Preacher of Peace by Dr. Ramesh Kumar Vankwani

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On October 2, the world community observed the International Day for Non-Violence. According to a resolution passed by the UN General Assembly, the day is celebrated every year on the occasion of the birthday of Mahatma Gandhi, one of the leaders of the Indian independence movement against British imperialism.

Gandhi is also known as a pioneer of the philosophy and strategy of non-violence in the modern era. The purpose of marking the day is to create awareness about non-violence, and to promote peace, tolerance, pluralism, harmony and diversity.

Gandhi was born 150 years ago in British India. While keeping a simple lifestyle, he spent his entire life preaching peace over violence and urging to stand against injustice. He proved that victory through force is temporary whereas real success always comes through truth and strong character. Due to his remarkable contributions to the non-violence movement, various international personalities including Martin Luther King, Nelson Mandela, Dalai Lama and Barack Obama were inspired by him.

It is quite regrettable that the present leadership of his own country, India, has neglected the peace-loving ideology of Mahatma Gandhi. Similarly in Pakistan, we do not have much knowledge about history and there is much ignorance in this regard. People are unaware of some historical facts about Mahatma Gandhi.

After Partition, Gandhi went on a hunger strike with a demand to ensure provision of due rights to Pakistan and protection to Muslims. Gandhi also led a peace campaign in favour of Muslims. The peace pledge was signed by around 200,000 people, including Hindu, Sikh, Christian and other citizens, to show solidarity with the Indian Muslim minority.

Unfortunately, his support for Pakistan and Muslims became the reason of his assassination by an extremist. Now, Birla House in New Delhi, where Gandhi was killed, holds all-religion prayers on a daily basis. When the Subcontinent is burning in the fire of hatred and violence on the basis of religious discrimination, Gandhi’s positive role and sacrifice will be remembered as a sincere effort to rebuild interfaith harmony and peace among communities.

Mahatma Gandhi’s peace teachings are based on three core values – non-violence (Ahimsa), adherence to truth (Satyagraha) and self-rule and self-government (Swaraj). He believed that firm faith in God is the foundation of all moral values.

Gandhi studied different religions thoroughly for the welfare of humanity and interfaith harmony. While terming Islam as a religion of peace, Gandhi had a special devotion to Hazrat Imam Hussain.

The oppressed people of Indian-held Kashmir would never have to face such cruel atrocities if the present Indian government followed Gandhi’s teachings. In fact, I believe that Gandhi would have definitely played a role in ending the Kashmir conflict. According to both Quaid-e-Azam and Gandhi, the purpose of Partition was to ensure regional stability rather than creating two rival countries.

My message on the international day of non-violence is that Pakistan and India should resolve all their disputes including the Kashmir issue through bilateral dialogue. Both countries should focus on mutual cooperation. As Pakistanis, we should also practically adopt measures to protect Jinnah’s Pakistan from violence. We should also ensure that the history of attacks on Hindu temples, most recently in Ghotki, must not be repeated. Similarly, we should make serious efforts to end our disputes with neighbouring countries through non-violent means.

Quaid-e-Azam, following his speech of August 11, took Jogandar Nath Mandel on board as a part of the cabinet. We should also practically involve the non-Muslim community in state decision-making processes. For the protection and proper care of 1130 Hindu temples, 517 Gurdawaras, agriculture properties and other religious places, we should appoint a competent Hindu notable as chairperson of the Evacuee Trust Property Board.

All Hindu citizens, following Gandhi’s ideology of non-violence, must come forward to counter Modi’s violent policies. I have also made a promise to myself that if in the future I am given any government position I will definitely play my role to make Pakistan violence free and devise policies to end the acrimony between Pakistan and neighbouring countries, including India.

The writer is a member of the NationalAssembly and patron-in-chief of the Pakistan Hindu Council.

Twitter: @RVankwani

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