Eye-catching rickshaws promote peace in Pakistan

Syed Ali Abbas Zaidi

One was covered with white and orange peace symbols, with the words ''Peace Not Pieces'' painted on the front in English. Another has images of local newspaper articles discussing violence in the country that are overlaid with colorful flowers and slogans preaching peace.

Some have signs that light up at night that say ''Aman Sawary,'' or ''Peace Rickshaw,'' along with a steel heart with wings that says ''Love, Peace, Tolerance.''

Mohammed Salahuddin, a driver of one of the peace rickshaws, says the campaign has been good for his business.

''People like the design and choose my rickshaw over others when they have a choice,'' he said.

Ironically, Salahuddin and another peace rickshaw driver interviewed by The Associated Press couldn't read the slogans painted on their vehicles because they are illiterate _ a common problem in a country where the literacy rate hovers near 50 percent.

Mohammed Younis, a bus driver sipping a cup of tea in the Sohrab Goth truck yard, said he thought the message of peace sent by the rickshaws was vital.

''If people understood the culture of peace, they wouldn't be killing 50 people every day,'' said Younis.

Zaidi said he is also in discussions with Pakistan's ambassador to the U.S., Sherry Rehman, about possibly putting a peace rickshaw in front of the Pakistani Embassy in Washington.

''We know that the rickshaws are not going to solve the problem of violence in Karachi, but hopefully they will play their part in building a culture of peace,'' said Zaidi. ''On the tree of peace building, we hope they will be a leaf.''

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