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December 7, 2018

Call for inclusion of peace studies in all higher education institutes

Karachi

December 7, 2018

Scholars at the concluding session of an international conference on social sciences at the University of Karachi demanded the induction of peace studies in all higher education institutions of the country.

Teachers can promote peace and defeat terrorism and extremism through education, therefore, the government should take them on board when preparing policies, they said. The two-day conference organised by the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences titled “New Trends in Social Sciences and Humanities in the Contemporary World: With Reference to World Peace Order” concluded on Thursday.

Speaking on the occasion, Honorary Consul General Philippines Dr Imran Yousuf Muhammad informed the audience that Pakistan’s growth and progress depends on peace within the country and the armed forces have done an extraordinary job in bringing back and maintaining peace.

Dr Masooma Hassan, chairperson of the Pakistan Institute of International Affairs, said it was easy to raise voices for women’s rights but difficult to follow them in letter and spirit. She said most women are not even aware of the fact that the government has passed a number of laws regarding their rights. Hassan further said that the past and present Indian governments have maltreated Kashmiri people but despite that, dialogue should not discontinue as it is the only solution of the Kashmir issue.

Women’s rights

Domestic violence survivors face ongoing and challenging effects after enduring physical, mental and emotional abuse. It takes time for them to adjust to living in a safe environment, especially if the perpetrator was severely violent and/or committed the actions over an extended period, said Dr Summer Sultana, Chairperson of KU’s Department of Political Science.

According to Dr Sultana, levels of overall reported psychological violence are higher than those of physical violence. “Of the diverse types of psychological violence, bullying or general harassment is more prevalent than sexual harassment.”

She said that detailed research was carried out to evaluate the physical and psychological effects on women’s life after being subjected to harassment either by her family, colleagues or even at public places such as streets.

She emphasised the need to increase awareness about the physical and mental health of harassed victims and to promote the implementation of laws against this brutality such as the 2010 law against of harassment of women at the workplace.

Dr Sultana said discriminatory practices are being preached in different aspects of women’s life which should come to an end. “Despite the fact that regulations and laws are formulated and present, they are not being implemented. We need a systematic strategy to overcome it. The violence comes in many forms but all of them have negative effects. They socially disturb women and cause mental stress which leads to various mental illnesses.”

Kashmir dispute

Presenting his paper on European Union’s policy towards the Kashmir issue, KU’s Dr Muhammad Ali shared historical background of the Kashmir issue and a look at the EU’s failure in resolving this dilemma.

“Pakistan has always upheld the UN resolutions on Kashmir which had called for a fair plebiscite on the issue,” he said. “Islamabad perceives it as its moral responsibility to provide political and diplomatic support to the people of Jammu and Kashmir on their right of self-determination. Pakistan has emphasised in the international forum that it wants a peaceful settlement of the dispute.”

He informed the audience that the Indian policy towards the resolution of the Kashmir issue is multifaceted. It can be collected at three levels – local, bilateral and international. At the local level, India has been trying hard to crush the Kashmiri resistance through a massive machinery of repression, including the stationing of around 700,000 troops and other security personnel in the occupied territory and the adroit manipulation of differences among the Kashmiri political and resistance groups, he said.

“At the bilateral Indo-Pakistan level, India has adopted the policy of avoiding any meaningful discussion with Pakistan on the Kashmir issue to buy more time to crush the resistance,” he said. “New Delhi has never been very sincere about settling the conflict. At the international level, the main aim of Indian policy on Kashmir is to deflect Pakistan’s campaign against human rights violations in the occupied territory.”

Dr Ali said that unfortunately EU treats India differently in spite of the basic rights’ violations made in Kashmir. Pointing out reasons for EU’s inability to take the issue serious, he said the EU cannot afford India’s anger because of her status as an emerging market. The EU is only economically and commercially interested in South Asia, he said.

Significance of research

While delivering the keynote address on the first day of the conference on Wednesday, former interim chief minister of Punjab Hasan Askari Rizvi said that research in the social sciences must be goal-oriented and aimed at serving humanity by suggesting ways to address social problems.

Rizvi informed the audience that social sciences could evolve mechanisms which would be helpful in coping with the intolerance from society which is one of the major reasons of extremism and terrorism.

“Universities are the engine of change and societies can be transformed if varsities played their due role,” he said. “If governments spend on the betterment of the education system, it is an investment of a nation in the future.”

In his address, KU Vice Chancellor Professor Dr Muhammad Ajmal Khan advised the students to talk to scholars present in the conference and others whenever possible as these little discussions would give them new and innovative ideas and approaches.

Declaring the current age the age of social sciences, the VC said the role of social scientists is pivotal for national growth, and that the social sciences play an important role in identifying societal issues and proposing their solutions.

Presenting his research paper on understanding the need for identity in conflict and peace, Daniel Olson from Briercrest College, Canada, said that despite the best attempts of researchers and policymakers around the globe, world peace continues to be hard to achieve. “With more conflict-displaced refugees in the world than ever before, it seems as though world peace may be a more distant dream than ever before.”

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