Pluralism amidst intolerance

By Islamuddin GARAM CHASHMA, Dec 8: Launching ceremony of the HEC-funded research project of PDDC-AKU was held at a hotel in Chitral on Friday. The project would study the prevalence of peace and pluralism in Chitral in these troubled times for the rest of Pakistan and the findings would be replicated in other parts of the country. Before the proceedings could start, a village-mate of mine who works with an NGO took me aside to say that my piece on mismanagement during inter-school tournament had been disliked by certain organizers who were likely to arrange assault on me. He advised me not to roam in the market area and go home after the seminar. I could not believe that persons connected with the noble profession of education would prefer to answer healthy criticism through violence instead of argument. In all training manuals for teachers critical friendship is considered to be best friendship. Earlier it was reported in these pages that a lecturer of SBBU had faced attempt on his life for reporting an incident of extremism during Eid sermon. Given this background, how can we take genuine pride in being peaceful and pluralistic, is a million dollar question. Peace in a graveyard would come from fear, fear of the unknown and of ghosts because we believe in them instead of testing the veracity of their existence. Education has become a tool to lock minds, create fear and deny scientific knowledge and prefer blind faith and reality of afterlife at the cost of the present although Islam places equal focus on life in this world and in the hereafter. Then whom should we give credit to for peace and pluralism on the surface though there are brewing conflicts under the surface stalling durable peace and development which can only come after conflict resolution and not brushing them under the carpet to fester and give bad smell before afflicting the society with a terminal cancer. Logically, one of the proposals advanced for sustainable peace and pluralism during the seminar was to correct the education system and instill tolerance compliance into it and secondly to ensure that governmental and non- governmental organizations working for pluralism must be manned by the right kind of manpower. Without developing respect and ownership for pluralism and healthy criticism we cannot sustain the peace that is our greatest asset. At present, we owe it to those who are killing their conscience and self-respect and allowing themselves to be hostage in the hands of the intolerants on a daily basis to preserve this peace. Genuine peace will only come when we start tolerating and respecting views of people like Zahoor ul Haq Danish and judge people on the basis of what t is said and not who says it. For my own piece on the tournament, I had not criticized any person. I criticized the system with a view to reforming it and put forward workable suggestions which the organizers should have used to bring about improvements instead of taking it personal and miss the opportunity for correction. We must come out of narcicism and start believing that as humans we are fallible.]]>

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