An interfaith Conference for dialogue and peace was held in Islamabad on the initiative of Maulana Abdul Kabir Azad, Imam of Lahore. About 300 people, representatives of the different religious communities of the country, took part and listened to the speeches of Andrea Riccardi and the president of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, Arif Alvi.
"Pakistan wants peace, it repudiates all violence". said Maulana, recalling the path of dialogue and friendship developed in the Prayer Meetings for Peace promoted by Sant'Egidio, in which he has been taking part for some years. A participation that has strengthened his conviction that, in an interconnected world, the strength of religions for peace is decisive and also encouraged his commitment for Pakistan to take an active part in this international movement of dialogue.
In his speech, Andrea Riccardi underlined how important collaboration between the different religious faiths is in the global world, not only at the level of legislation, but in the daily life of peoples: "Our meetings of prayer, friendship, dialogue are a challenge to hate and war. A movement that has broken down walls and united in dialogue. Over the years, the conviction has matured that peace is always possible! Religions are sometimes fuel on the fire of violence. They are incendiary, because they are unfaithful to culture of their history. But religions can be water that puts out the fire of war and hatred. Our history, dear friends, shows that every true believer must have the courage for peace."
President Alvi stressed the importance of meeting between religions to estinguishe the fire of violence, which has produced so much pain throughout history. "Peoples learn from what they see and friendship between religious leaders teaches us to live together" he said, inviting people to practice the art of dialogue in the civil life of the country.
This Conference, not only for the topics covered, but for the authoritativeness of the speakers and for the participation of the various religious communities (among the Catholics: the Dominican fathers, the bishop of Islamabad, the nuncio, but also some communities of nuns) marks a decisive step in the coexistence of religions in Pakistan. In fact, although tensions still persist, there has been a clear improvement in relations between the various religious communities, a sign that the work for dialogue done in recent years is consistently permeating Pakistani social life.
At the end of the conference, the president awarded Andrea Riccardi for his commitment to peace and dialogue, hoping that collaboration between Sant'Egidio and Pakistan will continue.