FOLLOWING the rich traditional history of Pakistan, one is touched and pleasantly surprised to know that there are places and people in this very country daring to break age old taboos and challenges, living in the true spirit of peaceful synchronicity and mutual harmony while following different religions through ages. By sketching the timeless and vibrant stories of interfaith harmony, revealing personal stories of inspiring Pakistanis who are contributing to society in whatever way and capacity they can, without any discrimination of race, religion or cast, a beautiful and inspiring Travelogue ‘Dil Say Pakistan’ comes to subtly and subliminally touch upon many issues Pakistan faces and send out messages of inclusion and pro-activism to all Pakistanis.
Travelling from the snow clad mountains and deep wondrous valleys in the north through the rich plains led by the rivers, the vast deserts and ending on the lively beaches of the Arabian sea, the magic of this land, the grandeur of its beauty, brilliance and positivity of its people shows vibrant diversity and richness of peaceful coexistence and harmony that mostly remains away from the media. Mainstream media need to be utilized for promoting productivity, motivation, peace and tolerance. There are countless stories from across Pakistan that can become an inspiration to the youth and guide them towards productive activities and outlets. Revealing such stories to the youth specially would lead them to thinking, “If they can do it, why can’t we?”
Dil Say Pakistan is a Travelogue launched to unveil such amazing, inspiring and positive stories from Pakistan to the people of Pakistan and the world that fill their hearts with pride and oneness, and Pakistanis from different regions, sects and ethnic backgrounds stand proud and united under the banner of Pakistan. Compiled by Black Box Sounds, the unique travelogue moves across Pakistan, collecting these beautiful stories of people and places. By revealing stories of productivity, positivity, harmony and peace the Travelogue shows the reality that this is a country full of extreme potential and goodness, and invites people to become part of the peace process. These stories reveal the ‘brighter’ side of Pakistan that has been greyed and diminished with increased violence. The Travelogue takes us through the town of Mithi in Tharparker, a perfect example of peaceful coexistence. People are peace loving and there is absolutely no hatred or fight. Whether it’s Eid, Diwali or Holi, all residents of Mithi celebrate it together. Residents of Mithi believe that they aren’t Hindus or Muslims butsimply humans first. In times when we would witness religious extremism andconflict between various religious communities, you’d find it surprising thatpeople of Mithi live with so much love that crime level of the town is almost zero. Mithi gives interfaith harmony a new meaning. Religious intolerance elsewhere has barely made a dent in Hindu-Muslim brotherhood over here. They live, eat, and work together, because according to them, it is in their culture.
Mithi is one of the few towns in Pakistan where Muslims do not form the majority. Inthis quiet portion of a sprawling desert, both Hindus and Muslims have livedtogether like brothers since the creation of Pakistan. A resident of Mithi commenting about the pluralistic culture says, “After visiting Mithi you realize that it is very different from other places of Pakistan and it’s like a heaven on earth.” “In our village, Hindus and Muslims have been living together for decades and there has not been a single day, when I have seen a religious conflict. No loud speaker is used for Azaan at the time when Hindus are worshiping in their temple, and no bells are rung when it is time for namaz. Nobody eats in public when it is Ramazan and Holi is played by every member of the village.” The travelogue also takes us to the Shrine Odero Lal in Matiari village of Sindh, which is known as more than a temple: it is centuries old sanctuary for Hindus and Muslims. At the time of the destruction of the Babri Masjid in the early 1990, it was the only Hindu temple in the subcontinent to be guarded by Muslim devotees. The temple adjoining an ancient mosque where Hindus and Muslims worship together, respect each other’s rituals and observe silence during each other’s prayer times, Odero Lal is indeed a unique religious centre of not only Sindh, Pakistan but perhaps in whole world. His teachings attracted an equal number of Hindus and Muslims.
The shrine of Odero Lal has dual identities with dual role by the custodians, who remain present in the premises of the shrine whole the day, attending and guiding the local as well the international pilgrims. For Hindus, he is Odero Lal, while the Muslims believe him is Hazrat Shaikh Muhammad Tahir. The grave of Hazrat Shaikh Muhammad Tahir, which remains opened whole the day and both Hindu and Muslim devotees regularly pay visit. From places like Mithi and Oderolal, the Travelogue sketches silent stories of resilience, from the passion of a 19 year old girl Razia Bano from Lyari, Karachi, who breaks all societal taboos and stereotypes by venturing in to men dominated ring of Boxing. Wearing boxing gloves in place of bangles, Razia emerges as a boxer, trained by Younus Qambrani at Pak Shaheen Boxing Club in Karachi.
—The writer is freelance columnist based in Islamabad.