Participants of a peace conference organised by Bardasht have recommended collaborative efforts by government and civil society to address multiple issues threatening peace of the country. Speakers including government officials, religious scholars, civil society activists and politicians shed light on contributions of social and economic issues as well as internal and external threats to peace in the country and stressed the need to start an effort on all fronts to bring back harmony and unity that was the hallmark of areas now facing worst form of ethnic or sectarian violence.
They highlighted the importance of creating awareness among all segments of the society as sustainable peace is directly linked with change in social mindset. They said that peace will remain a dream unless and until the society starts rejecting all extremist or violent concepts. The termed population explosion, internal and external elements fuelling extremism in the society, poverty and bad governance responsible for depleting law and order situation in the country.
The conference was part of a series of peace conferences organised by Bardasht nationwide in collaboration with the UN Women. The four peace conferences organised in provincial capitals of the country were based on three themes including natural disaster, complex emergencies and women progressive legislations.
Interior Minister Rehman Malik was the chief guest on the last and sixth conference organised in the capital. Instead of seminars and conferences, he suggested practical steps to bringing sustainable peace in the country.
Rehman Malik said that Pakistani government has the evidence of the involvement of foreign hands in Balochistan situation. He said that Pakistan is facing an imposed war, fighting terrorism at the cost of its people for world peace.
In her welcome note, Bardasht Chairperson Nilofar Bakhtiar shared the challenges faced by the organisation in hosting Peace Conferences in difficult times and sensitive areas.
The participants were also briefed about the recommendations drawn from previous four peace conferences in the provinces. Regarding complex emergencies, the provinces urged the government and policy makers to revise their strategies and policies instead of enforcing imported foreign policy and stop turning blind eye to the terrorists and extremists.
They demanded that laws related to terrorism should be reformed and strengthened ammunition should not be accessible for general public. The provinces suggested basic economic and health facilities to all. They opined that media stop showing vulgarity, hatred and violence and recommended religious tolerance building on community and national level.
To control natural disaster, Peace Conferences recommended coordination at district, provincial and national level for planning and provision of related sectorial guidelines and strict implementation of building codes. Another suggestion was to include disaster management, protection and rehabilitation should be included in curriculum and strengthening of volunteerism mechanism was also considered as a powerful tool to tackle disaster situation at all levels.
Recommendation related to women highlighted the dire need to improve implementation mechanism of the pro-women legislation passed during last five years. It is also demanded that the sale of acid should be strictly monitored to control increasing number of acid burn cases in the country.
The conference participants in Punjab demanded development of a software whereby complaints can be conveyed to the higher level to keep an eye on lower level police officials. They also said that women should become part of the judiciary, administrative and legislative cadres.
The other five conferences were organised in the past three months in Lahore, Karachi, Quetta Peshawar and Islamabad. The conference held last week was to be held in Gilgit-Baltistan, but could not be held as per administration advise.
The closing session of the daylong deliberation was chaired by Senator Jahangir Badar, Leader of the House in the Senate. Alice Shakalford, Country Director, UN Women was special guest. The event was also attended by leaders of all five provincial chapters of the organisation who read their conference reports in the evening session.
Experts who spoke on the occasion included Director PMO Brigadier Tariq Zaman, AIG Motorway Police Farooq Azam, Professor Salma Malik, renowned activist Samar Minallah, Advocate Humera Masehuddin and Allama Ayyaz Qadri. Nigar Nazar from Gogi Studios made special cartoons for the event.