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Indian pilgrims overwhelmed in Pakistan

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Islamabad: Pilgrims from India who arrived in Pakistan at Katas Raj temples have called for eternal peace and warm relations between India and Pakistan.

“I am waiting for the day when citizens from both the countries living in the border areas can cross onto each other’s soil during their morning walk without any fear and barriers,” Dawn online quoted Sushma Gupta as saying in a ceremony at Katas Raj temples on Saturday.

Gupta was one of 124 Hindu pilgrims from India who arrived at Katas Raj in Katas village of Chakal district of the Punjab province on Friday under strict security.

“When we left for Pakistan, we were curious throughout the journey about how we would be received, and what Pakistan would be like. But when we reached Wagah border, we were left stunned by the love and warmth with which we were greeted,” Gupta said.

“Coming here, we found everything was same. Our language, culture, dress and our fields are all same,” Gupta said.

A cultural event was arranged at the temples on Friday night, during which Hindu artists from Sindh sang bhajans.

The recitation of the poetry of Saint Lal Shahbaz Qalandar was particularly well received.

Speaking at the ceremony on Saturday, Evacuee Trust Property Board chairperson Mohammad Siddiqul Farooq said the people of both the countries have always dreamt of everlasting peace and love between the two nations, which would only be possible if the governments took practical steps to attain peace.

“Although Partition caused irreversible loss to the people of both the countries, Partition is a reality and now we must accept this stark reality and move on. The best way to move forward could be that we open our hearts to each other,” he said.

Farooq said the ETPB is working to improve the facilities at Katas Raj temples. He also vowed to increase the number of pilgrims in the future.

“I am happy to tell you that last December 85 pilgrims came from India but this time, 124 people have arrived.”

Shiv Pratab Bajaj, the leader of the pilgrims’ caravan, said he would not forget the love and affection showered upon the people by the Pakistani side.

“Last December I demanded a hostel for pilgrims and this time, I am left overjoyed to see that construction is going on,” he said.

The pilgrims were also presented with gifts including dry fruits and shields.

Neelum Sharma and her husband Aditya from New Delhi were among the visiting pilgrims. They said this was their first time in the country and that they wished to visit Pakistan every year.

“When I left for Pakistan, my bedridden uncle asked me to pay homage to his motherland,” Neelam said.(IANS)

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Women of Pakistan Protest Against Workplace Harassment, Child Marriage

Leader of the Opposition Shahbaz Sharif lauded "the incredible work our women are doing to strengthen their families, communities and the country"

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Following this, a National Security Committee was also held to discuss Sharif's
Pakistan Flag, wikimedia commons

On the occasion of International Women’s Day, women took to the streets across Pakistan on Friday to protest against sexual harassment in the workplace, child marriage ‘honour killings, wage inequalities and limited political representation.

Organisers hope that the “aurat march” (women’s march) and “aurat azadi march” (women’s liberation march) will draw attention to the struggle for reproductive, economic, and social justice across in Pakistan, reports the Guardian.

The first “Aurat March” was held last year in Karachi; this time, the rally has been extended to more cities, including Lahore, Multan, Faisalabad, Larkana and Hyderabad.

The aim is to reach ordinary women in factories, homes and offices, says Nighat Dad, an “aurat march” organiser in Lahore.

“We want an organic movement by women demanding equal access to justice and ending discrimination of all kinds.”

Speakers at the Lahore march ranged from a woman fighting to reform marriage laws to the women who worked on the landmark Punjab Domestic Workers’ Act — a legislation that outlaws child labour in homes and provides maternity benefits to workers.

Another activist, Leena Ghani, noted that Pakistani women have a history of taking to the streets, famously during military dictator Zia ul-Haq’s martial law in the 1980s.

Krishna Kumari works in her office in Hyderabad, Pakistan, Feb. 12, 2018. VOA

While Pakistan has made major strides towards gender equality, poorer, marginalised women and transgender citizens continue to struggle, Ghani added.

Designer Shehzil Malik created a series of striking posters for the “aurat march” that counter typical representations of Pakistani women as docile and subservient.

Women are also protesting against discriminatory policies in universities, where male and female students are afforded different levels of freedom, the Guardian said.

A Pakistani university recently caused a furore on social media by banning women from wearing skinny jeans and sleeveless shirts.

Also Read- Originality is a Dichotomous Terminology, Says Megastar Amitabh Bachchan

In his message on Friday, Prime Minister Imran Khan reaffirmed his government’s commitment to providing women a safe environment so that they could contribute to the country’s development, Dawn news reported.

“We reaffirm our commitment to ensuring women a secure and enabling environment to play their rightful role in our nation’s development.”

Leader of the Opposition Shahbaz Sharif lauded “the incredible work our women are doing to strengthen their families, communities and the country”. (IANS)