“The government must take steps to promote social harmony and end sectarianism,” Association of Women for Awareness and Motivation (AWAM) Executive Director Nazia Sardar said on Wednesday.
She was speaking at a seminar titled Removing Discrimination and Barriers for the Respect of Human Rights organised by the AWAM to mark the International Human Rights Day.
Sardar said people needed to be more tolerant of other people’s ways. She said dialogue was an effective way to resolve conflicts within families and communities and at workplaces.
AWAM Programme Director Naseem Anthony said, “Human rights violations are occurring in many forms… respect for human rights is imperative for solidarity.”
He said a system of administration based on equality and justice should be developed.
Journalist Sajid Aleem said, “Media men are opinion-makers… they must contribute to bringing about positive changes in society by promoting respect for diversity and human rights.”
Awami Workers Party General Secretary Arif Ayaz said some religious leaders promoted hatred and intolerance on the basis of faith by delivering speeches and spreading reading material.
“A campaign is needed to remove discriminatory material and policies from the education system and curriculum… we must take a stand against elements promoting sectarianism and religious discrimination,” he added.
Social Harmony Awareness and Development of Women (SHADOW) director Anjum James said all religions promoted brotherhood and tolerance.
“People should treat their families and neighbors like they treat themselves,” he said.
Raja Shahbaz, a political activist, said a lack of tolerance and acceptance was the root cause of social violence in Pakistan. “People are being killed for having diverse viewpoints, ideologies… there is no respect for diversity and no space for difference of opinion in the country,” he said.
He said most people were reluctant to mix up with people from other faiths.
Journalist Iftikhar Ahmad said Pakistan was facing many problems including sectarianism, poverty, unemployment and lack of resources. “We need to hold government officials accountable and monitor their performance,” he said.
Published in The Express Tribune, December 12th, 2013.