India peace icon arriving today for regional harmony

ISLAMABAD – With an aim to urge the leadership of two neighbouring nuclear powers of south Asia to find peaceful solutions of all the issues by promoting friendship, understanding and dialogue, prominent Hindu humanitarian Sri Ravi Shankar is arriving here today for three days.

Shankar is visiting Pakistan at a critical moment in the history of the two countries and aims to find peaceful solutions by promoting friendship, understanding and dialogue. 

“If we spend one-tenth of what we have spent on conflicts, we could create a much more prosperous South Asia, where no one knows about guns, no one suffers from diseases, and no one cries for life,” Sri Ravi Shankar was quoted as having said.

“This will be Sri’s second visit; the first one was in July 2004, when he became the first Hindu spiritual leader from India to visit Pakistan.

We are hoping, his visit will contribute a lot to establish people to people contact between the two neighbours,” Zarmina Durrani, a humanitarian and peace activist based in Lahore said when contacted by TheNation on Sunday.

Emphasizing the urgent need for a people-to-people movement and urging the youth to commit to a non-violent and harmonious South Asia, Shankar had said, “We have spent a lot on conflicts, on escalating conflicts and on destruction of life and environment. Now we have to work towards making peace.”

The visit, at a critical moment in the history of the two countries, aims to find peaceful solutions by promoting friendship, understanding and dialogue. 

During his three-day peace mission, he will hold talks with business leaders, academicians, spiritual leaders, student organizations and opinion leaders to strengthen collaborative efforts between the two countries.

He is likely to meet the top political leaders as well.

Shankar believes that spirituality alone can bring the hearts and minds of people together, and mend differences. A true example is the inauguration of The Art of Living Peace Centre in Islamabad, by Sri along with Dr Paul Bhatti, Advisor to PM for Interfaith Harmony. He will visit places of religious significance, including the Badshahi Mosque, to send out the message of universal spirituality.

Shankar will enter Lahore from the Wagah border on March 12, 2012 and proceed to Islamabad and Karachi.

On his visit to Pakistan in July 2004, Shankar had inaugurated The Art of Living’s stress elimination programs as well as humanitarian service initiatives. The foundation has also been involved in relief efforts in the Swat valley, and collection and distribution of relief material and raising funds for rebuilding of schools (in partnership with Rotary International) for the 2008 Quetta earthquake relief.

“As an ongoing effort to create a stress-free, violence-free society, The Art of Living’s Pakistani instructors conduct stress-elimination programmes. Eight Art of Living Teachers in Pakistan have trained thousands of people through art of living courses.” says Naeem Zamindar, Chairman, Art of Living Foundation Pakistan.

It is important to mention here that, during the earthquake in 2005 and floods in 2010, The Art of Living volunteers in Pakistan had provided relief and rehabilitation to an estimated 100,000 people through trauma relief camps, medical camps and food distribution centers.

Community service projects that include programs at SOS Children Villages, prison rehabilitation programs, local area clean-up and tree planting programs are part of the on-going activities by the volunteers.

During his second visit, starting from Monday 12 March, will be meeting with spiritual leaders including Gohar Hussain, Bari Imam Makhdoom Syed Nazakat Hussain Shah, Eid Gah (Pir Nakeeb-ur-Rehman), Dr. Ghazanfar Mehdi, Chairman International Imam Hussain Council.