Natural disasters often separate loved ones, but they may also bring people of diverse cultures and differing viewpoints closer together. For example, the deadly 1999 earthquake in Turkey prompted Greece to help its Turkish neighbors, as both countries put aside their longstanding differences to help the victims. And in Indonesia the thirty-year conflict between the country’s government and Aceh separatists was halted as the December 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami that ravaged Aceh province led the opposing groups to sign a peace treaty.
And more recently, on October 8, 2005 in Kashmir, which both Pakistan and India claim as their own, a devastating earthquake occurred, causing the two countries to come together in a mutual relief effort.
After the quake produced widespread destruction across the region, Pakistan accepted twenty-five tons of food, medicine, tents, blankets, and plastic sheets from India to help the victims in Azad (Pakistan-controlled) Kashmir. According to an October 31 report in Pan India News, Pakistani President General Pervez Musharraf stated, “For earthquake relief operations, India can send anything in any amount, in any quantity and in any form. We want relief supplies. We have opened relief centers at five points on the LoC [the so-called ‘Line of Control’ or de facto border between Pakistan- and India-controlled Kashmir]. We would like anybody from Kashmir coming to this side to bring relief goods.”
Another promising development arising from the quake was Israel’s offer to send rescue teams and relief supplies to Kashmir’s quake-stricken areas, where many Muslims reside. This move represents a step toward positive dialog between the Jewish state and the Islamic world. In response to this improvement in relations, Pakistan’s government stated that humanity must concentrate on things that assist in reconciliation instead of those that lead to confrontation.
Discord between members of various religious and ethnic groups continues to impact many people around the world. But now as we move into the Golden Age, profound changes are taking place and a new trend seems to be emerging whereby individuals, groups and even governments are helping those in need naturally and with less bureaucratic red-tape than in previous decades.
Moreover, from studying history we know that sectarianism complicates the human mind and sometimes brings entire nations into conflict with each other. But through God’s loving kindness, religions, cultures and governments around the globe are beginning to work more closely together. This change is necessary in order to save civilization, replenish the Earth’s environment and create a better world for future generations. Exemplifying the enlightened moderation that reflects this trend and that has given his country new prominence on the world stage, President Musharraf says, “The time is ripe to move ahead on Kashmir: I’m for demilitarization.”♥