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Published Date: May 26, 2015

Promotion of cultural heritage stressed for interfaith

ISLAMABAD: The assertion by some people that the history of this region started with the arrival of Mohammad bin Qasim is not correct. The history of the region is 9,000 years old during which people belonging to different religions lived together peacefully for centuries.

This was stated by former ambassador Shafqat Kakakhel at a seminar, “Roots of religious tolerance in Pakistan.” The event was organised by the Sustainable Development Policy Institute on Monday.

Mr Kakakhel said religious tolerance and interfaith harmony could be promoted in the country by highlighting the culture of the region.

“The future of the 190 million people of Pakistan is directly related with religious tolerance. Those who believe in religious violence have been attacking people belonging to different religions, including Muslims. They even did not spare innocent students of the Army Public School, Peshawar,” he said.

He said Quaid-i-Azam believed in religious harmony and had assured people belonging to different religions that they would be free to practice their religion without any fear in Pakistan.

“The National Vision-2025 also states that people belonging to all religions will get equal rights in the country. We have to ensure interfaith harmony to achieve the goals of the creation of Pakistan,” he said.

Lok Virsa executive director Dr Fouzia Saeed said in the past people had different identities such as South Asians, Pakistanis, Muslims and even gender-based and occupational identities.

“Now the identity of Muslims has overpowered all other identities and those belonging to other religions are put in the category of ‘others’. But we should not distance ourselves from our culture and the pluralistic past,” she said.

Dr Kamran Ahmad, who has written a book, “9,000 years of spiritual heritage of Pakistan”, said space was shrinking for people belonging to different sects and there was bloodshed in the name of religion.

“We lived a peaceful life till a few decades ago when things started deteriorating when we tried to force our religion on others. As long as the majority of people will justify extremism, the issue of violence in the name of religion will not be resolved,” he said.

A documentary, “The story of banyan tree” was also shown on the occasion.