Church promotes peace amid violence
Interfaith groups seek end to decades of killing
The Church is sponsoring peace seminars and prayer vigils amid ongoing violence in the south. Yesterday in Lahore, six clerics and three priests joined together to light candles in memory of those who have been killed in recent violence in the area. The group also prayed and released pigeons. The National Council for Interfaith Dialogue last week organized a prayer service following ethnic violence in Karachi, in southern Sindh province, where hundreds of families have been evacuated. A heavy contingent of security forces have now taken control of the area, but 100 people, including one Christian, are said to have been killed in the violence. “It's like a mini-civil war. The situation is deteriorating and slipping out of the government’s control. A sense of fear and insecurity is prevailing among citizens who are compelled to stay indoors, and the business hub of the country presents a gloomy and deserted lo0k,” said Father Francis Nadeem, coordinator of the interfaith council. Last week the Christian Study Center organized a workshop, titled “Peace and Composite Heritage,” at the Caritas Pakistan office in Quetta. About 40 participants from different religious backgrounds and tribal communities attended the workshop, which focused on engaging youths to promote peace in military-occupied regions that have faced exploitation for decades. A recent NGO report titled Voice for Missing Baloch Persons has claimed that state agencies have kidnapped more than 800 local residents in Balochistan province since 2006, with more than 140 people killed. Caritas Pakistan Quetta says that nine Christians have been shot dead in the last decade. “We shall not stop our efforts for peace. Our hopes lie with youth who can help bridge the gap,” said Sheezan William, executive secretary of CPQ, told a seminar last month. Others attending the seminar expressed fears over extrajudicial killings and the failure of authorities to maintain the peace. “Our lives are at risk. Hotels do not allow organizing programs that criticize the government,” said the head of an NGO on condition of anonymity.