In a country like Pakistan where Muslims are in majority and Non-Muslims are in minority, religious harmony plays an important role. The incidents of religious intolerance have far-reaching consequences, which allow unrest to settle in a society. The intolerance, if left unchecked, will infect the rest of the society, and very soon we will have incidents of inter-religious violence. It adversely affects not just the minorities, but also the different sects of the same religion. The cases of such intolerance that led to violent incidents have reared their ugly heads on more than one occasion.
In such times, religious harmony plays an important role in promoting national peace and stability. Occasions and events that promote religious tolerance and harmony are the need of the hour.
On one such occasion, the archbishop of Canterbury participated in Sunday mass at All Saints Church during his three-day visit to Pakistan. A large number of Christians and priests attended the Sunday mass. The guests were given traditional gifts and greetings. The Pakistan Council of World Religious Faith Friends representatives headed by Qari Rohullah Madani were all present there.
He gave a message of peace and harmony to people, especially in the context of the ongoing war between Ukraine and Russia. In times when the war between the two neighbors has sent shocks across the entire world, messages like these do a lot in easing the tensions. The archbishop visited Peshawar briefly and met with the relatives of Christian families who had been killed in the random acts of terrorism. Special Representative of Prime Minister for Interfaith Harmony and the Middle East, Hafiz Muhammad Tahir Ashrafi, and President of Church of Pakistan Bishop Azad Marshal accompanied him. The archbishop also attended the dinner hosted by Tahir Ashrafi. The archbishop once more emphasized the importance of peace and said that peace can only come if we are honest with each other and with ourselves. He highlighted the importance of communication, saying that we need to talk about the difficult issues between us. He said, “We need to learn to argue and disagree with a spirit of understanding the issues and with a resolve to solve these issues. Let’s be courageous.”
A visit by the archbishop to Pakistan symbolizes that our authorities and people stand with our Christian brothers. Pakistan is always ready to foster an environment of religious security and freedom for its Non-Muslim citizens.