No nation should be defined on the basis of what impression a bunch of extremists create for it anywhere in the world, said President of Pakistan Dr Arif Alvi.
He was addressing the opening ceremony of a series of webinars entitled, “Nurturing Peaceful, Respectful and Inclusive Societies in Pakistan: Seerat counters hate speech through decisive action”, being jointly organised by the United Nations Office on Genocide Prevention and the Responsibility to Protect (OSAPG) and the Higher Education Commission (HEC), Pakistan, the other day.
The webinar series, which will end on Saturday (today), aimed at encouraging peaceful, inclusive, and empathetic communities in Pakistan through tools like active and continuous intersectional participation, dialogue, and collaboration.
Speaking on the occasion, Dr. Alvi said it is incumbent on all of us to present the true principles of Islam that counter all kinds of religious, ethnic, and gender hatred, marginalisation, discrimination, and inequality.
He underlined that Islam establishes the fact that all human beings are equal, and there is no point of discrimination among them except piety.
He maintained that Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) taught and emphasised on forgiveness, putting compensation a secondary and vengeance as a last resort in case of any confrontation.
He said the Last Prophet (PBUH) laid emphasis on adopting a just approach in financial affairs to set up an economically just society.
The president mentioned that the father of the Pakistani nation, Muhammad Ali Jinnah, was also a staunch advocate of unity and peaceful coexistence. He said that making Pakistan a model of the State of Madinah is the final goal, as envisioned by Prime Minister Imran Khan.
Dr. Alvi underlined that a lack of communication generates phobias among individuals, states, and nations, yet cooperative and peaceful discussions, as enshrined in the UN Charter, are the key to address these phobias.
He stated that hate speech should have no standing in Pakistan. “We need to make sure that the laws isolating communities are condemned.”
Highlighting the role of media, he stressed the need for judiciously handling the ‘weapons of misinformation’ and communicating to the world that Pakistan is a peaceful country, and the Muslims around the world are peaceful.
In his remarks, HEC Chairman Tariq Banuri stressed the need for promoting education to end hate speech, intolerance, and bigotry rising around the world.
He said that the waves of extremism can be addressed by adopting the true teachings of the Holy Prophet.
The chairman underlined that the teachings of the Holy Prophet brought about a massive transformation in society that led to subsequent measures like the establishment of Baitul Hikmah, also known as the Grand Library of Baghdad.
He shared with the participants that the HEC had introduced new programmes in the undergraduate education policy to bring together the true history and civilization of the Islamic society.
“The new policy is inclined towards promoting greater interaction and engagement between a teacher and a student on the pattern of Sufi episteme.”
He explained that this concept was based on the practice of the past, when students from all over the world would flock to the learned people, like Sufis.
HEC Executive Director Dr. Shaista Sohail said Islam gives utmost respect to the life and property of every human being, men and women alike, and it preaches that the conflicts can be addressed by forging forgiveness and forbearance.
“The Victory of Makkah is a perfect precedent of forgiveness and tolerance,” she affirmed. Dr. Sohail said that Islam disapproved of the behaviors inciting people to hatred for others.
“There is a strong need for adopting the manners and etiquettes, taught by the Last Prophet (PBUH), nationally and globally to ensure peace and interfaith harmony.”
Alice Wairimu Nderitu, UN Special Adviser, emphasised that the United Nations is committed to using education as a tool to counter hate speech. “Education highlights the difference between good and bad, right and wrong, and true and false.”
She said the promotion of quality education and the establishment of peace, justice, and strong institutions were among the UNDP’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). “None of the SDGs to establish inclusive and resilient societies by 2030 can be achieved without promotion of education,” she affirmed.
She said the past decade had witnessed an increase in access to education, however, there was still a lot to be done in this direction.
She appreciated the Government of Pakistan for its commitment to achieving the goal of ensuring free and compulsory education for all, as per the Constitution of Pakistan.
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