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Robin Marsh, secretary general, UPF-United Kingdom
Hon. Keith Best, UPF-UK Chair and former MP
Hon. Keith Best, UPF-UK Chair and former MP
Lt. Gen. Abdul Qayyum, a former senator from Pakistan
Lt. Gen. Abdul Qayyum, a former senator from Pakistan
Lt. Gen. Abdul Qayyum addresses the audience
Mr. Shazada Hayat, president of the United International Communities Forum
Mr. Ishtiaq Chaudhry, philanthropist and chairman of Al Noor Foods
Mr. Ishtiaq Chaudhry, philanthropist and chairman of Al Noor Foods
Mr. Ishtiaq Chaudhry receives the Ambassador for Peace award
(Left to Right) Robin Marsh, Keith Best, Lt Gen Abdul Qayyum, Mr. Ishtiaq Chaudhry
The panelists and participants

London, UK – UPF-UK hosted a third forum in its series on “Global South Perspectives on the Russia - Ukraine War and Consequent Geopolitical Tensions” on October 31, 2023. The event was held at UPF premises at Lancaster Gate in London, and online. Featured speakers included former senator from Pakistan, Lt. Gen. Abdul Qayyum, and UPF-UK Chair and former MP Hon. Keith Best, both seasoned political analysts. In addition to the issues of war in Ukraine, the recent eruption of the Israel-Hamas war entered into the discussions.

“’Now may be the most dangerous time the world has seen in decades’ – not my words but those of Jamie Dimon, the world’s most powerful banker, chief of JP Morgan,” Mr. Best said. “Global conflict can happen when what appears to be at first unrelated events all coincide and bring forth a cataclysm. Without creating a sense of despair, I shall indicate why we are closer to Armageddon than at any time in my lifetime." Mr. Best drew parallels to other conflicts, like World War I, that  arose unpredictably in periods of tension.

He concluded, “As Mother Teresa said, ‘Today, if we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other – that man, that woman, that child is my brother or my sister.’ Or, as summed up by Martin Luther King Jr., ‘We must learn to live together as brothers or perish together as fools.’ That is why UPF reaches out to others, especially those who are different in color or creed and seeks to bring them together, understand each other and live in harmony. Quite literally, our lives depend on it.”

Lt. Gen. Abdul Qayyum is a renowned geopolitical analyst and newspaper columnist, who appears regularly on Urdu television programs. He pointed out that there are currently 32 conflicts around the world. In times of war it is very difficult to cope with climate change, provide education and healthcare, or alleviate poverty. The absence of war, he said, is only a negative peace. It is essential to work on resolving points of conflict, since dormant conflicts can suddenly flare up into major conflagrations.

The general spoke of the need to renew the United Nations, especially to remove the five veto-wielding nations, and to uniformly implement UN resolutions and international law. He also emphasized the role of interfaith relations in bringing harmony between different cultural spheres. He described how the Mughal King Akbar brought an era of interfaith co-existence, called “absolute peace,” and a golden age of prosperity. 

An extended question-and-answer session following the panelists' speeches allowed wide participation from both the audience online and in the Lancaster Gate Ballroom. 

Finally, the Ambassador for Peace Award was presented to Mr. Ishtiaq Chaudhry, philanthropist and chairman of Al Noor Foods, following an introduction by Mr. Shazada Hayat, president of the United International Communities Forum. A native of Pakistan, Mr. Chaudhry came to the United Kingdom almost 30 years ago with nothing in his pocket. After building a successful business, he engaged in extensive humanitarian efforts for his home country, including setting up the Bewal International Hospital in Rawalpindi, and creating OPL, an organization to assist the people of Pakistan to vote in elections without threat of corruption or misrepresentation.

Mr. Chaudhry offered an inspiring and compassionate account of the need for philanthropy to alleviate poverty and ill health, while complimenting government service provision in Pakistan.

Mr. Keith Best: Speech Text Link here    Video Link here

Lt. Gen. Abdul Qayyum: Video Link here 

Mr. Ishtiaq Chaudhry: Video Link here

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