We are delighted to present an interview with Father Emmanuel Parvez. The interview took place during our trip to Pansara, Pakistan, at the end of 2019, beginning of 2020.
Father Emmanuel Parvez (FP): my name is Emmanuel Parvez and first of all, I would like to thank Father Antoine and the others for helping us to build a few houses and pay the salaries of the teachers. I am very glad that you helped us and now I would like to say that we need to build more houses, at least a village of 200. We need help to build them.
Father Antoine Coelho (FC): How many houses have you built already?
FP: I have built 65 houses. 65 families have new houses with kitchen, bathroom and they live with dignity and respect.
FC: and what were the conditions of this families before moving to theses houses?
FP: these families were in places like slums, with no real home and living in many diseases. Now they came to this nice place. The children go to school also.
FC: and how much does it cost nowadays to build a house?
FP: I would say in between to 8.000€ and 10.0000€. I would say you can build a very nice house with two bedrooms, toilet, bathroom and a kitchen.
FC: but before it was 7.000 euros
FP: yesFC: so what happened Father?
FP: it is because the new government have put a lot of taxes everywhere. So if I buy bricks it is very expensive. Everything has become very expensive, inflation rate is very high now in Pakistan.
FP: I would like also to talk about the tournament. I invite football teams from all over the country. Every year 32 football teams come. We give them lodging, food and transport. And for one week they are in peace and harmony. This is to bring the youth away from terrorism, drugs and violence and invite them to live in peace with others with mutual respect, love and harmony.
FC: so it means that you use that tournament of football between people of different religions to bring a new mentality of peace and harmony in Pakistan.
FP: correct, this is the aim of the tournament, Hindus, Muslims, Protestants, Christians, all can live in peace in this country. We want to go away from terrorism and all that violence.
FC: and these teams, they come from Penjab?
FP: there are 5 provinces in Pakistan, in the North, we have Khyber, Baloutchistan, in the South, we have Sindh and Gilgit Baltistan, and in the center Penjab. The teams represent the whole country.
FC: including regions that are particularly known because of religious fanaticism?
FP: this is correct. Teams also come from there and the players told us that when they are in their area they cannot walk in peace and freedom. But here, they find peace and freedom and they would like it to be extended to all Pakistan.
FC: can you give us the testimony of some young Muslims that have been part of this tournament?
FP: yes, some Muslims are from Baloutchistan, near the Afghan border, they told us that this tournament has open their eyes, that peace is the best gift of God that we must cherish. So this is what Muslims from these extreme areas near Afghanistan have come to tell us.
FC: when have you started this tournament Father?
FP: I started exactly in 2000. This tournament, next month will be the 20th in Pakistan.
FC: and you started with how many teams?
FP: first I started with 8 teams. Then there were 16. And then 32 and now this year 60 teams have asked to include them. So I do not know how to accommodate all those people. Perhaps we will have some friendly matches first. The tournament is increasing and increasing. And more and more people are coming.
FC: what is the attitude of religious and civil authorities as far as this tournament is concerned?
FP: I have invited Imans, Mullahs, political figures, the Nunce, the Bishops. All come happy and everyone who comes is really transformed with joy. I remember the Nunce, the nunce came and say, “I would like to stay here. It is such a nice tournament”. And then there were two friends from England, they say, “ this is the best you can do Father for your country”.
FC: Father, you told me that one of your dreams would be to bring a team of young players from Europe. Could you tell us ore? Do you want to say something to the young in Europe?
FP: I would like to invite European players to come here to see the beautiful and peaceful face of Pakistan. Most people in our country are peaceful people. There is only 5% or something of fanatics of terrorists, but most of the population want to live in peace.