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January 26, 2020

PIPS offers forum for talks on state, society, relgion


January 26, 2020

Islamabad:Pakistan Institute for Peace Studies, PIPS, organised a one-day event titled ‘Dialogue Pakistan 2020’ here on Saturday, Wherein issues like, and related to, state, society, religion, rights, and student unions were discussed. Dignitaries and scholars from all over Pakistan were invited to deliver their talks.

In the inaugural session titled The Need for Dialogue in Today’s Pakistan, I. A. Rehman, former chairman Human Rights Association (HRCP), said that in order to relinquish the clouds of despair that have blanketed the country, it is inevitable that dialogue is promoted in an environment that is open and not subject to any curbs.

Dr Khaled Ahmed, senior journalist and columnist, said that democracy, in other words, advocates for the prevalence of free speech, and that the latter needs to be made possible both at the national and international levels.

During the first dialogue of the day titled Dialogue About the Future of Parliament, Constitution and Democracy, Barrister Mirza Shahzad Akbar, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Accountability and Interior Ministry and Chief of the Assets Recovery Unit (ARU), lamented how certain institutions and classes are targeted for the chaos prevalent in the country, for it is something that the entire society and all institutions are responsible. Shazia Marri, MNA PPP, said that diversity needs to be acknowledged and dialogue made an unavoidable prerequisite. She also said that the role of parliament is equal to none, which, seriatim, begs supremacy and accountability. Dr Abdul Malik Baloch, former CM Baluchistan, and Afrasiab Khattak, former senator ANP, said that a country where lawlessness prevails, it is necessary that we try our best to shift from being a security state to a welfare state for which brave and robust steps needs to be taken.

In the second session titled State, Society and Religion, Dr Qibla Ayaz, Dr Khalid Masud, Dr Dietrich Reetz and Dr Ammar Khan Nasir stressed that because when religious leaders are stripped of power they take to streets, it is significant that they be given the space that they as part of the country and representatives of Islam deserve.

In the third session titled Have We Won the War Against Terrorism?, speakers accentuated that the prevailing extremist ideology in the country need to be confronted not through the use of force but by engaging all elements of the society in a dialogue and by taking into consideration in earnest their concerns.

In the fourth session titled Is Our Environment Conducive for Creative Expression?, Iftikhar Arif said that problems pertaining to creative expression in Pakistan are on the rise for which the prevalence of dialogue is an utterly important prerequisite. Literature and art, the panelists vehemently argued, can help promote peace and tolerance.

In the 5th session titled Economic Stability and Governance: Is 2020 the Year of Hope?, discussing the future of economic trends in Pakistan, Zia Uddin, former editor, said that if Pakistan doesn’t take prompt actions, its economic conditions will only worsen. It was also said that we need to own our problems and work towards finding their solutions. Dr Qaiser Bangali and Afshan Subohi said that our elites don’t feel that they belong to the country and that they lack a feasible vision for the country. Rafiullah Kakar said that one of the main problems we are faced with in this regard is that we are politically disorganized which is a plight responsible for most of the chaos prevalent in the country.

In a session titled Youth, Student Unions and Emerging Political Trends, it was argued that before student unions, whose importance cannot be brushed under the rug, are revived, it is necessary that students are taught as to how do they ought to put forth their concerns in a manner that is not only respectful, but also worth taking into consideration.

In the next session titled Political and Strategic Landscape of South Asia: Is the Region in a Parliament State of Change?, Aziz Ahmad Khan, former ambassador, stressed that Pakistan needs to improve its relation with India, and that although talks with the Taliban are not unproblematic, we need to engage them in healthy discussions and bring them on one table. Amir Rana, Director PIPS, argued that the Indo-Pak conflict has consequences for, and bears upon, the whole of South Asia. He further said that the meeting of the leaders of India and Pakistan during the upcoming SAARC summit will prove extremely inevitable for the pervasiveness of smooth and sound relations between the two countries.

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