Islamabad – Policy Institute for Peace and Development (PIPD) organized a round table conference titled “Tolerance & Interfaith Harmony for Peace” to factor in the prospects, opportunities and challenges towards achieving a tolerant and peaceful society through fostering interfaith harmony in Pakistan. The chief guest of the conference was Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs, Mr. Ali Muhammad Khan while Minister of State for SAFRON and Narcotics Control joined the conference as a guest of honor. Among the other esteemed guests, Third Secretary of the Embassy of Azerbaijan, Mr. Elchin Mehdiyev also honored the conference as a special guest while the conference was moderated by Director Coordination PIPD, Mr. Shahroz Khattak.
While addressing the conference, Mr. Ali Muhamad Khan said that the teachings of all religions are based on peace, love, and harmony and a true follower of any religion can never think of provoking hatred against other faiths. We as Muslims must pay special attention towards the teachings of Holy Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) while treating followers of other faiths to inculcate peace and tolerance in our country. Mr. Shehryar Khan Afridi stressed upon the need for promoting the understanding of other religions so that the misperceptions can be addressed and tolerance for other faiths can be enhanced. Islam provides a clear set of guidelines in this regard and we must respect other’s beliefs accordingly. Both the worthy ministers appreciated President PIPD, Ms. Wadana Gul and Director PIPD Mr. Arsalan Khattak for organizing the conference on such an important topic.
The President of Policy Institute for Peace & Development, Ms. Wadana Gul, while addressing the conference, remarked that there exists an imperative need for dialogue among different faiths and religions to enhance mutual understanding, harmony and cooperation among people. tolerance is the foundation of co-existence and peace cannot be achieved without cultivating interfaith as well as inter-sectarian harmony in our society, she added. General Secretary Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, Mr. Harris Khalique who is also a poet and lecturer at LUMS noted that we must encourage the followers of all faiths to spread the message of interfaith harmony and goodwill in their churches, mosques, synagogues, temples and other places of worship according to their own religious traditions or convictions.
Senior member of the Advisory Board CGSS, former Federal Secretary and DG Radio Pakistan Mr. Ashfaq Ahmed Gondal said that Pakistan is the land where 95% of the total population is Muslim, while the rest five percent are Christians, Hindus, Parsis, Zoroastrians, Bahais, Sikhs, Buddhists, and small portions Kalasha, Kihals, and Jains. Muslims as a majority bear a greater responsibility to ensure that this diversity signifies the need to develop a pluralistic society in which people with different beliefs can live in peace and harmony. Research Associate Muslim Institute, Mr. Asif Tanveer noted that tolerance and interfaith harmony have remained a significant topic of religious discussions since centuries and the modern era warrants serious and sincere efforts to promote mutual respect and understanding for all religions to materialize peaceful coexistence for all. Head of the Department University of South Asia, Professor Pervaiz Haider Nonari said that interfaith dialogue has been an integral part of Islam since the beginning and it is a widely held fact that Islam would not have developed with such pace and strength if it had not been for interfaith dialogue.
The conference was attended by a diverse audience including policy experts, seasoned academics, research scholars and university students. President PIPD, Ms. Wadana Gul paid her gratitude towards all the honorable guests and audience for their time and presence while she especially thanked Mr. Rashid Aftab, Director Riphah Institute of Public Policy for providing their venue and support for the conference.