LONDON: Dozens of prominent Pakistani intellectuals, human rights and social media activists and public figures with progressive views have gathered in London for their second conference titled...
LONDON: Dozens of prominent Pakistani intellectuals, human rights and social media activists and public figures with progressive views have gathered in London for their second conference titled ‘Pakistan- the way forward’.
The conference, organised under the banner of South Asians Against Terrorism and for Human Rights (SAATH) is co-hosted by columnist Dr Mohammad Taqi and former Pakistan ambassador to the United States, Husain Haqqani.
Besides Haqqani and Taqi, prominent participants include Rashed Rehman, Abbas Nasir, Senator Latif Afridi, Arif Jamal, Marvi Sirmed, Beena Sarwar, Atif Touqeer, Ms Farhat Taj and several leading journalists.
Unlike last year, when the conference was marred by opinions of hard-line Sindhi and Baloch nationalists and MQM-Altaf supporters, this year the agenda and list of participants is more mainstream, organsiers have stated.
They further explained that year, the conference theme is to create a network of Pakistanis in the country and abroad “who reject the idea of permanent war with neighboring countries” and do not accept what liberal Pakistanis consider an extremist orientation.
“Liberal, progressive, nationalist and secular visions of Pakistan need to be reinstated in Pakistan's political arena if the country is to overcome its current local and internationalist threats,” Haqqani told this reporter.
“We must change the narrative that only religious extremists or intolerant bigots represent Pakistani patriotism. Pakistan belongs to various schools of thoughts, various ideologies and diverse opinions and that’s its real beauty."
He said that Pakistan faced serious challenges and needed 360 degree change in policies, not gimmicks, and a genuine progressive alternative suggesting the way forward.
Some experts have shared their opinion that the conference should also explore and highlight different issues of human rights and extremism in other parts of South Asia as the forum’s primary focus is the entire South Asian region.