Domestic extremism damaging Pakistan globally
PR – Sargodha: A two-day educational and training workshop on interfaith harmony in Pakistan was held at the University of Sargodha on March 2nd and 3rd. Eminent scholars, writers, and journalists including Dr. Qibla Ayaz, chairperson Council of Islamic Ideology, Muhammad Amir Rana, security analyst and author, Dr. Ishtiaq Ahmed, VC University of Sargodha, Sabookh Syed, journalist, Aslam Awan, columnist, Ahmed Ali, Saima Mobashira, Anum Fatima, and others expressed their views about the state of interfaith relations in Pakistan. Speakers agreed that lack of harmony among followers of different faiths was a continuing issue in the country. They said that with a majority youth population Pakistan is one of the youngest nations on the planet, and the youth have a significant role in shaping up the society. Speaking on the occasion, Dr. Qibla Ayaz said faith and culture are closely linked and both influence each other. He said Pakistan is a land of diverse cultures and faiths, and the young generation needed to be sensitized to appreciate the immense diversities in the country. Dr. Qibla maintained that faith-based discrimination in Pakistan is primarily driven by social factors of class and economic status rather than religion.
Similarly, Dr. Ishtiaq Ahmed said that the class structure is deeply entrenched and it reinforces discriminations towards the poor and the underprivileged. He also shed light on cultural variations within the Muslim world and how they influenced people’s outlook about faith and religion. Likewise, senior journalist, Sabookh Syed, also engaged the university students in discussions about relations between Muslim and non-Muslim communities in Pakistan. He also showed a documentary about the torching of a Hindu shrine in Karak district in recent past. Filmed by Sabookh in the immediate aftermath of the incident, the documentary presented eyewitness accounts of what truly triggered the tragedy. According to Syed, the Karak incident was a classic case of religion being misused for personal gains. He said that incidents like Karak do not go unnoticed. Indeed, they return to haunt us in various shapes and forms, he said, adding that Pakistan is continually lingering on the threshold of FATF sanctions primarily due to terrorism and extremism. Whatever acts of extremism occur domestically reverberates globally, and casts repercussions for the country and the ordinary citizens, he said.
The workshop participants were also sensitized about the concept of citizenship by Muhammad Amir Rana. He shared with students documents like the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Paigham-e-Pakistan, etc. and urged the latter to read and internalize the principals enriched in these documents. According to Amir Rana, the world paid enormous price in the form of world wars before realizing that protecting the basic human rights was crucial for global peace. Similarly, senior columnist for daily Dunya Aslam Awan and educationist Saima Mobashira also addressed the workshop participants, and discussed the cultural diversities in the provinces and regions of Pakistan. According to Awan, acceptance and appreciation of diversity are key to national growth. He said that it was unfortunate that diversity was often frowned upon as a roadblock to nation building. No nation can progress unless it embraces its diverse cultures, faiths, languages, and ethnicities. Likewise, Saima Mobashira said that faith and culture cross path, and are often confused with one another by people. She urged the youth to open up their minds and break free from social customs that discriminate against people on basis of faith.
The students were also taught about the importance of courage in life and career by researcher, Anum Fatima. She explained why youth needed to develop courage to take stand on issues and pursue their dreams. She particularly encouraged female students to overcome social barriers and take charge of their lives because women’s contribution to public life continues to remain minimal despite the fact that they constitute over half of the 200 million population. In the end, a session was also dedicated to emotional intelligence. Former civil servant and researcher, Ahmed Ali, explained why IQ alone was not enough for youth to achieve their goals and succeed in life and career. He discussed how an individual could build emotional intelligence and become more stable and successful in life. The workshop was part of the series of nationwide workshops jointly organized by the Islamabad-based think tank, Pak Institute for Peace Studies (PIPS) and the University of Sargodha. The workshop aimed at engaging university students on themes around interfaith harmony and diversity in Pakistan.
Pak Institute for Peace Studies (PIPS)
Mr. Sabookh Syed
Cell: 0300- 584 2249