Lahoris unite for peace in the country

* Concerned Citizens of Pakistan announces establishment of fund for IDPs
* SAFMA secretary general urges media to isolate, expose Taliban

By Ali Usman

LAHORE: Patriotic fervour was at fever pitch on Friday when citizens gathered at the Liberty Roundabout and Huzuri Bagh to pray for the promotion of peace in the region and lit candles for the country’s safety.

The large gathering of people at Liberty Roundabout was intended to show their commitment for the country’s affairs. The number of female participants surpassed the number of men present on the occasion, with most people waving national flags and holding placards to convey feelings of nationalism.

Justice (r) Nasira Iqbal recited verses from Allama Iqbal’s poetry and collective prayers were recited for the country’s cause: “We pray to You, God, to help guide us through these difficult times. We ask you to protect us from those who threaten the peace and unity of our country. We pray for those who have sacrificed their lives for us. We pray to you to bring us all onto the right path of unity, justice, tolerance, equality, compassion and understanding for mankind.” The prayers were followed by the national anthem.

Funds: Concerned Citizens of Pakistan (CCP), the organisers of the gathering, announced the establishment of a fund for internally displaced persons (IDPs) from war-struck regions. CCP Chairman Hamid Zaman said funds were urgently needed and citizens should make generous donations. “We want to show our commitment for peace and unity. We do not want the military to kill people during the operations but we want terrorism to be eliminated,” he said.

Participants carried banners and placards to convey their message to the general public. Prominent banners read: ‘Save Pakistan, save your identity’, ‘Save Swat save Pakistan’, ‘There was never good war or bad peace’, ‘Pakistan Key Dushman Taliban’, and ‘Islam Key Dushman Taliban’.

Isolate: South Asian Free Media Association (SAFMA) Secretary General Imtiaz Alam said the Taliban had burnt schools, mistreated women, and declared democracy and constitution as illegal concepts. He urged the media to isolate and expose the Taliban.

Umme Laila, a human rights activist, said the Taliban’s interpretation of Islam was the opposite of the true meaning of the religion. He said the country’s citizens should join hands to unite against Talibanisation, terrorism, and extremism.

Jugnu Mohsin, Strengthening Participatory Organiation Regional Manager Salman Abid, senior journalist Zahid Akasi, Abdul Rauf, Munnu Bhai, and many prominent civil rights activists also participated in the vigil.

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