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Punjab governor lauds YDF peace campaign amid pandemic

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LAHORE: Punjab Governor Chaudhry Muhammad Sarwar has lauded the peace campaign launched by the Ministry for Human Rights and Minorities Affairs collaboration with the Youth Development Foundation (YDF) – an organisation working for peace and youth affairs – during the pandemic. The governor awarded a letter of appreciation to the YDF in recognition of its work at a ceremony organised at the Governor’s House here and said the nation needs to stand united during the pandemic. He said the country could not afford divisions on sectarian, religious or any other discriminatory grounds

The three-month media campaign aimed at countering hate speech and discrimination during Covid-19, which is heading towards its conclusion, countered the blame game in which people belonging to different sects were held responsible for spreading Covid-19 in the country. The need for this initiative was felt when Shia pilgrims returning from Iran and the members of Tableeghi Jamaat were stigmatized for being carriers of Covid-19 and causing its spread.

YDF Executive Director Shahid Rehmat shared that peace messages of faith leaders from different sects and other notables were recorded and aired on TV channels, Radio channels, cable television networks etc. In these messages, he said, the stress was on facing the challenges together and avoiding baseless allegations against each other.

Those interviewed for messages included Allama Raghib Naeemi, Allama Tahir Ashrafi, Allama Muhammad Akbar Hussain, Allama Abdul Khabir Azad, Bishop Sebastian Shaw, Ali Akbar Natiq, PTI MPA Mahendar Pal Singh, PML-N leader Bushra Butt and others. Besides, billboards, banners and streamers carrying these messages were displayed in five cities namely Lahore, Okara, Multan, Bahawalpur and D G Khan. The campaign also got media hits and was covered extensively by leading newspapers of the country.

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Minister for Human Rights and Minorities Affairs Ijaz Alam Augustine shared that the campaign yielded positive results and won appreciation from people at a large scale. He said there was a notable change in people’s behaviour and the blame game against different sects was dying out fast.

PTI MPA Mahendar Pal Singh was of the view that the campaign had ignited a spirit in people and now they stood united in these testing times. He said the campaign had brought people with diverse backgrounds together and removed wrong perceptions, which was no doubt a great achievement.

The peace campaign was also run on social media where it gained attention of people from different age groups and backgrounds. They got engaged in discussions and shared the content extensively which increased its reach. The Facebook, Instagram and Twitter accounts of the campaign with tagline “Bringing Communities Together” won followers in large numbers.

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