An Australian Media underlined a Colombian journalist interview on Pakistan

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Australasia News, a digital agency of information of the Salesian Congregation of Don Bosco in English, underlined an interview made by the Colombian Radio Caracol to a Spaniard Salesian priest in Pakistan, Father Miguel Ruiz, who made a complete report of the situation after the assassination of Benazir Buttho. The interview was one of the first and complete notes about Pakistan at the moment. Here it is:

Building bridges in turbulent parts of the world

Lahore/Jerusalem: 29th December 2007 –Australasia News. Two of the world’s ‘hot spots’ are the Middle East and Pakistan. It is interesting to note two efforts by Salesians in those regions, best described as ‘building bridges’.

Chancing upon a radio interview between Radio Caracol (Bogotà, Colombia) and Fr Miguel (Lahore, Pakistan) in the wake of the assassination of Benazir Bhutto – one realises how a Salesian amidst the current turbulent and distressing situation in Pakistan was able to offer a finely balanced viewpoint between the facts he had at hand about the event (fewer than what the rest of the world knew through the media), his observations on what was happening around him, and a sense of what Don Bosco’s work is contributing and can contribute to building up Pakistan, even while other unknowns are attempting to destroy it.   

The interview took place shortly after the assassination – Fr Miguel was able to confirm Ms Bhutto’s death, and a range of other details the rest of the world now knows through the media. The interviewer was interested in the situation of the Catholic and generally Christian population (around 1 million in a population of some 165 million or more), their reactions to the campaign and the event. Fr Miguel pointed out that while it would have seemed that many Christians were attracted to Ms Bhutto’s campaign promising them bread and work and her reaching out to minority groups, the treatment of the Christian minority group by the current President has also been relatively fair.  Fr Miguel was also able to turn much of the interview into a positive ‘wrap’ for Salesian contribution to Pakistan.

In Jersualem another Salesian continues to ‘build bridges’, despite the political and humanitarian difficulties around that city.  The recent ANS news item admirably describes the ‘bridge building’ between Israelis and Palestinians that has long been the work of Fr Aurelio Mulè Stagno, through music.  Fr Aurelio does point out, however, that it was not all sweet harmony – things rarely are like that!

Despite the best of connections and good will, authorities did not give permission for one key choir member to come to Jerusalem (they were coming from Bethlehem), and another was given a permit which did not square with the known time of performance.  The Choir master’s dilemma was that he was dealing with a 4 part mixed-voice cantata where sometimes the singers had to split into 8 voices.  Just one missing component makes that problematic.

Of course, the premiere of this ‘Call to peace’ as the event was labelled, was a resounding success. Bridge builders, after all, overcome obstacles, and Fr Aurelio points out that despite finding certain attitudes more akin to walls than bridges, he offered all in attendance words of encouragement: “We pledge to build bridges rather than walls, which is why I organise these concerts in the first place, and also why I vow to continue regardless”.

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