LAHORE:The draft of the first ‘Interfaith Harmony Policy’ of the country was launched on Wednesday here from the platform of Youth Development Foundation (YDF).
The ‘Punjab Interfaith Harmony Policy’ for harmonious, tolerant and safe Punjab for everyone is the first such policy since Pakistan gained independence and has been presented close to The World Interfaith Harmony Week, an annual event observed during the first week of February.
The policy has been formulated after more than 20 consultations with people from all walks of life. They were religious scholars, legislators, lawyers, journalists, business community representatives, departments attached with Home Department, literati, public servants and bureaucrats, women and youth from diverse religions and students of religious seminaries.
The draft reads, “Harmony is all about co-existence, based on the principle of live and let live, together in a peaceful atmosphere without any conflict. It strengthens a state and its society and leads to development and prosperity.”
To check hate speech, the new policy proposes implementation of Loudspeaker Act, sensitisation of Khateebs about hate speech and law and issue them certificates without which they should be barred from oratory. Above all the policy has proposed that every speech shall carry the message of peace, tolerance, harmony and acceptance in the light of religious teachings. The policy demanded the government officially promote the slogan "This soil belongs to all of its inhabitants”.
The policy demanded the government hold cultural festivals like Besakhi, Lohri, Basant (without kites), etc. because they are not linked to any religion. Other suggestions are to reward orators, clerics and religious leaders who spread the message of peace, harmony and tolerance, and highlight contributions of citizens from religious minorities. Curriculum, a much talked about tool to change the mindset, has also been taken up with the suggestion to include “A chapter on interfaith and social harmony in the light of the teachings of various religions.”
Minister for Human Rights and Minority Affairs Ijaz Alam Augustine, speaking on the occasion, welcomed the draft of Interfaith Harmony Policy and said Meesaq-e-Madina is the best portion of interfaith harmony in which non-Muslims were given shelter in a mosque. The draft of the policy will be tabled in the assembly soon, he said.
A common message highlighted by all the speakers was ‘all must love the human form’. Malik Wasif, MPA, said a single national curriculum will be implemented in primary schools in 2021 which he hoped will help increase tolerance level of masses. Analyst Mubasher Bokhari, who is also the person to draft the policy underlined the importance of government’s intervention and taking ownership of the intervention.