Speakers suggest promotion of open dialogue

August 25, 2019

LAHORE : Punjab Minister for Livestock Hasnain Bahadur Dreshak hoped that hate would end soon in Pakistani society and education, awareness and enlightenment would prevail.Addressing a seminar on...

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LAHORE : Punjab Minister for Livestock Hasnain Bahadur Dreshak hoped that hate would end soon in Pakistani society and education, awareness and enlightenment would prevail.

Addressing a seminar on religious harmony and role of civil society at the Punjabi Complex on Saturday, he appreciated the religious leaders for supporting peace initiatives, religious and social harmony. “We should share love and give respect to everyone,” he said.

The event was arranged by the Centre for Peace and Secular Studies (CPSS). Earlier, distinguished panelists suggested promotion of open dialogue, respect and acceptance in society through implementation of laws like the National Action Plan.

Council of Islamic Ideology (CII) member Mufti Raghib Hussain Naeemi told the audience that the constitutional definition of a Muslim would have to be promoted if “we want to promote religions harmony,” as a 10-member team of Islamic scholars was part of a committee that prepared the national constitution.

“We must make a similar resolution like the historic Meesaq-e-Madina to promote religious harmony,” he said. “We need to remember that some manipulators tried to misuse our religion in the past and spread hatred against each others,” he pointed out.

To a question, Mufti Naeemi said that no Muslim could be disrespectful to people from other religions and faiths. “We have to admit that some clerics are responsible for some unwanted incidents,” he said, and suggested that all religious schools must arrange educated clerics to avoid unnecessary occurrences.

Human Rights Watch (HRW) Country Director Saroop Ijaz said that there was a need to implement the laws. “We all know that we have laws to ensure protection of all religions and faiths. It is important to implement them.” He said the impact that the curriculum and other intolerant and extremist mindsets had done still needs to be looked into.

Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) Chairperson Dr Mehdi Hassan called religion a very personal matter for every person and said he was not against those who did politics in the name of religion as democracy gave them right to do anything they wanted. But the decision should stay with the people, he said.

“If you see the history, whenever religion was used for political reasons, it resulted in violence and bloodshed,” he said. At least one million people died in religious violence after the independence in 1947, he said. “Let religion be a personal matter. No one has right to intervene in anyone’s personal matter,” he said.

Columnist and journalist Mujeeb-ur-Rehman Shami said that Pakistan had been created as a Muslim majority state. “So you cannot close your eyes to this fact. Yes, we can give care to minorities who live in Pakistan,” he said. “We need to have a new charter that there should be no compromise on the respect of any religion and faith.” He suggested sizeable representation of minorities in all departments and institutions.

Suggesting freedom of expression, Pak Institute of Peace Studies (PIPS) Director Amir Rana said that counter-extremism operations need to be a-political. Human Rights and Minority Affairs Secretary Tariq Mahmood said being pillars of the state, civil servants could have been the reason for a better society. “We need to take ownership of our role and responsibility at the institutional level,” he said.

“I believe if shrines will lead our civil society, there will be tolerance and peace in our society,” said Tahir Raza Bukhari, director general of the Religious Affairs and Auqaf Department.

The event was attended by a large number of people, including students from different universities and seminaries besides civil society members.

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