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PEOPLE’S SAARC: Inter-Faith Meet for Peace, Harmony and Solidarity in South Asia

Jan 14 2014

PEOPLE’S SAARC: Inter-Faith Meet for Peace, Harmony and Solidarity in South Asia

The “PEOPLE’S SAARC: Inter-Faith Meet for Peace, Harmony and Solidarity in South Asia”, was held in Mumbai last week. It was jointly organised by the Observer Research Foundation Mumbai and Minhaj-ul-Quran International (India).

About 10 leaders of different religions were called to guide the foundation of the People’s SAARC. Joining via live video link from Toronto, Shaykh-ul-Islam Dr. Muhammad Tahir-ul-Qadri gave a beautiful speech in which he called upon both Pakistanis and Indians to inaugurate a new chapter of mutual goodwill, friendship and cooperation in their relationship. All the outstanding problems between the two countries can — and should — be resolved through negotiations in an atmosphere of mutual trust and accommodation, he remarked.

The leaders at the conference closed-door, roundtable were:

  • Shaykh-ul-Islam Dr Tahir-ul-Qadri (Internationally renowned Pakistan-born Islamic scholar, founder of Mihaj-ul-Quran, and author of ‘FATWA on Terrorism and Suicide Bombings’)
  • Pujya Swami Chidanand Saraswatiji(Spiritual Head, Parmarth Niketan Ashram, Rishikesh and Founder, India Heritage Research Foundation and co-founder Global Interfaith WASH Alliance)
  • His Eminence Oswald Cardinal Gracias (Archbishop of Bombay, President of Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India, and member of the advisory council appointed by H.H. Pope Francis)
  • Dr. Satyapal Singh (Commissioner of Police, Mumbai; a Sanskrit scholar and a spirited advocate for inter-religious harmony)
  • Sardar Tarlochan Singh (Former Member of Parliament who served as Chairman, National Commission for Minorities from 2000 to 2003)
  • Dr. Bhadant Anand Mahathero (Sri Lankan born Buddhist monk, initiated into monkhood by H. H. Baddegama Vimalvansha)
  • Dasturji Khurshed Dastur Kekobad Dastoor (Head Priest at Shree Pak Iranshah Zoroastrian Temple, Udvada)
  • Dr. Ved Pratap Vaidik (Renowned Hindi journalist, scholar, political analyst and a leading figure in India-Pakistan dialogue)
  • Sadhvi Bhagawati Saraswati (President of the Divine Shakti Foundation, Parmarth Niketan Ashram, Rishikesh; a leading voice in inter-faith dialogue activities worldwide; promoter of Hindu-Jewish dialogue)
  • Dr. Meenal Karnitkar (Head of the Centre of Jain Studies, Mumbai University)
  • Sudheendra Kulkarni (Chairman, Observer Research Foundation Mumbai)
  • Rafeeq Ahmed Khan (President, Minhaj-ul-Quran International India)

Sadhvi Bhagawatiji said, “If we are standing here as representatives of the people of the South Asian nations, called here for the formation of a People’s SAARC, then we must look at the truth of the lives of these people. For a large percentage of people living in India, Pakistan, Bangalesh, Sri Lanka and other nations the truth of their existence is hunger, thirst, illiteracy and illness. Approximately 200 million people in South/West and Central Asia have no access to clean water. 200 million Indians will sleep hungry tonight and 3000 children die every day in India from hunger. This is the truth of the people whom we are representing. If we are truly to serve them, to truly represent them, it is imperative that we work not only for more permeable borders, not only for an end to military responses, but also for the very basic betterment of their lives.”

Click here to view photos from the event.

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