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Over 700 university students engaged in discussions on interfaith harmony in Pakistan

The nationwide drive for interfaith harmony concludes in Faisalabad

Faisalabad – PR: The series of countrywide workshops on interfaith harmony in Pakistan concluded Tuesday in Faisalabad. An initiative of the Pak Institute for Peace Studies, the program engaged the youth in discussions on some of the most critical questions that often remain unexplored but affect thinking patterns and behaviors among the Pakistani youth. Over 700 university students from Swat to Karachi and from Quetta to Faisalabad were given platforms to interact with leading scholars, senior journalists, educationists, and political leaders etc. and express their views on diverse issues affecting interfaith relations in Pakistan.

The workshops aimed at sensitizing university students about the social, political, and legal factors that cause social discord and polarize people on the basis of religious or sectarian beliefs. During workshops, the challenges faced by religious minorities were explored and analyzed by various scholars, writers, and journalists. Scholars said that religious communities like the Hindus, Christians, etc. face persecution which cast deep impacts on the society at multiple levels, and harm Pakistan’s national interests including the economy.

Speaking at the concluding workshop in Faisalabad, security analyst and founder of Pak Institute for Peace Studies Amir Rana said the purpose of the initiative was not to teach any set idea to the youth, but to stir the young minds to start thinking about issues critically and rationally, and understand that on any given issue alternative perspectives always exist. According to Amir Rana, the education system fails to develop basic thinking and reasoning skills in the students, and as a result many graduates lack the ability to rationally process moderate to complex ideas. And minds devoid of critical thinking are susceptible to exploitation and breeding ground for extremism.

Likewise, veteran journalist Wusatullah Khan said the Pakistani youth are growing up in a highly regulated environment where they are subjected to pre-set ideas and expected to behave in particular ways. Creative self-expression and questioning are discouraged on grounds of morality or social values, and conformity with societal norms is rewarded, Khan added. He said the intellectual abilities of students are reflected in the quality of questions they ask, but raising questions is frowned upon.

Similarly, Principal Jamia Islamia Imdadia (Faisalabad) Mufti Muhammad Zahid said human societies are diverse where people profess different faiths. Therefore, for social peace and stability it is crucial for all religions to coexist peacefully, he said. The workshop explored the causes of interfaith issues and their impact on the society, and underlined the role of youth in tackling these issues and building peace in the country. Sabookh Syed, senior journalist and director IBC news, explained how the problem of extremism is damaging the country and affecting the common man’s life.

The series of interfaith harmony workshops engaged students from dozens of universities from across the country, and lasted for over six months from January to July this year.







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