Nishtar Hall resounds with cheers

PESHAWAR: The interfaith cultural evening held at Nishtar Hall on Christmas would have made the father of the nation happy as a perfect birthday gift for him seeing Muslims and non-Muslims sitting and smiling together.Despite security challenges, the provincial culture department in collaboration with Sarhad Tourism Corporation hosted a unique interfaith cultural show for the non-Muslim Pakistanis on Christmas, perhaps for the first time in the history of the province.Christmas Day and birthday of the founder of Pakistan Quaid-i-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah fall on the same day, so why not celebrate it together. “Today we are united with the minorities of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa in Christmas and Quaid’s birthday celebrations,” said provincial culture minister Mian Iftikhar Hussain after cutting the Christmas cake along with the religious heads representing Christians, Sikh and Hindus living in Peshawar.

The show was a manifestation of the religious harmony and cultural unity. The minister made it clear that those living in the province might have different faiths, but they share one culture.A large number of colourfully attired Christians and other non-Muslim Pakistanis, invited as guests to the function, were entertained with a medley of songs, comedy and poetry. Santa Claus distributed gifts among the children.Arun Sabdiyal thanked the provincial government for giving them so much honour and sharing the celebrations. He said that minorities felt as much patriotic and proud as any other Pakistani.Speaking to a jam-packed hall of people from different religions, the culture minister said that such cultural shows were a way to express that people of Peshawar were alive and kicking despite facing spate of terrorist attacks. He said that culture would keep them alive and give them strength to fight enemies of people and this land. He made it clear that culture did not only mean music, but it was evident in all the manifestations of our life.

“We should not forget that our land is bleeding and we can not just sit quiet. Our culture will be our source of strength in this fight. We will teach a lesson to those who lay their dirty hands on our homeland and let me know that you are with me.” When Mr Iftikhar appealed for support of the youth after an emotional speech, the entire audience stood up in support of the minister who had lost his son in the fight against terror and the Nishtar Hall resounded with applause.The audience burst into laughter again and again when comedy skits of Zahirullah – popularly known for his Pashto-dubbed CDs of English movies Mr. Beans, Shrek etc – were presented. Whereas the songs of famous Pashto singers Irfan Khan, Karan Khan, Hamayun Khan, Musarrat Momand and others charged the youth in the audience to dance to the beats. The singers enthralled the audience with their famous songs and Bashir Pukhtunyaar also satisfied the literary taste of the audience by presenting Ghani Khan’s famous poem ‘Kismat’.The show that started under the title ‘Drun Pakhtun’ (honourable Pashtun) ended with a nationalistic song symbolizing the entire nation was one against terrorism.Secretary tourism and culture Azam Khan said on this occasion that there was no better way to celebrate the birthday of the founder of Pakistan than acknowledging and appreciating the non-Muslim Pakistanis on this day. They were reminded by this gesture that that our joys and sorrows are the same and one. We would continue to build up interfaith harmony in the province – Dawn