Speakers at a seminar on Thursday said the discrimination-free vision of Pakistan’s founder must be fulfilled.
They said there must be no discrimination on the basis of religion, race, caste or sexual orientation.
The workshop “Vision for a Democratic and Peaceful Pakistan” was organised by Peace and Human Development (PHD) Foundation in collaboration with the CARE Foundation.
Speaking on the occasion, MPA Rana Afzal Khan said religious minorities face a number of challenges despite having contributed to the creation and development of Pakistan.
“The relationships between various communities are improving with time and we must not lose heart. We should contribute to changing people’s approach towards building a society that upholds the principles of equality, justice and tolerance,” he said.
PHD Foundation director Suneel Malik said Pakistan has not followed the vision of its founder, Mohammad Ali Jinnah, who outlined a modern and tolerant state in his historic address to the first constituent assembly on August 11, 1947.
She said Jinnah’s legacy must be incorporated in the constitution as a guiding principle to make Pakistan a democratic and peaceful society.
AWAM coordinator Shazia George expressed concern over the increasing number of reports of forced conversions and hate crimes against marginalised communities.
“The government must work to eliminate the class structure and ensure the well being of all Pakistan’s people,” she said.
Father James Bahadur said all religions promote peace and reject hatred. “All Pakistan’s citizens must make sincere efforts to eliminate rifts and bridge the gaps between different religions and sects,” he said
AWAM director Nazia Sardar said we must celebrate the cultures and contributions of diverse communities. “We must understand, respect and tolerate the diversity in our own communities to ensure peaceful coexistence,” she said.
CARE Foundation president Yousaf Adnan said the government must initiate a dialogue to promote ethno-religious harmony.
Saleem Aftab, a social activist, said minority community leaders had played a significant role in the creation of Pakistan. He said it was a pity that their contribution was omitted from official history.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 16th, 2012.