Saba Trust Holds Second World Interfaith Peace Conference
A Pakistan link Report

Speakers at the Second World Interfaith Peace Conference, Islamabad

Islamabad: The second world interfaith peace conference organized by Saba Education and Welfare Trust in collaboration with National Commission on Human Development was held at the Marriot to promote harmony and understanding between different religions of the world. It was sponsored by Akram Chaudhry of World Link Travel and Abu Bakr Vakil, a prominent businessman from the US.
Nasir Khan, Health Minister, who was the chief guest on the occasion, observed that President Pervez Musharraf's vision of 'enlightened moderation' was a step forward towards achieving the objective of peaceful coexistence. Denouncing the concept of "clash of civilizations," he said Islam, which means peace, is the religion that guarantees the safety of life and property of Muslims and non Muslims in an Islamic State. The minister said it was the responsibility of all politicians and leaders of the world to take the lead role in promoting peace and harmony.
Minister of State and Chairman of National Commission for Human Development (NCHD), Dr. Nasim Ashraf, addressing the large gathering, said terrorism does not recognize any religion or geographical boundaries and all religions today stand united to defeat this scourge. "We all are children of the same faith and every religion values justice as backbone of all global peace, without which the global peace will remain a dream, " he added.
He specially thanked Thomas L. Thorkelson of Southern California, USA, who is a Mormon Christian by faith, for donating $15,000 for the construction of a mosque in the US which was chaired by Saba Aslam Education and Welfare Trust's Chairman, Saghir Aslam. Tom also donated 3 ambulances to Saba Trust.
Earlier, Thomas L. Thorkelson, Sheila Thorkelson, and John Jones from the US spoke about the commonalties between Christianity and Islam.
Mr. Thorkelson said that God recognizes the virtues of people. He acknowledged that the Holy Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) was the greatest religious leader of all times.

A group photo of the organizers and participants in the conference. Mr Saghir Aslam is second from left. Next to him is Mr Abu

Tom Thorkelson also made arrangements for Saghir Aslam to meet Dr. Jackson chief executive officer and president of Dessert International. Since their meeting Dr. Jackson has been donating eye lenses and other equipment, including a much needed camera for eye operations at a cost around $30,000. Total donations in equipment and lenses have exceeded $100,000 to help many poor people in far flung villages.
Sheila O’ Leary made arrangements for Mr. Aslam to meet Jason Hamlin founder and President of the Genesis Project whose mission is to feed the hungry around the world. Mr. Jason Hamlin was so impressed with Saba Trust’s 40 years of service and track record in serving the poor and the needy that he immediately made a commitment to Mr. Aslam that he would supply food for poor Pakistanis. Within days Jason Hamlin started collecting food to be donated to Saba Trust. Soon a 40-foot container full of food will leave for Pakistan to be distributed to the poor and needy.
Editor of "The News" Fadh Husain highlighted the role of the media in promoting the message of peace and understanding amongst the religions of the world.
Ex-minister for sport, minorities and youth affairs, Col. (r) S.K Tresslor, observed that God's blessings do not differentiate between religions and geographical boundaries.
Abu Bakr Vakil, a prominent businessman from US, also spoke on the occasion.
Speaking on the occasion, Saba Aslam Eduction and Welfare Trust Chairman Saghir Aslam remarked, "It is through these practical steps that we can promote interfaith harmony in the world.
“We need to work together to build bridges on daily basis and continue dialogues and meetings of different faiths throughout the year on regular scheduled basis and Saba Trust will take the lead and provide a platform for regular meetings.”
Concluding his remarks, Saghir Aslam asked everyone attending the conference to make a pledge to work for better understanding among all religions and for peace and friendship between all to make this world a better place for us all.He paused and asked everyone three times to pledge to work together for peace and harmony “to make this world a better place for all of us.”
Mr. Aslam stated that Saba Trust has been instrumental in distributing clothes and other gifts to over 12 million people of different faiths including many Christian Churches and different countries including neighboring Afghanistan and Iran after their Bam earthquake in December of 2004.
The Chairman of Saba Education and Welfare Trust stated that the Trust has also distributed 15 million rupees worth of new clothes including T-shirts, sweatshirts, warm jackets, children's clothes, gift boxes that were donated by Mission Viejo Christian Women's group through the efforts of Br.Mahboob Akhtar. All these items were distributed in the four provinces in collaboration with over 100 well-established organizations such as National Commission on Human Development, Rotary International, Edhi Foundation, Islamic Relief Worldwide and many Christian churches.
Saba Trust has also set up over two dozen computer labs in different parts of Pakistan including the Christian community, some in remote villages such as Sakurdo and Balochistan. Many students are benefiting with NIT education on a daily basis and Saba Trust staff monitors the computer labs regularly.
“With Allah's Blessings the Saba Aslam Education and Welfare Trust has donated 4000 computers and approximately 1 lakh rupees worth printers, copiers and fax machines to different schools and poor and needy students that were donated to us by Siraj Bukhari of Forbes computers,” Mr Aslam said..
During the last 40 years Saba Trust founders have helped 5000 families with Micro Credit to setup their own businesses.” One example is where a barbershop owner whom we loaned $1,000, one of our largest loan. This barbershop owner was working for someone else and was earning 1700 rupees per month. Now running his new business with Allah's Blessing he is earning more than 100,00 Rupees per month. He has already paid back the loan and the money has been loaned to another entrepreneur, best way of Sadaq Jaria. $1000 is loaned over and over again. He expects it to double next year as he is going to add another chair and hire more people. Saba Trust has also set up sewing centers,” Mr Saghir Aslam stated.

At the end, shields were presented to all participants by Saghir Aslam.
The Saba Aslam Education and Welfare Trust has been working to promote education, self-reliance and prosperity amongst people of Pakistan for the last 40 years.


Editor: Akhtar M. Faruqui
2004 . All Rights Reserved.