ISLAMABAD: Political and rights activist Jalila Haider on Friday won the first-ever ‘Pakistan Peace Award’ for her work and contribution to bring tolerance and sustainable peace in the country.
The Peace Award was given to Ms Jalila here at the “Pakistan Peace Festival” organized by Pak Institute for Peace Studies (PIPS) at Pakistan National Council of Arts (PNCA).
Adviser to Prime Minister on Kashmir Affairs and Gilgit-Baltistan Qamar Zaman Kaira was the chief guest at both ceremonies of ‘Pakistan Peace Prize Award’ and ‘launch of Charter of Peace’.
The lawmakers, academicians, former diplomats, retired army officers, journalists, rights activists, and representatives of civil society participated in the event besides others. The other key events at the festival included “art exhibition, live theatre, music concert, poster competition and cultural dance performance.”
The Peace Award is an initiative by PIPS to acknowledge the contribution of Pakistani civil society in peacebuilding, peacemaking, and deradicalization through their works in varied fields. The work includes educating people through their writings or research, bringing social justice and prosperity, and advocating for gender, ethnic or racial equality.
Jalila Haider won the Peace Award after a tough scrutiny among 10 contestants by a panel of jury including Chairperson Council of Islamic Ideology Dr Qibla Ayaz, and Chairperson Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) Hina Jilani besides others.
Ms. Jalila is a human rights attorney and founder of “We the Humans – Pakistan”, a non-profit organization, working to lift local communities by strengthening opportunities for vulnerable women and children. She specializes in defending women’s rights and provides free counseling and legal services to poverty-affected women. She is the first female attorney of the Hazara community, an ethnic minority group in Balochistan. She is a strong supporter of protecting the rights of vulnerable communities and peace-building through rule of law and justice.
She is currently actively working on ground for rescue and relief efforts of flood-affected people in Balochistan.
While receiving the award, Jalila announced to donate the award money to flood victims.
Dream of “state like a mother” yet to come true
Speaking to the audience, Adviser to PM Qamar Zama Kaira deplored that the country’s dream of “state like a mother” has yet to come true. He urged the need for collective efforts to bring peace and tolerance in the society. “There are many people in the society who support values of peace and tolerance but their voices are not reflected in the mainstream.”
PPP leader Kaira underlined that the people having intolerant behaviours have a representation in this class-based society. He said that only bringing democracy was not the solution to the problem and intuitions would have to be delivered and they needed to change their behaviours. “We have yet to cover a new and long journey to bring peace and tolerance in the society,” he said, adding that they would have to fight against their own behaviours.
The adviser said that the society was still divided into ethnicities, sects and caste-based systems and the state, in the past, unfortunately used these divisions as a tool. He concluded that they would have to adopt the way that was espoused by the civilized world to bring sustainable peace in the society.
Democracy not name of only right to representation, election
Chairman HRCP Ms Jilani in her remarks said that the importance of the Peace Award was that it was going to give recognition to the efforts of civil society. Democracy is not the name of only right to representation and election, it comes with a package of values, she added.
Earlier, Director PIPS Muhammad Amir Rana in his earlier remarks said that violence was the biggest challenge Pakistan was facing today and the purpose of the launch of document of “Charter of Peace” was to make efforts to counter violent behaviours prevalent in the society and promote peace and tolerance. “We aim to keep this award an annual activity to be announced each year around International Peace Day (21 Sep),” he said while talking about the Peace Award.