An independent think-tank

Interfaith harmony requires healthy spaces for interacting with each other

21 April 2018

There is a need to create more and more spaces for dialogue and engagement among different segment of society. Besides physical interaction, discussion on virtual spaces like media can be productive too. Only with these collective actions can we overcome the tendency of doubting each other’s motives, paving way for interfaith harmony.

These thoughts came in the concluding sessions in a discussion-workshop with around 30 participants from Sindh and Balochistan, organized by Pak Institute for Peace Studies (PIPS), a think-tank. The deliberations were aimed at exploring how interfaith harmony and freedom of faith can be explored in Pakistan.

Senior journalist Sabookh Syed admitted that media often ignores broadcasting social issues – issues that are important to instill ownership among different citizens of the country. He explained this norm is largely due to economy of media, which, like any other business, plainly rely on what sells. Unfortunately, the debates on social issues is not given much consideration; hence less focus on them.

At the same time, those who thought of their professional duty to report on such issues lost their space out. In the good old days, he said, experienced journalists reviewed the content, but now, this space has been taken over.

For building a healthy society, he said, media should nurture spaces where social issues can be openly discussed. Its alternative is vacuum, which means no productivity at all.

Social activist Kobab Jehan seconded the point, calling for such spaces for youth in particular. Youth, after all, constitutes the majority of the country; and they are increasing having little physical engagement with people different than them. It was suggested that authorities should give central attention to youth.

She admitted that while youth policies have been announced by different provinces, the problem, she said, is implementation. This has result in further confusion about the youth.

Taking part in the discussion, Dr. Amir Taseen, ex-chairman of Madrassah Education Board, said interaction is even critical for students of different schools of thoughts. These ways, they will overcome their own biases.

Some participants lamented that the space for working on interfaith harmony has shrunk; authorities deem sensitization and advocacy activities as trivial. On the other hand, those working on these issues are stopped or mocked; on the other hand, nothing is being done by others except for finding faults. The result is less avenues for dialogues.