ISLAMABAD: Speakers at a conference on Saturday maintained that inter-faith harmony and peaceful coexistence are the basic traits of an Islamic society, adding that dialogue is the only way forward to resolve issues.
The seminar titled ‘Pakistan Towards Peaceful Coexistence’ was organised by the Pakistan Peace Collective, a project of the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, in collaboration with the Council of Islamic Ideology and Paigham-e-Pakistan here at the Information Service Academy.
Speaking on the occasion, Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Information and Broadcasting Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan underlined the need for national unity to confront the challenges being faced by the country. She said ministries of religious affairs, law and justice and information and broadcasting need to sit together and prepare a roadmap for encouraging dialogue in the society.
“Instead of talking about differences, we all need to highlight the commonalities that bring us closer,” she added.
Dr Firdous said confrontation can never be solution to any issue. “When a nation gets united to overcome challenges, it emerges successful,” she maintained, adding that Pakistan’s foundations were laid on an ideology.
She said Islam stands for peace and it has no link with hatred and extremism. She said a handful of individuals and some groups have held hostage the entire society in the name of religion, whereas in reality they have no link whatsoever with Islam. She said that state’s intervention has become imperative to stop these groups and individuals in the better of interest of the people.
About hate speech issue, she said Islam does not allow anyone to impose his personal thoughts on others forcibly. “Our religion gives all the right of freedom of expression. But neither our religion nor our law allows anyone to impose his thought or ideology upon others by force. The extremist attitudes and thoughts are negations of basic philosophy of Islam,” she said, adding that Islam has given a code of conduct to its followers and provided them the best charter of human rights through the Holy Quran, which, she said, was also incorporated by the United Nations in its charter.
She said religious scholars, being the custodians of Islamic teachings, can play a pivotal role in promoting rule of law and tolerance in the society. She said interfaith harmony is the first roadmap for tolerance.
Other who spoke on the occasion included Dr Farkhanda Zia from International Islamic University Islamabad, Federal Judicial Academy Director Huma Chughtai, Pakistan National Council of the Arts Chairman Jamal Shah, Dawah Academy Dean Riffat Hashmi and Allama Iqbal Open University Vice Chancellor Dr Ziaul Qayyum.
Separately, a Paigham-e-Pakistan Conference was organised at the GIFT University in Gujranwala in collaboration with the Islamic Research Institute (IRI). Renowned scholars, intellectuals, faculty members and civil society activists participated in the event.
Prominent among those who spoke on the occasion were IRI Director General Dr Ziaul Haq, University of Gujrat Head of Department Dr Arshad, Centre of Islamic Studies Director Dr Saeed ur Rehman, University of Punjab Dean Dr Hammad Lakhvi and GIFT University Rector Dr Faheem ul Islam.
In their speeches, the eminent speakers said the issues of hate speech and extremist mindset need to be tackled with a moderate and progressive vision, linking it with true Islamic philosophy.
They asked the religious scholars to develop consensus on important issues after holding dialogue. They said the nation will have to defeat the extremist mindset for country’s territorial integrity, sovereignty, overall national interest and recognition at the international front. The also urged the government to fulfill its responsibility to provide citizens their rights in accordance with the country’s constitution and Islamic principles.