ASGHAR BEG That saints have played a prominent role in the spread of Islam is a known fact of history that is acknowledged by dispassionate historians. It was the humanitarian theme and the universal message of peace, and the simple and unblemished ways of living of these saintly persons, that attracted hordes of people wherever they went and uttered their words of wisdom. It was quite apt, therefore, for the Prime Minister, Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani, while he was paying homage to Hazrat Karmanwali Sarkar in the Okara district some time back, to talk of the purely peaceful methods the saints of Islam adopted to make this glorious religion a household world. From their examples the world drew inspiration. Their guidance was keenly sought and thus the teaching of Holy Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) spread far and wide. These are facts that are hard to deny. The Sufis lives oozed out love and affection for people of all faiths, had a markedly persuasive power and attracted people towards them in an inimitably simple manner, drawing them towards Islam. There was no coercion whatever involved. The study of their lives and the impact they exercised on their surrounding should motivate us to think of inculcating the habits of peace to defeat the forces of terrorism that is antithetic to peace. At the shrine the prime minister took the opportunity to urge religious leaders and scholars to devote their energies to undoing the negative image of Islam, preaching unity of the Muslim Ummah through the cohesive element of peace and highlight the evil effects of terrorism that had no place in Islam. It was unfortunate that certain religious leaders promoted a destructive image of Islam, as if this noblest of religions were a religion of war and strife. This negative image of Islam has been projected by certain quarters, adept in the art of wrong image-building and which have no other agenda than undermining Muslims all over the world. This distorted understanding of the true meaning and purpose of the Islamic religion has provoked certain elements to resort to acts of terrorism, whose victims are by and large innocent civilians. Thus, they are doing no service to the great religion. With sustained efforts and remoulding the mindset of the younger generations the tide can be turned. The government and the armed forces of Pakistan have been forced to act, ensuring at the same time that the innocent civilians are not affected. The success the armed forces have achieved has given the people a great sense of relief. Those directly affected by the malicious reach of terrorism now feel assured that they can restart their lives in a climate of safety and security. The Government of Pakistan is doing all it can to rehabilitate those who had been compelled to migrate to other, safer, areas of the country. Living conditions are being improved. Roads and schools, houses, commercial and business centres wherever they have been destroyed or damaged are being rebuilt. And on top of that, security of the inhabitants of the areas, which have been cleared of militants, is being provided. The writer is a freelance columnist.