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Pakistan is as tired of terrorism as we are: Sri Sri

Last updated on: March 15, 2012 12:35 IST

'We were warmly welcomed by many'

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The purpose of Sri Sri Ravi Shankar's recent visit to Pakistan was to ensure people-to-people contact between the two countries, says the spiritual leader. Priyanka listens in

If the people and religious leaders of India and Pakistan come together, politicians will have to follow soon, believes spiritual leader Sri Sri Ravi Shankar.

He made the comments during an interactive session with the media on Wednesday evening, after completing a three-day visit to Pakistan.

Sri Sri was responding to claims that any attempt to bring the people of the two countries together will invariably get politicised.

"We entered Pakistan through the Wagah border by foot. We were warmly welcomed by many youth," he narrated.

Sri Sri began his journey by inaugurating the Art of Living Peace Centre in Islamabad. Just before leaving for New Delhi on Wednesday evening, he inaugurated another Peace Centre in Karachi.

Two more Peace Centres are scheduled to be inaugurated in Peshawar and Pashtun in a couple of weeks.

This is Sri Sri's second trip to Pakistan, and the first in eight years. "When floods hit Pakistan in 2010, I wanted to go there but could not get a visa. I am glad I got it this time," he said.

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Image: A file photo of Sri Sri Ravi Shankar in Pakistan


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'Politicians often base their vote banks on conflict'

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Speaking about the reception he received in Pakistan, Sri Sri said, "People were so excited and I was welcomed warmly. In fact, it was just the kind of reception I get here in India."

He explained that the purpose of his visit was to ensure people-to-people contact between the two countries, which, he said, will greatly improve relations between the two countries.

The visit was a social and spiritual initiative to enable people from India and Pakistan to bond on cultural and social pretexts.

"Politicians often base their vote banks on conflict, and divide people by perpetrating hatred. But if we can make people aware, and if the common people and dharma gurus (spiritual leaders) from the two countries come together, it can greatly improve relations between the two countries," he said.

On being asked if he would initiate communication with the Pakistan Taliban, Sri Sri said that he wouldn't be himself visiting areas which were strongholds of the group. Instead, nearly 40 trained teachers of the Art of Living ashram will speak to them and conduct programmes on yoga and breathing exercises.

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Image: A file photo of Sri Sri Ravi Shankar in Pakistan


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'They are as tired of terrorist activities as we are'

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When queried on how the people of Pakistan responded to his programmes on yoga, Sri Sri said that he received a tremendous reception during his visit to the Forman Christian College.

"It was a huge gathering of a few thousand people and it was beyond our estimate. The largest hall in the college was housefull," he said.

Touched by the response from the youth, Sri Sri expressed confidence that the people of Pakistan are tired of terrorism and being seen as a state harbouring terrorists.

"They are as tired of terrorist activities as we are. Many have come to me and said that Islam is not about terror," Sri Sri said.

The ground realities in Pakistan have changed since his last visit in 2004, pointed out Sri Sri

"The last time I visited, we were confined to our hotel rooms for most of the stay. But we could roam freely this time and talk to the people," he said.

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