Despite having a plurality of views and diversity of identities, the country has been unable to harness its potential, opting for short-sighted policies which divides more than it unites people.
There was thus a need to devise a new social contract for the people to accommodate and preserve the interests and wellbeing of all citizens irrespective of their caste, creed, religion or any other social, political and cultural identity.
This was demanded by speakers at a seminar on ‘Turning Diversity into Pluralism-Challenges and Way forward’, organised by the Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI) on Monday. Ahmad Salim, a historian and scholar, was of the view that to create a pluralistic and inclusive society, discriminations and biases against religious minorities must be removed at every level, including from the Constitution.
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 which in fact negate the spirit of pluralism in the country. In this regards he suggested that the cultural, religious, societal and gender-based gaps were the key issues denying Pakistan and its people to the benefits of this pluralism.
‘Coalition for Inclusive Pakistan’ launched
He reminded that Pakistani society was natively pluralist, but hate was injected by some with vested interests who wanted to strengthen their own illegitimate rule.
Peace and Development Foundation (PDF) Executive Director Romana Bashir lamented that the national population census had turned into a massive ‘lost opportunity’ to identify the country’s strength as a diverse nation owing to an exclusionist mindset.
She said that a number of religious minorities, such as the Sikhs and the Bahais had been placed in a monolithic column called the ‘others’ and thus excluded from the process of national social, economic and political development.
Bashir demanded that the legal and constitutional discrimination and hate speeches against the religious minorities must stop to make Pakistan a pluralistic society.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 2nd, 2018.
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