‘Minorities have equal stake in Pakistan’

Speakers belonging to different faiths address webinars on ‘Nurturing Inclusive Societies’


Our Correspondent March 20, 2021

ISLAMABAD:

The non-Muslim population love Pakistan as much as their Muslim counterparts and have an equal stake in its vision, commented speakers during the second day of a series of webinars entitled ‘Nurturing Peaceful, Respectful and Inclusive Societies in Pakistan: Seerat Counters Hate Speech through Decisive Action’ here on Friday.

Representatives from different faiths addressed the webinars jointly organised by the Higher Education Commission and the United Nations Office on Genocide Prevention and the Responsibility to Protect.

The webinars aimed at encouraging peaceful, inclusive, and empathetic communities in Pakistan through tools like active and continuous intersectional participation, dialogue, and collaboration.

Poet, author, research scholar and linguist, Dr Safdar Ali Shah said that Pakistan is a land of diversity as its people accepted, respected, and embraced the existence of diverse religious and ethnic communities.

He shed light on the ancient civilizations homed by the land such as Mehrgarh, Indus Valley and Gandhara Civilisations. He said that Sikhism flourished in the presence of Islam and Hinduism in the Subcontinent while four relics of Buddha were found in Pakistan.

Regarding Taxila, a significant archaeological city in Punjab, he said that the city witnessed many cultures prospering and expanding, adding that Sufi saints also promoted the philosophy of humanism in the region.

A former member of parliament Isphanyar Bhandara, representing the Parsi community, said that the minority groups in the country decided at the time of independence in 1947 to become Pakistanis by choice.

He proposed to increase the job quota in addition to increasing seats in the legislative body for minorities.

Representing the Christian community, former Dean at Peshawar University Dr Sara Safdar highlighted the role of Christians in the development of Pakistan, the rights of minorities, and the challenges being faced by the minorities.

Major Harchan Singh from the Sikh community shared a presentation on the philosophy of Guru Nanak Dev Ji, the fostering of Sikhism in Pakistan, and the Kartarpur Corridor as a bridge of peace. He said that the Guru was strongly against all artificially created divisions and discrimination.

He quoted the Guru as saying: “The caste of a person is based on what he does.”

He further mentioned that a significant part of the Sikh history was linked to places located in Pakistan, including historical Gurdwaras associated with different events of Guru Nanak’s life, adding that there were around 20,000 Sikhs scattered across Pakistan.

Dr. Seema Nake, a representative of the Baha’i community, hoped that the discussions in the webinars would find expression in action. She also presented a few recommendations to make the HEC-UN efforts more productive like steps to engage all the concerned, including youth, in a dialogue process for the cause.

Syeda Gul Kalasha, a representative of the Kalasha community, talked about the history of Kalash, saying that the community had been living in Chitral for the past 3000 years.

She said that the majority of Muslims living over there loved and respected them. “We can perform our rituals and follow our customs and traditions in peace,” she added.

Pushpa Kumari, a representative of the Hindu community, said that the white colour in the Pakistani flag depicts the diversity and the rights of minorities. She mentioned that the Hindus celebrate Holi, Diwali, and Eid together with their countrymen without any hurdles.

A Buddhist, Rajkumari Troya Roy Khisa, highlighted salient aspects of Buddhism, saying that non-violence was the highest moral virtue.

She said that the government was always supportive of Buddhist tourism, adding that the Buddhist sites reflected the rich cultural heritage of Pakistan.

“Let’s try to live in harmony and help humanity to live together,” she added.

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