Friday, 4 October 2013

Uniting for peace : Peshawar after the blasts

By Farah Samuel

The history of Edwardes College dates back to 1900s. It is the first college in the history of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa. Despite being a Christian institute, Edwardes College is an ecumenical institute; which means an institute for all irrespective of cast, color or creed.

Edwardes College has produced many laureates till date. A number of prominent personalities such as the ex-Vice Chancellor of University of Peshawar, Prof. Dr. Azmat Hayat Khan have been a part of this prestigious institute, which is why, Edwardes owns its flourishing students wherever they are. The recent blasts in All Saints Church, Kohati took away many lives and unfortunately four students of Edwardes College too. All four of them were brilliant academically and one of them was a medical student at Khyber Medical University.

On 26th September, one of the ex-students of Edwardes College, Dr. Mahrukh Khan came up with a beautiful thought of keeping a peace and solidarity rally in memory of the lost souls. The rally was held within the premises of Edwardes College where all the faculty members and the students showed their good will to contribute in this noble cause.

The ex-Bishop of Peshawar Diocess, Munawar RumalShah expressed his pain: “I fail to understand the ulterior motives of the harmful souls. If they wish to segregate the masses then they have probably failed because if they witness what I see today, they will be wounded to know that people from all religious sects, stood by the Christians in this hour of grave. We have always been together to support each other with our tender care whenever needed and this shall continue for as long as we are alive. Peace is not peace if it is not for others.”

The principal of Edwardes College, Dr.Titus Presler who was not a part of the ceremony physically but had sent his kind regards for his family at Edwardes. A part of his address said: “We must work for peace in order to prevent such an atrocity as was visited upon the Christian community last Sunday or such atrocities as were visited upon the Shia community in Quetta last January and February. Working for peace means seeking to resolve differences without conflict and violence. Working for peace requires courage and humility and it often requires sacrifice.”

The students from the Khyber Medical University (KMU) who were present at the ceremony extended their condolences for the departed and remembered their demised fellow in the highest of spirits. They couldn’t refrain from saying that their fellow student was one of the brilliant students at KMU and shall always be a part of their beautiful memories.

A young Christian, a faculty member at Edwardes College, Asst. Prof. Cedric A Edwin expressed his utmost grief and agony at the unfortunate incident: “It's extremely hard to think rationally in times of sorrow but this is exactly what we are going to do, think rationally and logically, because we are men of Faith. Sinking in the negativity and keeping the heads high! Most of them were friends and their families - honest, middle-class, hard working, strong Christians, our brothers and sisters, who are no more with us. There are many evildoers around here who want to sabotage our cause by playing political tantrums but with the strength and composure which Our Lord gives us, we are keeping our heads high and not showing any kind of hatred towards other communities. Our message is: Terrorists have no religion. Thanks to all the friends who showed their deep concern.”

The ceremony culminated in a peace walk throughout the premises of the College. All the faculty members and the students lifted banners and placards which displayed only one ultimate desire; PEACE. One of the banners said: “Let peace be on earth.” This walk demonstrated that for a humble and noble cause such as the prevalence of peace, the different communities connect and join together as one nation. Such demonstration and the expression of humanity caused by sheer grief are self evident of togetherness. The procession took place peacefully and all the students returned with serenity masking their faces and exhilarating their souls in joy and calmness which they portrayed for the deceased.

A remarkable day at Edwardes College ended peacefully. It was heartening to see the air of friendliness and compassion for each other. Edwardes College has always promoted harmony amongst the masses. Today for once the peace and harmony shadowed the remorse and grief that we suffered lately. It filled my heart with even more reverence for my teachers and the young students who made their presence so effective that it will last forever. This day has been marked in the history of the College as a day when humans and not different religious sects mustered up courage and gathered for a cause which will be remembered for many years to come. We need not such tragic events to join hands but such God fearing souls to illuminate the candle of peace, love and harmony.

-the writer is an Environmentalist by profession and based in Peshawar, a former student of Edwardes College, a proud Pakistani, a keen observer of inter-faith dialogue and a staunch advocate of peace. 

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