LAHORE: Speakers at a seminar suggested a constructive role of all religions and the leadership of different faiths for peace and development, to take care of the vulnerable and to stand together with minorities.
“We can observe that most faith groups share an interest in protecting the vulnerable in our societies,” they said while addressing a thought-provoking seminar and discussion on the concept of peace and development in religions and the role of religious leaders, by the Engaging Pakistani Interfaith Community (EPIC).
Deputy Ambassador of Netherlands Josephine Frantzen told the audience that her country would support all efforts for peace and peaceful coexistence in Pakistan. She urged all the stakeholders to continue to work together in a coherent and coordinated response to the challenges. She said that education has an important role to play in sustaining peace and promoting sustainable development.
“Everyone should develop solutions to development and tackle humanitarian challenges.”
Sharing his thoughts, Javaid William highlighted the role of religious leaders in peace and development and called for support at the highest level to ensure their participation. He said that everyone would have to realise the importance of peace for sustainable development. “We all have much to learn from each other,” he said.
On the occasion, Elaine Alam spoke of the role of women in peacebuilding. “We can see this gathering as an opportunity to showcase the powerful contributions that can be made when people and organisations from across religious boundaries work together to address challenges,” she said.
The participants that included Interfaith Advisory Commission of Pakistan Chairman Abdul Wahab Roprri, Professor Kalyan Singh Kalyan, Professor Matiullah Bajwa, Father Morris Jalal, Dr Munawar Chand, Maulana Shakeelur Rehman Nasir, Hafiz Samiullah and others, took part in a panel discussion on the concept of religions and shared their on-the-ground experiences.
The speakers said that it’s a chance for faith leaders to refocus policy debates on people in need. They reiterated concern about some incidents of intolerance against minorities; and stressed the need to explore the ways to stem misperceptions and misunderstandings against the people who experience relative disadvantage as compared to members of a dominant social group.
Acknowledging the good work of the government in addressing the plight of many, they urged stronger action by individuals and communities collectively. They underscored the respect for diversity which enriched any society with new ideas.