Many lament how interfaith harmony is fizzling out. Yet, those strive to foster such harmony are rejected and viewed with suspicion. This “do nothing and sit around” attitude should be discarded, should we want ourselves to live in a tolerant society.
These thoughts came in a workshop-discussion organized by Pak Institute for Peace Studies (PIPS), on “Engaging on freedom of faith and inter-faith harmony” in Islamabad on 12 April 2018. The workshop was attended by around 20 experts, faith leaders, and development professionals who have worked in the domain of interfaith harmony. The purpose of the discussion was to know how to undertake different activities aimed at enhancing interfaith harmony.
Senior journalist Sabookh Syed agreed that media have been reporting mostly on political and security happenings, at the cost of issues pertaining to inter-faith harmony. But he reminded that media itself are influenced by viewers’ choices. While we tend to talk a lot, blaming media for everything, we rarely take action to our betterment, he said, summarizing, “Vote and remote are in your hands.”
Participants were told about the centrality of society in creating a peaceful environment. Unless people embrace each other, expecting state authorities to do is illogical. To this end, faith leaders can play critical role too.
Discussing that role, religious scholar Amanat Rasool discussed that faith leaders can bring about reforms in the society through their religious sites.
Youth activist Zeeshan Zafar stressed that the country’s youth population seems to going in the wrong direction, largely because of the environment they are brought upon it. He stressed upon prioritizing reforms in educational curriculum.
It was also suggested that religious tourism in the country can also help in melting people’s opinion about each other.
Development expert Rashad Bokhari commended the work of people and organizations striving for a tolerant and peaceful free society, but lamented that such change agents are wrongly linked to external forces. This, he said, is the biggest hindrance in attempting to undertake any such activity, calling for discarding this attitude.