The National Commission for Justice and Peace convened a regional conference at St. Patrick’s College Auditorium on Thursday, under the banner of “Freedom of Religion or Belief and International”.
Diverse religious voices gathered to address the growing concerns surrounding blasphemy cases and the surge in hate speech within the nation.
Advocate Shabnaz Wali, a prominent speaker at the conference, stressed the importance of Pakistan’s religious diversity, deeming it a source of strength for the country. She pointed out that the conference provided a platform for individuals from various faiths to discuss these challenges collectively.
Wali highlighted the urgent need for curriculum reform to foster mutual understanding and tolerance among different religious communities, citing the prevalence of hate speech directed towards the Hindu community.
Prof Manoj Chohan, president of the Sanatan Dharma International Society Pakistan, reinforced the importance of mutual respect and coexistence among people with differing beliefs. Emphasizing that Pakistan is a shared homeland, he underscored the vital role that diversity and coexistence play in the development of a great nation.
Prof Chohan strongly condemned those who propagate hatred, advocating the condemnation of such individuals, irrespective of their ethnicity, creed, or religious beliefs.
Senior journalist Zia Ur Rahman shed light on the role of disinformation and fake news propagated through social media platforms, leading to an increase in violence and tensions. He raised concerns about the deliberate dissemination of false information that often incites mob violence.
He emphasized that minorities are disproportionately affected, and called upon activists to combat this issue. He also noted the lack of digital literacy at the community level and suggested collaboration between minority rights organisations and digital literacy advocates.
The journalist further called on the state to take a more proactive role in countering hatred and promoting harmony, as it frequently falls short in protecting religious minorities.
The conference spotlighted the critical need for religious tolerance and addressed the escalating issue of hate speech in Pakistan. Speakers highlighted the pivotal role of education, the influence of social media, and government responsibilities in fostering a harmonious society,