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Islamabad-based young man, Raj Kumar has recently won the prestigious ‘Emerging young leader award’ in Washington.

The award was distributed by the US State Department among 10 young leaders from various countries. Raj Kumar became the first Pakistani among those 10 young leaders, who have been bestowed with this recognition.

He now plans to return to his home province to start working for peace, harmony and education.

Gujar attended the 10th Global Peace Youth Festival, hosted by India in 2015. He represented Pakistan in that event. “I know some fine authors in India and Afghanistan and I hope two to three literary figures from each of these countries will attend the festival.”

He is trying to secure sponsorship from the US as he is also general secretary of the Pakistan-US Alumni Network (PUAN). “Organising the festival totally depends on funding.”

After his meeting with US Ambassador David Hale on Tuesday, Gujar says he has high hopes for the funding.

According to Kumar, he will organise his shows in 12 cities of Pakistan where PUAN chapters exist.

The young activist, who spent five years in Islamabad to complete his fully-funded university education on scholarship, is concerned about religious intolerance at his birthplace.

“Umerkot and Tharparkar used to be an epitome of religious harmony. But, now during the past five years I have seen changes in the attitude [of the people].” For him the centuries-old peace seems to be losing ground to extremism and intolerance.

“What happened to Irfan Maseeh [a sanitary worker who died in Umerkot allegedly because doctors refused to treat him in the hospital] is really alarming.”

Gujar says he will start his efforts for restoring harmony in his hometown by arranging a peace-builders conference as a first step.

Some of his previous US-funded projects include promoting peace through music, sports, art and dialogue, and empowering women through knowledge and organisation.

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