Pakistanis – a tolerant, compassionate nation

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PESHAWAR
Despite engineered waves of extremism or sectarian and communal divides maliciously propagated by its arch enemies, Pakistanis still adhere to its noble norms creating a society living in different regions and speaking different languages.
From the shores of Karachi and Gwadar to plains in Punjab and Sindh and hilly terrains of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan, Pakistanis are woven into congenial brotherhood despite a few trying to malign the motherland through planted extremism.
The holy month of Ramazan is a true manifestation of this sentiment wherein people like Iqbal Khan, a 28-year-old electrician, with a smile and exudes the high spirit of sharing edibles is seen seeking solace by dolling out dates and pakora among fasting Muslims as well as non-Muslims before Aftar at Peshawar cantonment.
In traditional Peshawari attire, the motivated electrician has been distributing packets of dates, chicken pakora, rice and other edibles among fasting Muslims as well as Sikhs, Christians and others coming his way.
Demonstration of this act of generosity, love and affection for people is seen all around Pakistan during this sacred month as thousands of Pakistanis enjoy inner satisfaction from this act like Iqbal Khan.
“The soothing moment of distributing Aftar items reminds me of my late father like whom I also enjoy this practice like a true Muslim and Pakistani,” remarked Iqbal Khan. “I strongly believe in brotherhood, interfaith harmony and tolerance in society.” “This act of winning others’ hearts and minds brings us closer and develops a tolerant society based on warmth, empathy and mutual coexistence,” he added.
Professor Dr Abdul Ghafoor, former Director Sheikh Zayad Islamic Centre Peshawar sees this coherence as a fruit of religion Islam that laid great emphasis on peace, tolerance and interfaith harmony in the Charter of Madina.
“This historic charter provides religious freedom to Muslims and followers of other religions for creating a progressive, prosperous and tolerant society,” he stated.
He said Father of the Nation, Quaid e Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah’s historic address on August 11, 1947 to members of the Constituent Assembly and our 1973 Constitution also enshrine tolerance, unity and mutual coexistence.
“The Quaid had envisioned a country where people irrespective of their religion, caste, creed and ethnicity could live freely with dignity in an environment of mutual coexistence and peace,” he said.
He said a tolerant society ensures social inclusion besides providing all citizens equal opportunities to grow in line with Paigham-e-Pakistan’s Fatwa signed by religious scholars of all schools of thought.
“This fatwa provides an umbrella to protect the country from all forms of terrorism, extremism, hatred and violence against fellow Pakistanis,” he said.
“This is our national narrative and also rules out self-proclaimed acts of violent extremism in the name of religion as such nefarious acts are prohibited by our Shariah and weaken our country.”
Former Chairman Political Science Department, Peshawar University, Dr A H Hilali explained there is misconception in some circles about our society as many of our critics misconceive ideological differences and religious extremism.
“This misconception occasionally tarnishes our image although Pakistanis being a responsible and peace loving nation had shown great maturity, acumen and tolerance even after the Army Public School’s horrific attack on December 16, 2014,” Hilali said.
He also mentioned different terrorist attacks on our security forces and said, Pakistan has been successfully fighting a war against terrorism for over two decades and its nation had rendered matchless sacrifices in this fight.
He said Pakistan always desired cordial relations with its neighbors but both its Eastern and western neighbors had been hostile perpetrating extremist acts against its solidarity and sovereignty.
Haroon Sarbdayal, the founding member of the Pakistan Council of World Religion said that all prophets had promoted tolerance, forgiveness and peace in their teachings, actions and deeds.
He said the opening of Kartarpur corridor by Pakistan’s Government was a historic development signifying that Pakistan was a peace loving and tolerant country where non-Muslims including Sikh and Hindus were enjoying complete religious freedom.
He said Kartapur corridor, was first proposed in early 1999 by then Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and Indian Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee. However, it was completed in 2019, enabling Sikh pilgrims to celebrate 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak Sahib.
“This initiative not only connected the Sikh community on both sides of the border but also opened a new chapter of peace, tolerance and religious freedom,” he said.
“What we need is to promote both acceptance and tolerance as it could be more effective in nailing enemies’ propaganda for falsely highlighting Pakistan as an intolerant nation.”
Sarbdayal pleaded that the misconception of an intolerant society could also be reversed by enhancing interaction, debate and dialogue among religious leaders in media and social circles besides the establishment of interfaith harmony desks at universities and colleges to equip our youth to thwart this malicious campaign.
Pakistanis are a tolerant society but unfortunately, this message could not be properly conveyed the world over to discourage elements from spreading chaos and hatred.
Therefore a holistic approach including meaningful dialogue among different stakeholders, a positive approach of media, revisiting educational curricula and speedy justice were imperative to nail the propaganda against Pakistan.