MINGORA: Promotion of pluralism and a culture of dialogue among all the communities, and between the state and its citizens is essential for prosperous and peaceful Pakistan, said speakers at a seminar in Kalam, Swat, on Friday.
The seminar was organised by Swat-based Idara Baraye Taleem-o-Taraqi and attended by representatives of various communities living in the north. The participants included teachers, researchers, language and culture activists, religious leaders and social activists from Gigit-Baltistan, Chitral, Swat, Kohistan, Peshawar and Islamabad.
Mohammad Amir Rana, head of the Institute for Peace Studies, Islamabad, Dr Khadim Hussain, head of Bacha Khan Trust Education Foundation, The University of Sydney professor and linguist Dr Ahmar Mahboob and writer and journalist Sabookh Syed were among the key speakers.
Dr Mahboob says there is need to decolonise education
Mr Rana called for continued dialogue among all sections of the society with empathy, respect and appreciation of the diversity Pakistan was bestowed with.
“The various ‘opposing’ groups are also ready to speak to each other and negotiate the diversity, but it seems they have deliberately been left to widen the gap,” he said.
Dr Hussain said that for a genuine pluralistic society they needed to change the very vocabulary of social interaction and socialisation. “We define many of our social relationships and interplay by a language that is used in warlike situation. This needs to be reversed and for that we need to redefine our education,” he said.
Dr Mahboob said that there was a need to decolonise education and design a new pedagogy so as to celebrate the diversity in terms of languages, ethnicities, religious sects and power dynamics.
“Our Boli is not a ‘language’. Our mother tongues used to be building human relationships and we had our own traditions that were cohesive rather than disintegrating, but unfortunately that was colonised and we were stripped of our roots; consequently, we are having fragmented social fabrics,” he said.
Sabookh Syed evaluated the role of religion and media whether they added to the efforts to bring pluralism. He cited verses from the holy Quran and said: “Islam is a religion supporting diversity within and outside it. The various schools of thought in Islam are actually its strength.”
The participants stressed on more connectivity among the different ethnic communities in northern Pakistan.
Published in Dawn, November 2nd, 2019