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Dialogue is the only way to resolve conflicts within society: experts

Islamabad— Experts at a workshop said that dialogue was the only way to resolve different ethnic, religious, and linguistic conflicts within the society, and to bring peace and harmony in the country.

They also said that the youth should come out of their different biases that were prevalent in them since childhood and promote logical and evidence-based discussions to make the society diverse and inclusive.

The speakers expressed these views at a two-day workshop – Youth for Change – organized by Islamabad-based Pak Institute for Peace Studies (PIPS) for its youth observers on interfaith harmony and peace. The purpose of the training was to sensitize the observers, who are part of the country-wide youth observatory network made by the institute, how to report incidents of hate speech, faith-based violence and freedom of faith violations from their respective areas at relevant platforms and what is the significance of their work?

The event was part of a PIPS project on the engagement of youth to persuade them to play their role as “agents of change” to bring interfaith harmony and sustainable peace in the society.

“We are victims of biases since our childhood and youth should come out of these prejudices including linguistic, ethnic, and religious besides others,” said Harris Khalique, Secretary-general Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP), while addressing one of the sessions. He advised the observers that they should promote logical and evidence-based discussions on different issues by avoiding to attack anyone personally. “Always investigate facts before giving your viewpoint on any incident,” he said. He added that fact-checking has become indispensable in the present times when abundant unverified information flows through social media. He urged the need to hold inter-people dialogue.

Chairman Council of Islamic Ideology (CII) Dr Qibla Ayaz talking to participants said that focus had always remained to make the Pakistani society “ritualistic” but the factor of behavioural change always has been missing in it, which is the primary part of such a society. He explained that behaviours like speaking the truth, and ensuring tolerance were missing in the society. “The face of the society is religious but its behaviours are non-religious.”

Development specialist and trainer Ms Romana Bashir speaking in a session underlined the need to resolve conflicts within the society through dialogue. She added that hate speech could be stopped by logically arguing with the “violator.” She called for engaging those who are “hardliners in their thoughts and difficult elements” of the society. “Hardliners become change makers if they are properly engaged,” she said.

Scholar and writer Khursheed Nadeem argued that two factors were important for a peaceful society. “It should be democratic and its laws should reflect those values of the society, which are in harmony with human nature.” He also underscored that dialogue could resolve conflicts in the society. He said that societies used to evolve but they should have some mechanisms to absorb conflicts. “Dialogue is the only way to absorb conflicts.”

Dr A. H. Nayyar, an author and academician, remarked that the Constitution provided a fundamental right to everyone to study religion of his/her own choice but minorities in Pakistan had been deprived of this right. He deplored that the children of non-Muslims were compelled to study Islamic material that has been included in the compulsory subjects of curriculum.

Earlier, Director PIPS Muhammad Amir Rana while moderating a session stressed the observers not be judgmental towards other one’s faith and always be clear about their domain.  He further said that there was no need to be judgmental when there was no interference of any faith or religion in anyone’s life.