ISLAMABAD: The government was urged on Tuesday to promote religious and sectarian harmony and tolerance in order to achieve harmony in society.
Speakers at a seminar on “Fostering Religious Tolerance and Tackling Radicalism”, organised by the Institute of Strategic Studies Islamabad (ISSI) in collaboration with the Embassy of Azerbaijan, said military interventions and social problems were the root cause for radicalisation of society.
The session was followed by a photographic exhibition on “Azerbaijan: The Pearl of Islamic Culture”.
ISSI Chairman ambassador (retd) Khalid Mahmood said economic exploitation, military invasions and foreign interference were the causes for extremism and militancy in the region.
Azerbaijan’s State Committee on Religious Association Deputy Minister Gunduz Ismayilov said socio-economic problems, youth’s disillusionment, ideological gaps, bad governance, and lacuna in religious training are the causes that lead to intolerance.
He said though Azerbaijan has a conflict with Armenia, the country’s budget was socially-oriented instead of being defence-oriented. “To fill in the ideological gaps, the state promotes arts and literature, values, non-government institutions and education,” he said.
Political scientist Dr Rasul Bakhsh Rais said military interventions have gradually suppressed political pluralism in Pakistan.
“The space for pluralism started shrinking in Pakistan in the 1960s during the first military regime,” he said, adding that authoritarian rules always created space for radical organisations.
Head of international relations department at the State Committee on Religious Associations of Azerbaijan, Nijat Mammadli, said the national characteristic of people shaped by history, geography and political factions and state sponsored efforts for promotion of tolerance have contributed to acceptance of diversity in Azerbaijan. He said Pakistan and other Muslim countries could learn from Azerbaijan in promoting religious harmony.
Published in The Express Tribune, December 10th, 2014.