PDF engaged and mobilized 4,143 direct beneficiaries, including 1,744 (42%) females and 2,399 (58%) males (also further diversified as 2,278 Christians 1,545 Muslims, 239 Hindus, and 81 Sikhs) through different project interventions. Whereas at least an estimated 594,000 people from ten target locations of two districts Lahore and Faisalabad of Punjab were also reached through community based activities, especially those that carried out with Community Peace Groups – CPGs. The number of key persons includes; 7 chairpersons, 5 vice chairpersons and 13 councilors and 19 religious leaders were identified and taken on board in 10 Union Councils. These local key stakeholders are now active supporter for PDF interventions. Under the current scenario where due to strict conditions of government about the interventions by CSOs, and security concerns the presence and support by these key local stakeholder is critical in smooth running of the project activities at community level. PDF was able to win the ownership of the peace initiatives at local level by the political leadership, social activists and community members by proclaiming that PDF was actually assisting them in their own work. Besides, PDF successfully linked initiative with National Action Plan (NAP) on terrorism and protection of minorities by invoking respective sense of responsibility and role of the local political leadership being part of the government. PDF while working for peaceful co-existence was able to convey the broader message that as Pakistani citizens, our foremost duty is to deal with internal challenges including sorting out conflict among different faith groups and find resolutions for peaceful co-existence and to be able to fight terrorism that is biggest challenge that all Pakistanis are facing at present. On average, five persons from each selected union council total 48 participated (Christian 26, Muslim 22, male 32, female 16) in the capacity building trainings learnt with the help of an effective and well elaborated content on diverse issues including do no harm, climate change and environment, gender friendly legislation and safeguarding measures, Islam and minority rights, state structure: rights and participation of minorities, self-reflection: who am I, linked with constitution of Pakistan and the Universal Declaration on Human Rights (UDHR) was disseminated among the participants. It was an achievement in real terms when the participants started linking and sharing their own issues, roles and solutions around these issues. At the end of trainings, 10 Community Peace Groups (CPGs) were formed as local peace structures for conflict prevention, and peaceful resolutions of conflicts at community level. 10 CPG coordinators/social mobilizers were also appointed with mutual understanding of the participants. 10 Work plans for all 10 CPGs for the next four months (September 2016 to December 2016) were formulated after a thorough discussion among the respective members of CPGs. For the effective execution of their action plans, PDF has given commitment that its team will work with them during all their interventions at UC level.
Highlights of Major Activities
Joint Social Cultural and Religious Festivals
PDF has organized four joint social, cultural and religious festivals (Sep. 8, 29 & Dec.20, 28, 2016. The report of the Lahore festival was published in an international Magazine; www.thefire.com.pk. With the participation of people from ten union councils of Lahore and Faisalabad, these programs were attended by 527 community members in which 366 were male and 161 were females from multi-religious backgrounds (267 Christians, 242 Muslims, 17 Hindus and 01 Sikh). In these festivals diverse groups including; religious leaders, writers, poets, educationists, civil society representatives, grassroots communities from the all selected union councils, political activists and politicians made their participation. The purpose to conduct these festivals were to bring the multi-religious groups closer and to develop and strengthen harmonious society by taking such initiative to eliminate the giant of extremism and introduced the culture of peace by celebrating religious commonalities and understand faith based differences, to convey the message of mutual acceptance and respect. Moreover, religious leaders from all the faiths appreciated the step taken by PDF. The presence of religious and political leadership made the activity more substantial and meaningful. They promoted the messages of inclusive society and to live together in peaceful co-existence. Mufti Saif Ullah Khalid (Khateeb / Imam, Badshahi Mosque, Lahore) appreciated the initiative taken by the Christian community for holding a joint program to celebrate Christmas, Eid Milad-ul-Nadi and Quaid-e-Azam Day. He suggested that Muslims should also hold such events at religious places of minorities to show solidarity with them. By these activities PDF has built social relations between faith communities for nation building. In these events, cake cutting ceremonies were performed jointly by the religious leaders, writers and representatives of civil society. Awards, certificates and the medals were also distributed among the students and teachers for their remarkable achievements and contribution in academia and in extra curriculum activities.
Community Awareness Sessions
These sessions were attended by 231 participants, in which 123 were Christians and 108 were Muslims, among them 150 were male and 81 were female. PDF has taken an initiative to conduct series of 10 community awareness sessions with the Community Peace Groups (CPGs) and the influential of the area (religious leaders, politicians, lawyers, teachers, journalists and members of elected local government) in Lahore and Faisalabad from Oct. 27, 28, 29, 31 & Nov. 8, 9, 10, 11, and 2016. The initiative was carried out to articulate the need of joint efforts for the promotion of equal rights and inter-religious harmony at grassroots level. Faith communities were sensitized for living together in peaceful co-existence and to respond any untoward situation by peaceful intervention. The efforts yielded a number of success stories as peace intervention that were initiated by the community members and the CPG’s have shown the desired results in diverse situations. These success stories were also shared with the audience to muster up their courage to play their role for bringing about a peaceful and positive change in a diverse society.
Solidarity Visits of Social and Religious Actors to Religious Places
PDF has arranged two solidarity (exchange) visits in Faisalabad and Lahore district on October 30 (Nankana Sahib Gurdwara, Church and Mosque) and November 26 (Badshahi Mosque, Cathedral Church of Pakistan, National place Wagha Border) for representatives of faith communities includes; religious leaders, duty bearers, political workers, students, teachers and lawyers. In these visits 199 people from 10 focused union councils were participated, in which 97 were Christians and 102 were Muslims, among them 106 were male and 93 were female.
PDF focused this activity for nation building and to develop interfaith harmony among faith based communities to promote the culture of peace at grassroots level. PDF has broken the barriers and mitigated fears and misconceptions among diverse faith communities to enter in to each other’s worship places and about faith based questions. During visits participants were briefed clerics at each worship place about the faith concepts and questions were also responded by the clerics. Participants admired the step taken by the PDF and urged the need of such visits in future also. Many of the participants witnessed that they would multiply their learning and shared this experience in their networks and areas for bringing positive change and mitigating myths about different faiths. They were also view that we learned that all religions believe in one God. This is our religious commonality.
Meeting with Minority Women Rights Defenders (MWRD)
The meeting with Minorities Women Rights Defender Groups (MWRDs) were quite instrumental in understanding the impacts of the unique approach that was adopted to secure the rights of weak and marginalized communities in the society. The members of these groups were earlier made part of interactions and joint visits to worship places of different faith groups. This learning experience made the members of MWRG more aware about the teachings of different religions and hence, commonalities that could be used to bridge the gap between different communities. During the meeting, the members of the groups described that now they were able to initiate more effective engagement at different levels to ensure and secure the rights of weaker groups, especially, the rights of the minority women. These meetings were held on December 4 & 11 in Lahore and Faisalabad respectively,31 MRDs were participated, whereas 27 were female and 4 were males. The Christian and Muslim participants’ ratio was 20 and 11 respectively.
Roze TV Talk show Debate with Nasir Habib
PDF has arranged two Live Television Talk Shows ‘Debate with Nasir Habib’ these were hosted by Renowned TV anchor Nasir Habib on the occasions; ‘National Minority Day’ August 11, 2016 and ‘Quaid’s Birth Day’ December 25, 2016 on ROZE TV channel. The purpose to arrange the TV discussions were to highlight the vision of Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah that he declared that every citizen of Pakistan would be the equal citizen and shall enjoy the equal rights regardless of his/her identity, caste, race and religion without any discrimination.
Following messages were successfully delivered under advocacy through electronic media:
In the face of extremist narrative in media and otherwise in society, several critical points were raised regarding the rights and roles of minorities in the state institutions.
It was highlighted that the citizens of the state should not be looked upon as people from majority and minority faith groups.
The vision of Quaid-e-Azam that was elaborated by his August 11, 1947’s speech was presented in a forceful manner.
It was argued that the people of Pakistan should be segregated with approach like celebrating ‘Minorities’ Day’ and instead it should be some connector like ‘Equality Day’.
The role of media was also highlighted with the message that the leaders from other faith groups should be included in the TV/Radio discussions on national issues instead of inviting them only to discuss their specific problems. Thus, media could bridge the existing gap between various faith groups in the country.
First TV talk show, August 11, 2016
Second TV talk show, December 25, 2016
Radio Talk Shows
To spread the message of equal citizenship, participation and opportunities for minority groups and women at large, PDF hold three radio talk shows from FM 103 Faisalabad on December 7, 9, 2016 in which discussed equal citizenship/social practices towards minorities’ rights and third radio talk was on December 10, 2016 which was focused on gender mainstreaming for women’s leadership role at decision making level. In all three programs panelists were religious leader (Christian & Muslims), journalists, and social activists (CPGs coordinators). The people from the project areas were benefitted in Faisalabad. PDF provide a leading role to the CPGs leaders to talk on media. Moreover, the panelists emphasized that no religion promotes and allows the extremism and discrimination towards non-Muslims and women.