Embassy of Pakistan In The Hague organized an event at the Hilton Hotel on 22 January 2017 titled "Inter Faith Harmony". A large number of Pakistan origin Dutch Nationals of Muslim, Christian and Hindu faiths, Dutch Parliamentarian Mr. Ahmed Marcouch, Resident diplomats including the Director General of the OPCW, Ambassador of Saudi Arabia, Ambassador of Iraq, Apostolic Nuncio, Charge d' Affaires of the US Embassy, Director Asia & Oceania of the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the CEO of Firesland Campina attended the event. The text of the speech delivered by Ambassador Iffat Imran Gardezi on the occassion is given below:
Bismillah ar-Rahman ar-Rahim
Mr. Ahmet Uzumcu, Director General OPCW
Mr. Roelof Joosten, CEO of Friesland Campina
Mr. Ahmed Marcouch, Member of Parliament
Mr. Aldo Cavalli, Apostolic Nuncio
H.E. Mr Abdulaziz Bin Abdullah Abohaimed
H.E. Saywan Barzani, Ambassador of Iraq
Mr. and Mrs. Shawn Crowley, Cd'A of USA
Mr. Peter Potman and Mrs. Ingrid d’ Hooghe
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I welcome and Thank you all for attending tonight’s event. It is a great pleasure for me to see you all present here. I would like to take this opportunity to wish all of you a belated Merry Christmas and a very Happy and Prosperous New Year.
Every year, Embassy of Pakistan arranges an event to celebrate Christmas with Dutch citizens of Pakistani origin who live in The Netherlands. But this time, we thought to expand the scope of this event and also invite followers of other religions too. In today’s world, there is much hatred being spread in the name of religions. Extremism, terrorism, and in-tolerance are increasingly becoming norms of many societies and parts of the world. All of this is being done in the name of different religions whose values teach us humanity and self-righteousness. While the majority of the world population abhors such acts, sometimes countries do not have the means to tackle such challenges effectively. So, while Governments around the world have come together to tackle such challenges, it is also necessary that people around the globe join hands too, to defeat the ideology of hate and promote interfaith harmony. It is through promotion of interfaith harmony that we can defeat the gloomy predictions of clash of civilizations.
As we know, people around the world follow different religions. But sometimes we forget that there is a lot in common in these religions. All religions of the world expect its followers to help the poor and the needy, tell the truth, help neighbour, do justice, be tolerant and respect the dignity and value of life. These are global human values which transcend any caste, religion or region. These values bind all human beings, and followers of different religions, together. It is therefore, of extreme importance, that we as followers of different religions promote those good common human values. We in our societies should not only be good to people who are in any way different from us, but should also accept to live peacefully with them. Because, at the end of the day, we are all human beings, and we have far more in common than what divides us.
Today’s event of Interfaith Harmony is an attempt to bring people of different faiths together and spread the message of love, compassion, tolerance and mutual and peaceful Co-existence.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Pakistan is a land of two hundred million of people. It is home to one of the oldest civilizations of the world, the Indus Valley and Gandhara Civilizations. It is a country which is the founding place of Budhist Religion. Pakistan is also the birth place of Sikh religion. For many centuries, Hinduism was the dominant religion of this region. And now, most of the citizens are followers of Islam.
The Message of Islam in the territories which are part of Pakistan, spread over the years through the work of Sufi Saints. These Sufis were the torch bearers and embodiment of love, peace, tolerance and controlling of one’s ego. The teachings of these Sufi Saints have immense imprint on Pakistan’s culture and its people’s outlook. Therefore, interfaith harmony is in the DNA of the people of Pakistan.
Pakistan is a country that believes in the unity and beauty of diversity. This event tonight itself is a testimony to the fact that we have gathered here as Pakistanis of various beliefs, casts and creeds. We have Christians and Sikh, and Hindus and Muslims and many others some of whom are present here to add colour and dignity to our event. I thank you all for being here with us to show solidarity to others who believe in religious diversity. For us Pakistanis, the religions unites us. There are numerous similarities in various religions specially the revealed religions like Islam, Christianity and Judaism. The foremost being the fact that all religions and their messengers were sent by God. God would not send contradictory messages to different people. There would though be differences due to the time and space of these religions. But all believe in one God, their own Prophet and their own Book. The last of God’s book, the Holy Quran spoke of all revealed Books and Prophets of all ages and bounds all Muslims to respect them. But there are the conspirators out there having malafide intentions. So, they focus only on differences to widen the rift and preach hatred and make the humanity hostage to their narrow mindedness and deprivations. Let’s think over this point. Let’s at least agree to respect each other through the teachings of Holy Books and of our Prophets to bridge the gap between religions and civilizations to avert the clash of religions and civilization which would in fact be clash of humanity.
But we can make a difference, each one of us, by joining hands to nullify the efforts of those who are getting impatient to push the world towards the Armageddon of Humanity.
So we all must work to avoid that happening. The Father of our Nation Mr. Muhammad Ali Jinnah in his first address to the constituent assembly said and I quote:
“You are free, you are free to go to your churches and temples, you are free to go your mosques or any other place of worship in this state of Pakistan. You may belong to any religion or cast or creed – that has nothing to do with the business of the state”.
The Father of our nation was following the tradition of our Prophet Muhammad (P.B.U.H) who preached a message of peace and harmony amongst all humanity.
The message from Prophet Muhammad (P.B.U.H) was one of unity, brotherhood, forgiveness and respect for humanity. These are the principles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights as well. Allah the Almighty, honoured all humanity in the Holy Quran by saying, “We have honoured the sons of Adam, provided them with transport on land and sea; given them for sustenance things good and pure; and conferred on them special favours, above a great part of Our creation”. (Al-Israa, 17: 70). Hence, all people have rights as human beings before Allah the Almighty.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Our world is rife with religious tensions, mistrust, dislike and hatred. These religious tensions can easily erupt into violence. They also facilitate the demonizing of the other which in turn predisposes public opinion to support war against peoples of other religions. Whereas religions should be a great foundation for facilitating world peace. The remedy for this problem can only come from the world’s religions themselves. Yet the forces inciting inter-religious tensions are better organized, better coordinated, more motivated and more ruthless. They have more stratagems, and garner more publicity so that they outweigh all the positive work done by various interfaith initiatives. The sad proof of this is that religious tensions are on the rise and not on the decline.
But I personally believe that if each one of does his/ her own bit to spread the message of inter faith harmony, we can collectively make a huge difference.
Let’s do it together.
Thank you all!