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Structural reforms can help curb identity-based profiling

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PR/Islamabad/17 April 2019

Participants at a day long discussion opined that religious, sectarian, and ethnic profiling played a critical role in creating an identity crisis in Pakistan and urged the state to bring structural reforms to address this issue.

The dialogue was  on “Coexistence with Multiple Identities”, organized by Pak Institute for Peace Studies (PIPS), with a select group of experts, academics, lawyers, and social scientists from Gilgit Baltistan, Azad Jammu and Kashmir, and Islamabad. PIPS Director Muhammad Amir Rana moderated the session.

While expressing views on definition of identity, participants argued that identity is variable. It changes with time and situation. They opined that an identity can be national or religious or both at the same time, among others. They also discussed the two forms of identity, one that is by choice and the other that is imposed upon by force.

Muhammad Amir Rana said there are many stimuli of identity crisis. Three contemporary movements in Pakistan are linked to identity crisis. Religious movement has been striving to impose a religious identity. Ethnic movements in different parts of the country have surfaced due to what they saw were discriminatory behaviours. He hinted that if the identity crisis dominated, prominent movements in Pakistan could have unpredictable repercussions. Stereotyping has influenced our decision making and this may cause conflict, he added.

Meanwhile Khurshid Nadeem said it is important to understand the concept of chauvinism. One’s identity should not be at the cost of the other’s identity.

There are many angles to identity crisis, and financial insecurity is one of them. Participants, mainly from GB and AJK highlighted lack of domestic leadership crisis and expressed their strong desire to have national identity like other provinces of Pakistan.

On the role of Constitution in safeguarding identities, some participants lamented that the constitution does not provide security to multiple identities and doesn’t ensure protection of minority rights. However, some participants opined that the constitution ensures security of multiple identities but implementation of legislation is the actual problem.

It is the state’s responsibility to be neutral and fight against persecution, columnist Khurshid Nadeem concluded. It should celebrate, appreciate and facilitate diversity to avoid conflict in the society.

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