Bengaluru, June 10: For over 2 months, The Art of Living faculty members and volunteers in Pakistan have been receiving threat letters and calls from the Taliban. The calls and letters accuse the volunteers of ‘conspiring against Islam’. According to a volunteer from Pakistan, “Many youth have given up the path of violence after undergoing the Art of Living programs and this has been perceived to be a threat by the Taliban.” (name has been withheld due to security concerns.)
The authorities in Pakistan have been informed about the threats received. The calls first began after March 8 when 15 gunmen had vandalized the Art of Living center and set it on fire in Bani-Gala on the outskirts of Islamabad, Pakistan.
For the last 13 years, stress management techniques, breathing and yoga exercises are being taught as part of the programs, which are purely secular in nature. Art of Living has 10,000 members in Pakistan. The Art of Living has been extremely sensitive of religious sentiments in Pakistan and other Islamic countries while taking these programs. The majority of Muslims have no objection to this. Some clerics also have done the programs and appreciated these peace-building measures. Seventeen Art of Living’s trained Ambassadors of Peace have been working to bring communities together to create a sense of a one-world-family and to bring peace & solace to the population.
In the past, Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, founder, The Art of Living, has extended invitations for a dialogue to Taliban leaders and all concerned to make South Asia a safer and more harmonious region.
Gurudev has visited Pakistan in 2004 and 2012 and witnessed an overwhelming response from both the people of Pakistan as well as the media.
Since the last 13 years, The Art of Living has worked with the objective of bringing the people of Pakistan and India closer and to create a peace building process between the two countries through service initiatives, cultural programs, inter-faith dialogue and conferences.
Many Pakistanis have been visiting the Art of Living center in India regularly. Good-will delegations from both countries have visited each other.
In April 2009, the Art of Living Pakistan provided aid to Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in the Swat valley and other areas in the war against terrorism.
During the earthquake in 2005 and floods in 2010, The Art of Living volunteers in Pakistan provided relief and rehabilitation to an estimated 100,000 people through trauma relief camps, medical camps and food distribution centers.