Published Date: Jan 26, 2019
Tolerant society can ensure equal rights and opportunities to citizens
ISLAMABAD: Speakers at a seminar on Friday said a tolerant society based on the principles of interfaith harmony can ensure social inclusion by providing all the citizens equal opportunities to grow irrespective of their religion or faith.
The seminar, ‘Saiban-i-Pakistan for social inclusion’ was organised by the Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI).
The speakers said social harmony and tolerance was achievable only by appreciating different cultures and traditions in the land of diversity. They emphasised focusing on humanity more than on matters that created divides.
Speakers say social harmony and tolerance achievable only by appreciating different cultures and traditions
Some speakers objected to addressing people from the Christian and Hindu communities as minorities instead of being called Pakistanis but they also stressed the need for the majority to change its mindset for equal rights for all citizens.
“We need to move forward from words like tolerance and acceptance and learn to respect people of different races and religions,” said former secretary education Prof Mahardad, who belongs to the Bahai community.
He said interfaith harmony cannot be achieved in Pakistan until some structural problems such as interpretation of religion, relationship between religion and politics, legitimacy/illegitimacy of violence and secured and friendly social inclusion were addressed.
“We need to change our behaviour and attitude to restore peace and harmony,” he said.
Dr Shafqat Munir from the SDPI said interfaith harmony was a conceivable condition, signifying peaceful coexistence among practitioners of various religious beliefs aimed at eliminating the possibility of discord, violent or nonviolent.
Fahmeeda Saleem from the Christian Studies Centre said the growing awareness on interfaith harmony and the urge for its realisation exhibited the resolve at the national level to get rid of hate and discrimination.
Interfaith harmony contributing to peace and prosperity would continue to remain a desirable objective.
Khursheed Nadeem, a columnist, said to ensure a peaceful and tolerant society, interfaith dialogue was seen as an option. The dynamics of interfaith dialogue are bound to be complex and difficult but doable.
He said the interfaith dialogue meant for people belonging to different religions or to different groups of the same religion to discuss and debate common matters and cooperate with each other without trying to impose their thoughts and beliefs upon others.
He said interfaith dialogue was not a religious argument but a way to listen to each other patiently as dialogue is not a debate to win or lose.
“Dialogue is not an activity of making concessions. That is to say engaging into a dialogue does not mean to negotiate or to seek a compromise and concession. During a dialogue, parties should not mention things that would hurt the others. On the contrary, they should discuss common points,” Mr Nadeem added.
He suggested revisiting the religious teaching methods which at the moment created people with their own sects instead of tolerant Muslims. He said like other Islamic countries such as Turkey the state should have a regulatory mechanism for religious seminaries.
Mehga Arora, a representative of the Hindu community, said Pakistan belonged to all those who were living in it. In the past, religion was used as a tool to discriminate and commit violence against minorities. Multiple misperceptions exist among followers of different religions about one another which should be removed by enhancing interaction and dialogue among religious communities.