Members of civil society, including the literati, writers, lawyers, seasoned politicians and social activists, announced they will establish a platform where secular thoughts would be encouraged and be allowed to flourish.
The office bearers and supporters of the ‘The Forum for Secular Pakistan’ read a declaration at the Karachi Press Club on Sunday and announced that the platform would soon have its presence in every nook and corner of the country.
“It is the need of the hour to flourish secular thoughts in the country. The bloodshed in the country is outcome of their absence,” said Mir Hasil Bizenjo, the senior vice president of the forum while sharing concern over extremism and intolerance in the country. “In our society, the word is synonymous with ‘kufr’ but we need to realise that religious extremism and sectarianism can only be overcome through secularism.”
Renowned human rights activist, lawyer, and president of the forum, Iqbal Haider, asked people to take note of extremism in society. “The conscientious citizens of Pakistan, living in the country or abroad, should be concerned about the manner in which the country is fast degenerating, and to falling prey to forces of obscurantism,” Haider read from the declaration.
The declaration further stated that Pakistan started its journey with wrong priorities, the ultimate objective of which was to make Pakistan a national security state, almost completely ignoring the importance of social development and public welfare.
While reading the declaration, Haider said that Quaid-e-Azam’s pronouncement, unfortunately, was very easily ignored by his successors who instead moved towards the opposite direction making Pakistan an obscurantist, clergy driven and non-democratic state. “The successive governments pampered those orthodox, obscurantist and politico-religious forces which had found it most difficult to accept the demand for Pakistan. Secularism stands for acceptance of all religions and equal treatment to their adherents,” he read.
“Pakistan can also ensure religious harmony only through ensuring religious space without involving the state into it,” the declaration suggested.
Condemning the killings in Hazara, Gilgit and migration of Hindus from different parts of Sindh, chief guest Sardar Sher Baz Mazari expressed his grief over the prevailing Balochistan situation. “I believe in secularism and can’t tolerate the present condition in Balochistan,” he said.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 19th, 2012.
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