Lahore: The APS Peshawar attack of 16 December 2014 united the people to say “No to Terrorism” and demand a peaceful Pakistan. The Punjab government and the Minister for Education and Youth Affairs Rana Mashhood Ahmed took an initiative to create awareness of a “Peaceful and PurAman Pakistan.”

To present this initiative “Peaceful Pakistan” and the Punjab Information Technology Board (PITB) organized an event at the Arfa Karim Software Technology Park in Lahore recently to discuss “Peace Narrative and Anti Terrorism Discourse” with Bloggers and journalists.

Anumber of people played an important role to make this event a success. The mothers of APS Peshawar Children, PITB Chairman Dr. Umar Saif, and Col. Farooq from the ISPR, were the Chief Guests at the event. Along with them renowned media people and peace activists were on the panel. Adeel Hashmi, Managing Director of Lights Storm Communications, Omair Rana CEO of Real Production and Fariha Rashid CEO of INK and PITCH Media were the panelist.

The program opened with the National Anthem and recitation from the Quran. Videos of APS Peshawar children and promises of the youth to make Pakistan a better place were shown. The discussion opened with the panelists introducing themselves. Umair Rana chaired the session and Adeel Hashmi kept lightening up the mood as it got serious. The aim of the discussion was to find ways and means of attaining peace in Pakistan, fulfilling our roles are a citizen of the state.

Adeel Hashmi spoke on tolerance and said, “We as a nation are lacking tolerance now. Even those who are educated are lacking the basic element. Social media is becoming a battle field, people are not ready to have healthy discussions, rather death threats and fights are the ‘in’ thing. We have completely gone astray from our culture, heritage, traditions and language. Peaceful Pakistan is an encouraging move by the government that is sure to bring a about a positive change in our society. The youth has a vital role to play because it is the future of Pakistan. Look beyond your differences and build the Pakistan Quaid e Azam dreamt of.”

Fariha Rashid said, “Our educational syllabus needs to be revised. Our future generation is going to live in this country and they have to understand how things work. They should be taught the constitution and laws so that they are aware of their duties and rights. There’s no power that can undo Pakistan. As writers and bloggers we have the power to influence public opinion. If you need a stable country, you need to be active part of Peaceful Pakistan.”

Umair Rana said, “Our providence is in tolerance. For too long we have either been too quiet or too loud. We have neither respected the spoken word nor listened to it. It is essential for us now to take a deep breath and learn to listen. For if we do not listen to the sounds, deafness may follow, and then shouts and screams of help won’t be heard, even yours, even mine.” 

Mother of Maaz, an APS Peshawar under treatment student said, “Initially when the attack took place I was very upset but later I realized we were the chosen ones from Allah. Due to us and our children sacrifices Pakistan became united. Maaz is a very brave child, when the school reopened he made sure he went to school the first day. He was not afraid even after being critically injured.” She commented on the society at large and said, we do not tolerate the government increasing prices of commodities, or the law and order conditions are messed up, but are not so when it is happening within our four walls. We have failed somewhere in our homes due to which people are no more tolerant.”

Col. Farooq of ISPR said, “Zarb e Azb has been a success due to public and media support. The Army is doing everything to handle this menace and end it once and for all. We are focused on our task and have made major achievements.”

Dr Umer Saif said, “In today’s world of media and technology it is easier to reach out to others and motivate them to join hands in pursuing peace and brotherhood. The Government of Punjab is committed to bringing together Pakistanis across the nation regardless of their culture, faith and class. Through Peaceful Pakistan, an active online community, we aim to build a united and harmonious society that eradicates extremism and promotes peaceful narratives. We urge people from all walks of life to join hands with us and work towards building a Peaceful Pakistan.”

The participants who included students, bloggers, media persons and IT professions asked pertinent and often hard hitting questions which were taken and handled by the panelists very well, and the event was a success.