Together For Peace by Dr Ramesh Kumar Vankwani

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At a time when the international community is in panic mode due to North Korea’s recent missile tests, I am attending an international peace summit held at Seoul.

While North Korea, which is under communist rule, tries to secure its future by amassing nuclear weapons, South Korea – supported by the US and the West – emerges as a modern, developed country. The latter is also the world’s largest investor in research, smartphones and digital technology. Although the Korean people share a common traditional culture, both states are considered to be at loggerheads. The National Liberation Day of Korea is celebrated on August 15 in both parts of the divided peninsula.

The enormous death toll and massive destruction in both North and South Korea mark the Korean War as one of the bloodiest conflicts in modern history. Lee Man-hee, a war veteran belonging to South Korea, has dedicated his life to ensuring peace. According to him, peace is essential and must be achieved through quality education.

To commemorate the 65th anniversary of the independence of Korea, he proclaimed the Declaration of the Unification of Korea. The Heavenly Culture, World Peace, Restoration of Light (HWPL), an organisation founded by Lee, is also committed to bringing world peace, global harmony and the cessation of war through various initiatives. These include introducing an enforceable law that is compatible with the Declaration of Peace and Cessation of War (DPCW) and the World Alliance of Religions’ Peace (WARP).

The third Annual Commemoration of the WARP Summit was organised by the HWPL on September 18 under the guidance of Lee and IWPG Chairperson Nam Hee Kim.

I was invited to address the summit as a keynote speaker in the inaugural session. As many as 150,000 participants – including parliamentarians, religious leaders, civil society representatives, peace activists and media practitioners from 156 countries – attended the summit.

At the summit, I maintained that the Pakistan Movement was a peaceful struggle to achieve a separate Muslim-majority country to provide equal rights to all citizens. I also quoted the Quaid-e-Azam’s August 11, 1947 speech and the constitution of Pakistan to support my point of view.

I told the audience that a majority of Pakistanis are peace-loving and tolerant. However, not more than five percent of the population comprises extremist elements that are bringing a bad name to the country on the international level. Such unwanted elements are present in every society and it is not fair to hold prejudices and hostilities against any country on this basis. I also shared my experience of introducing new legislations in parliament, especially those laws that are related to Hindu marriage and the prevention of forced conversions.

On the occasion, the Conference for Global Peace Media Network was also held and around 100 journalists from 50 different countries participated. The event was particularly interesting for in me as I had established a similar platform a few months ago called Tolerant Pakistan Media Network. This platform sought to facilitate Pakistani journalists to promote peace, tolerance and harmony. Every journalist – whether he or she works for the electronic or print media or is a freelance blogger – must report at least one story in a month for this noble cause. The platform also aims to empower media practitioners to cooperate and share their experiences. A peace parade was also organised where thousands of peace activists from Korea and other countries participated. The participants were of the view that a forced invasion and war will not exist if the international community joins hand and cooperates to achieve peace.

A tank is usually considered to be a destructive weapon. However, participants at the summit spoke about how it could be utilised as a beneficial tool in the agriculture sector and for construction work.

Even after 70 years of separation, South Koreans still have hope for a peaceful reunification with their northern brethren. We must also develop strong bonds with other countries on the basis of humanity. First, we must form a committee or consortium with due representation from all participating countries with a one-point agenda: to serve humanity. Second, media collaboration, fellowships and study tours must be encouraged. Third, there must also be a system of ranking whereby the countries with the best or worst practices of serving humanity can be identified. Moreover, the HWPL peace education curriculum also needs the urgent attention of all global stakeholders.

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

Twitter: @RVankwani

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