoid giving it to strangers.
Zahid Iqbal shared that they worked directly with the farmers and divided them into groups. The farmers, he said, were told that they must check the credentials of the people approaching them to get charity, either in the form of cash or kind.
He said quite often farmers would not bother to investigate who these people were and helped them out right away but after interacting with the project team they had become careful.
Zahid told the audience that initially there were several challenges that they had to face. The farmers would ask them to mind their own business and avoid lecturing them. But when they explained them the consequences of unsafe charity, including the possibility of use of their charity money in acts of terrorism, they started taking them seriously. Today the credentials of those seeking charity are checked by the community at union council level where a collective charity fund has also been established, he adds.
Former MNA and PPPP leader Syed Ali Musa Gilani said Multan was a city of saints who had spread the message of love for humanity regardless of religion, caste and creed and this tradition should be carried forward. He appreciated the role of different civil society organisations in promoting peace and harmony in the society through their good work and called for scaling up of these initiatives.
He extended his support in whatever way possible to the cause and said he was always available to the project team, partner organisations and the beneficiaries of the journalists’ training programme.
Towards the end of his speech, he told the audience that the human rights ministry was formed at the federal level by none other than the PPPP government. Today, the ministry is working all over the country and entities like the European Union (UN) have shown the willingness to enhance the capacity of its staff. This is a proof of the fact that PPPP as party holds human rights supreme in its agenda and can go a long way to protect these.
Hasnain Tirmazi, Communication Officer, Media Foundation 360 thanked the participants for sparing their time and attending the event with utmost attention. He hoped they would take the messages of peace shared at the event along and spread these among the public at large. He said no nation can think of progressing and meeting challenges coming its way without establishing an environment of peace, harmony, social justice, mutual respect and social inclusion.