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Semianr: Sharia Law, Taliban and Islam. 4th Segment of a series of seminars"ISLAMIC PEACE PERSPECTIVES"

Associated Press of Pakistan and Voice of America, Urdu Service covered this event and developed reports. The Commongrounds reproducing APP story with thanks.
WASHINGTON, May 27 (APP): A sustained U.S. commitment to rehabilitation of the displaced people of Swat can be a good opportunity to help foster understanding between the West and Islamic countries, prominent religious scholars advocated at a seminar. Pakistani and American Muslim scholars, speaking at a seminar organized by “The Commongrounds” stressed resolution of political disputes and economic development of people in distress as ways to pull the world out of turmoil and extremist violence.
The speakers welcomed the Obama administration’s gestures toward peaceful coexistence with the Muslmi world but said Washington must lead efforts to address lingering conflicts and grievances.

Allama Muhammad Maqsood Qadri, former Khateeb of Data Darbar, Lahore, Imam Shakir al-Syed of Dar ul Hijra, Imam Nahidyan, Executive Director The Commongrounds Dr. Zulfiqar Kazm and State Department official Peter Kavoch, Director Global Strategic Engagement Center, were among the particiapnts in the disucssion on finding ways to forge a partnership for peace in the world.

In his keynote address, Allama Maqsood Qadri argued that both the Western powers and the Muslims should demonstrate reciprocal respect for life, cultures and traditions to find a common ground for establishing harmony and peace.

“One way to curb Talibanization and extremism is to give the people the right to self-determination,” he said in the political perspective.

“The Taliban’s distorted version of religion has no place in Islam and suicide bombing is strictly forbidden - the U.S. and other Western powers as well as all Muslims should also show respect for human life, especially the innocent civilians (in combat situations) because killing one human being is like killing whole humanity,” Qadri stated in the interactive session.

He weas responding to a question from a Pakistani American activist Saeed Khan about the loss of lives in drone attacks, the killing of innocent civilians in Kashmir at the hands of Indian forces and repression of Muslims in the Middle East and the question of reciprocity of responsibility to save human lives on both sides.

“The world powers including the United States must extend humanitarian and development aid for the displaced persons of Swat,” the Imam said, referring to more than two million internally displaced persons of Swat and closeby areas following the military offensive launched to flush out Taliban militants.

Allama Qadri particularly asked the Muslims to represent their best in these times of crisis and adhere to Islamic teachings of learning, tolerance and enlightenment.

In his speech, Imam Shakir underlined the need for predicating Western policies on profound understanding of Islam and the Muslims.  The impressions and images aired by the media do not help and should not be the basis of policies, he said.

The world affairs must be seen in the long-term holistic perspective and not merely in the immediate context, he stated.

“Ultimately, it is the bigger picture that give a better perspective and not actions by a group of the Taliban,” he noted, pleading that reacting to extremism with force is not the way forward. Instead, he said, the U.S. should lead with a visionary approach in the interest of peace and stability in the world.

Imam Abu Al Fazal Nahidyan, a scholar from Iran, also called for the West to have a universal approach to the issues of the day.

Dr. Zulfiqar Kazmi, in his introduction, threw up some thought-stimulating questions on the way out of current chaos and violence. He was confident that the American spirit of pluralism would lead to broader policies.

He said harmony between Ibrahimic faiths can be achieved through cooperative efforts. He said the Taliban do not represent the true face of Islam and the majority of Pakistanis are moderate in their outlook.

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Abu Al Fazal Naheedian addressing to the participants

PEACE SCHOLAR AWARD 2008

Mr. Peter J. Kovach, Director Global Strategic Engagement Center, US Department of State and Dr. Zulfiqar A. Kazmi, Executive Director The Commongrounds presenting PEACE SCHOLAR AWARD 2008 to Allama Muhammad Maqsood Qadri, Grand Imam of Pakistan

A GRAND & MEMORABLE FAREWELL RECEPTION TO MR. BRYAN D. HUNT

The Commongrounds USA convened a Grand Farewell Reception and Luncheon Meeting in recognition of Mr. Bryan D. Hunt's diplomatic services for promoting friendly and cooperative relationships between Pakistan and US for peace and prosperity. In his welcome remarks Dr. Zulfiqar A. Kazmi expressed his deep appreciation for Mr. Hunt. As Principal Officer at the US Consulate in Lahore Mr. Bryan has always strived to create better understanding and mutual relations and people of Punjab will always remember and appreciate his sincere diplomatic efforts. Dr. Zulfiqar A. Kazmi also presented a plaque/souvenir to Mr. Bryan D. Hunt. This meeting was largely attended by the elites of Lahore and Geo TV Pakistan transmitted proceedings of this memorable event LIVE from the venue.

THE COMMONGROUNDS USA