Speakers suggest 'new social contract' to turn Pakistan into pluralistic society.
Islamabad -- A new social contract to people of Pakistan was need of hour to accommodate and preserve the interests and wellbeing of all the citizens irrespective of their caste, creed, religion or any other social, political and cultural identity. Pakistan was a country coherently diverse and blessed with multiple identities but unfortunately, we could not transform this positive aspect of our society into pluralism due to short sighted policies that were imposed over the years by different regimes.
The speakers said this at seminar titled 'Turning diversity into pluralism-challenges and way forward', held by Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI) here on Monday.
Ahmad Salim, renowned historian and scholar on the occasion opined that to create a truly pluralistic and inclusive society, the discriminations and biases against the religious minorities must be removed at every level including from the constitution of Pakistan. He said that the new social contract should be based on the concept of equal rights and equal citizenship for all Pakistanis.
Naeem Ahmad Mirza, Head of Aurat Foundation, identified a number of areas that negate the spirit of pluralism in Pakistan and suggested that the cultural, religious, societal and gender based gaps were the key issues to deny Pakistan and its people to get benefitted from pluralism. He said that Pakistani society was coherently pluralist but hate was injected by vested interests of few that wanted people to strengthen their illegitimate rule.
Romana Bashir, Executive Director Peace and Development Foundation (PDF), lamented that national population census was a huge opportunity to identify our strength as a diverse nation which was lost because of exclusionist mindset and approach that was in placed to conduct this important task. She said that a number of religious identities including Sikh and Bahi community were placed in the column as 'others' and thus excluded from the process of national social, economic and political development. She said that legal and constitutional discrimination and hate speeches against the religious minorities must be stopped to make Pakistan a pluralistic society.
Dr. Amineh A. Hoti, researcher and educationist, highlighted the importance of education to inculcate the ideals of co-existence and acceptance of all through education. She said that we have models of education based on inclusive ideas and teachings and a highly talented young generation but unfortunately, we have not been able to mainstream the ideals of modern and progressive education. She said that the teachers training around the modern notions of education would also play a key role in turning Pakistan a pluralistic society.
Shafqat Aziz of SDPI, earlier, presented an outlook of challenges that existed in Pakistani society for turning diversity into pluralism and said that a national level debate on these crucial issues was need of hour.