Whistlestop post – first wi-fi since arriving, and it’s a whirlwind of a trip. The subject of yesterday’s conference in Multan was the rehabilitation and education of people who have served time for terrorism offences, but the conversations we’ve been having here inevitably range wider than this.
Flying over Afghanistan at dawn
My own presentation (on multifaith activity in London, particularly initiatives relating to violent extremism) suffered from a lack of Plan B when slides failed to appear on the screen, but everyone else’s were pretty sharp. I fared better the previous evening on a live tv current affairs programme. Press coverage in Multan was positive, in spite of frequent and passionate questions at our press conference on the shortcomings of UK and US foreign policy.
I’ll add some photos now and post some reflections later.
Mehboob Sada, Director of the Christian Study Centre in Rawalpindi, where we were welcomed for our first night, with Toaha Qureshi (presenting Multan treats) and Arif Malik, supporting an interfaith moment, behind.
View from the conference table at Bahauddin Zakariya University: 46% of the students are women. Presentations included papers from Lahore and Peshawar.
Control room at the tv studio: Toaha being interviewed (top centre)
Meeting the gentlemen of the press in Multan
The beautiful Bahauddin Zakariya University (the "Green University") which is opening a new Environmental Sciences faculty. I wondered aloud whether Caroline Lucas MP might be interested - turns out she would be very welcome.
Our friendly armed escort while in Multan - security is high.
With Tahir Qureshi in front of the beautiful and much loved shrine to Sheikh Rukn-i Alam, who is famous here for his support for the rights of women and girls. Tahir is rarely off the 'phone. But he does find time for friends on the other side of the world: he is sending my son a cricket bat (we visited together in 2007) - a fabulous gift for a keen sportsman and one which will rekindle very happy memories of Multan for him.
Lahore was a dust cloud when we flew in this afternoon. It was clear by the evening - we walked through the streets to our dinner destination with a near full moon high in the sky.