Challenges to Social Discourse

By: Editorial Team
Published: December 1, 2017
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In this day and age, when Pakistan faces severe challenges to its security and economy, there is a need for a joint effort by all stakeholders including academia, politicians, military and civil society to take the country forward.

External and internal threats, such as one posed by the country’s eastern neighbour and by followers of extremist ideologies trying to brainwash Pakistani youth, have for far  too long hampered the country’s initiatives to make social and economic progress.

It hasn’t been easy for a country like Pakistan to be on constant watch countering enemies on its eastern border and taming down terrorists within the country. This war, which has been ongoing for over a decade now, has cost the country incalculable losses in human life, infrastructure and economy.

Such a situation has also led to severe scrutiny from the international community, as enemy propaganda to portray Pakistan as an exporter of terror continues to garner quite a few listeners. But the truth remains that Pakistan, since its creation in August 1947, has continued to be a firm believer of peace and order in the world.

Pakistan is not only a nuclear power but also a staunch propagator of peace in the world which is evident by the contribution of the Pakistani military in the UN Peacekeeping forces

In an effort to highlight Pakistan’s contribution towards peace, the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, University of Karachi recently organised an international conference titled “Diversity and Peace: Challenges to Social Discourse” on November 7-8, 2017 at the University of Karachi.

The conference aimed to promote harmony, and prosperity through intercultural understanding. The purpose of the conference was to create a bridge between nations to remove stereotypes and save Pakistan’s social environment, as well as, international relations with reference to economy, politics, ethics, justice, peace and global mobilisation.

Pakistan is not only a nuclear power but also a staunch propagator of peace in the world which is evident by the contribution of the Pakistani military in the United Nations Peacekeeping forces. The Pakistani nation is committed to propagating the message of peace and tolerance, and international scholars from Ukraine, Turkey, China, and Germany who participated in the conference affirmed this message.

The motive of the conference was to promote a soft image of Pakistan, a land with respect for all cultures and ideologies. Pakistan is an example of unity between multiple faiths including Muslims, Hindus and Christians.

Peace and harmony within humanity demand that we appreciate the richness and beauty of diversity. Diversity is a mutual trait of all of human society. Renowned political analyst and Professor Emeritus, Punjab University, Dr. Hasan Askari Rizvi, delivering the keynote address rightly identified that “a large part of the community is suffering from mutual hatred, ethnocentric mindset, intolerance, extremism and terrorism.”

Therefore, creating and promoting diversity should be considered a noble cause under such circumstances. The need of the hour is to promote the political accommodation of diversity and a culture of tolerance and harmony through a dialogue across all kinds of divides that are encountered today.

The need of the hour is to promote the political accommodation of diversity and a culture of tolerance and harmony through a dialogue across all kinds of divides that are encountered today

On our part, we need to ensure cooperation and interaction rather than building bridges or barriers that only divide. In Dr. Askari’s view, religious and cultural extremism and terrorism dating back to the 1980’s involved domestic and global factors which adversely affected Pakistani society and Pakistan lost the societal feature of cultural and religious tolerance and political accommodation. Such a scenario puts academicians and intellectuals on a leading role to encourage dialogue among different sections of society to promote diversity.

All in all, the international conference brought together researchers from multiple disciplines, who along with academia and the help of civil society and policy makers, considered how various aspects of social identity and social relationships can promote sustainable global peace. The conference was structured to lead to the production of a publication that will serve both as an important record of and statement on peace and conflict resolution in the world.

“Pakistan is a peaceful country and Karachi is a peaceful city, we are here as ambassadors of diversity and peace. The University of Karachi is the center of academic and research activities of the country. We would like to come here again since we are overwhelmed with Pakistani hospitality,” proclaimed foreign scholars praising Karachi’s hospitality and University of Karachi’s academic environment.


Setting direction

Thus spoke some key experts

Jam Mehtab Dahar, Minister of Education, Government of Sindh:

 “The conference is a symbol for the social revolution to call for peace and reject extremism. In the prevailing contemporary world we must realise that we will have to work together to strengthen human respect and unity for humanity. Such a conference in Pakistan is proof that Pakistan is a peace-loving country.”

Dr. Ghulam Raza Bhatti, Member (Operations and Planning), Higher  Education Commission:

 “Historically, man started as a lonely scavenger and slowly developed into communities. As societies advanced, conflicts between humans arose. In order to prosper, humans must realise that the conflicts they face are due to their own faults. Looking to the environment and jungles surrounding their communities provided an excellent example of how even animals in the wild lived in perfect peace and harmony together despite their diversity. Thus, even nature has an organised system that human beings could learn and benefit from.”

Paulina Fecht, University of Heidelberg, Germany:

 “The post-Second World War Era was a revolution in itself because of the emerging trend of reconciliation in the European states which was unprecedented in the past due to power politics. The Franco-German peace process is a classic example of a post-World War II period that ended a centuries old rivalry between the two nationalist states and brought peace and stability in the region. Hostile relations between India and Pakistan, although not centuries old, and the clash of ideologies between the two newly born states led the region towards war and a nuclear arms race, thus making the region the hottest nuclear flash point. There is a great lesson for India and Pakistan in the Franco-German reconciliation model.”

Professor Dr. Muhammad Ajmal Khan, Vice Chancellor of the University of Karachi:

 “This conference will not only strengthen the ideology of Pakistan but will also unleash the process of meaningful academic discourse which can positively transform the mindset of our people and bring a qualitative change in our society through meaningful research in the field of social sciences. Social sciences is no more in isolation in the contemporary era but has rather gained significant importance in the backdrop of political, social, and economic events taking place in the world. These changes are no longer limited by political, physical, and natural boundaries.”

Dr. Olena Bordilovska, Kyiv Taras Shevchenko National University, Ukraine:

 “Ukraine, as one of the NIS (New Independent States) is a bright example of both peace proclamations and security challenges. For the last 26 years, multiple efforts have been made to create a positive image of the country, to provide peace and harmony in their relationship with the neighbours and to ensure nation-building on the basis of cultural diversity, social harmony, and economic prosperity.”

Dr. Yahya Yesilyurt, Kastamonu University, Turkey:

 “Due to Turkey’s geographical position, it will play the role of a coordinator, which will provide power to the region, and be able to generate promising policies on a global scale. For this reason, countries such as Pakistan, Azerbaijan, and Indonesia have a share in the regional developments and contribution to the world peace.”

Dr. Xiaoqing Xie, University of Geosciences, China:

 “The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) construction is an important mark reflecting the China-Pakistan strategic cooperative partnership. CPEC and the One Belt One Road construction are closely linked. CPEC has played an exemplary role in One Belt One Road construction, which will create a more favorable external environment for CPEC construction. Promoting economic growth and employment in Pakistan is possible by helping Pakistan get rid of the plight of energy shortage, and pushing bilateral economic, trade, and employment cooperation between China and Pakistan.”

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