Published Date: Jan 2, 2018
SDPI seminar calls for forging pluralistic society in Pakistan
ISLAMABAD: A new social contract for people of Pakistan was need of the hour to accommodate and preserve the interests and wellbeing of all citizens irrespective of their caste, creed, religion or any other social, political and cultural identity, said speakers at a seminar titled ‘Turning Diversity into Pluralism-Challenges and Way forward’ held by Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI) on Monday.
“Pakistan was a country coherently diverse and blessed with multiple identities but unfortunately, we could not transform this positive aspect of our society into pluralism due to short sighted policies that were imposed over the years by different regimes.
Ahmad Salim, renowned historian and scholar, opined that to create a truly pluralistic and inclusive society, the discrimination and biases against the religious minorities must be removed at every level, “including from the constitution of Pakistan”. He said that the new social contract should be based on the concept of equal rights and equal citizenship for all Pakistanis.
Naeem Ahmad Mirza, head of Aurat Foundation, identified a number of areas that negate the spirit of pluralism in Pakistan and suggested that the cultural, religious, societal and gender based gaps were the key issues to deny Pakistan and its people to get benefitted from pluralism. He said that Pakistani society was coherently pluralist but hate was injected by vested interests of few that wanted people to strengthen their illegitimate rule.
Romana Bashir, executive director Peace and Development Foundation (PDF), said: “The national population census was a huge opportunity to identify our strength as a diverse nation, which was lost because of exclusionist mindset and approach that was in placed to conduct this important task.”
She said that a number of religious identities including Sikh and Bahi community were placed in the column as ‘others’ and thus excluded from the process of national social, economic and political development. She said that legal and constitutional discrimination and hate speeches against the religious minorities must be stopped to make Pakistan a pluralistic society.
Dr Amineh A Hoti, researcher and educationist, highlighted the importance of education to inculcate the ideals of co-existence and acceptance of all through education. “We have models of education based on inclusive ideas and teachings and a highly talented young generation but unfortunately, we have not been able to mainstream the ideals of modern and progressive education.” She said that teachers training around the modern notions of education would also play a key role in turning Pakistan a pluralistic society.