Face to Faith Pakistani Coordinator Responds to the Violence Against Malala Yousufzai.
31 Oct 2012
On the sad occasion of the attack on brave daughter of Pakistan Malala Yousufzai, I would like to salute the students of Face to Faith Peshawar, Pakistan who participated on International Peace Day. This school is also in North of Pakistan. I pray for the safety of these Malalas. Hats off to brave teachers of this school.
Last month thousands of students from Peshawar, Northern Pakistan and Karachi, Lahore, Islamabad, Quetta, and Kashmir took part in UN Peace Day as part of the Tony Blair Faith Foundation's global schools programme Face to Faith.
The bravery and commitment of Malala Yousufzai and the thousands of students who took part in these peace demonstrations give me hope for the future. If these students grow up to become our leaders, I think we have reason to be optimistic about the future.
On the same day people across Pakistan were burning tyres on roads, fighting with police, and attacking cinemas and banks in response to the US film, Innocence of Muslims, thousands of Pakistani students from Khyber Pakhtoon Khuwah to Karachi showed their commitment to achieving peace one day through the Tony Blair Faith Foundation's global schools programme, Face to Faith.
Despite the chaos on the streets and the fact it was a public holiday, the students headed into school. They made pledges, painted pictures, read poems and planted trees all in the name of peace.
UN sanctioned Peace Day (21st September) was established by the UN after Jeremy Gilley, founder of Peace One Day led the initiative to establish the first-ever annual day of global ceasefire and non-violence. The day itself has seen a significant decrease in violence with the UN Department for Safety and Security reporting a 70% reduction in violent incidents in Afghanistan on Peace Day 2008.
Public, private, rural, urban, privileged, underprivileged, girls and boys schools from Peshawar, Quetta, Karachi, Islamabad, Hyderabad, Gujranwala, Lahore, Dadu, Tharparkar, and Matyari district all took part. All of the schools are part of the Tony Blair Faith Foundation's global schools programme Face to Faith. The programme builds understanding between young people of different faiths by connecting classrooms through video-conferences and a secure website. Students are given the opportunity to discuss global issues such as peace from different faith and cultural perspectives. Through knowledge comes the possibility of peaceful co-existence. Where there is ignorance there is fear and where there is fear there can be conflict.
The major impression of the activities was building peace within Pakistan as well as across the world. Some students spoke about the unrest and violence in Karachi while others focused on drone attacks in the north and tensions between India and Pakistan. Kajal, one of the Hindu students from a Government girls school in Hyderabad shared with me after her event: "Peace is the only thing that can save human beings from destruction".
Another student from a government school in Lahore expressed his desire for peace between India and Pakistan through his Peace One Day drawing which depicted the hand of a Pakistani holding that of an Indian. Significantly students in Pakistan have connected with students in India. There have been 22 video conferences between the two countries since the programme launched in 2009. These interactions are helping to ease tensions between these two communities. "Pakistan and India have a history of war but we the young people are creating the history of peace. Through Face to Faith, we are becoming friends across two boundaries" a student from the Sindh area told me.
Neelam a grade 10 student from Hyderabad Sindh Province was keen to challenge associations of terrorism and violence with his religion. The poster he created for Peace One Day displayed the words: "My religion Islam, is the religion of Peace".
Ms. Farzana Amir, a teacher from a public school in Hyderabad shared her admiration for her students with me: "I trust these young people. They could become ambassadors of peace in future. Nobody can stop them" she said.
In total fifty seven Face to Faith schools in thirteen countries from around the world including Palestine, Lebanon, Mexico, the UK and US stood up for peace this year took part in this global pursuit of peace.
Danish Jatoi, has been co-ordinating the Face to Faith activity in Pakistan since its inception in 2009