ISLAMABAD: The representatives of civil society, Ulema, minority groups and political parties have called for drastic reforms in religious institutions, media and law enforcing agencies to ensure a peaceful and tolerant society and to avoid tragedies like Peshawar and Kot Radha Kishan.
The participants of the dialogue forum said any failure of government and civil society in taking timely remedial measures to curb extremism and intolerance from the society would expose the society to violence and terrorism.
The dialogue was attended by PML-N Vice President Senator Zafar Ali Shah, head of PTI Ulema Wing Mufti Abdul Qavi, ex-Chairman, council of Islamic Ideology Dr Khalid Masud and Chairman Organization for Research and Education (ORE) Khurshid Nadeem.
The participants of the forum expressed grief over the fact that social institutions shaping public perception have used religious and other sentiments to play with people’s emotions and are thus indirectly responsible for inducing such lawlessness.
“Gravest aspect of this state is that the platform used for imposing such provocative messages was none other than the sacred institution of mosque,” said a joint declaration issued at the end of the dialogue.
“This practice was yet again seen in Kot Radha Kishan incident. Had religious institutions played a responsible role, the same platform could have been used to ensure respect for rule of law. Similarly, the police also stand accused of committing injustice. Unfortunately, over time men of police and other law enforcing agencies have been found involved in acts of terror and murder,” the declaration added.
The participants said the latest incident in Gujrat also involves a police official which points towards a moral turpitude spread across state and society whose persistent indolence in ensuring protection of minorities is putting dent on our national interest which has not only distorted our image in the world but has also threatened our core economic interest. This state of affairs calls for a concerted action to warn the public and private institutions about their responsibilities.”
The forum welcomed the state response of Peshawar incident and suggested several essential steps to be incorporated in national action program.
The forum suggested that as practiced in many other Muslim countries, building and management of mosques should be strictly regulated by the state. Immediate steps are required by the government to regulate the use of loudspeakers from the mosque. Such an approach would be possible through constitution of committees comprising Ulema, civil society and public representatives who can be appointed through mutual consensus to take responsibility of regulating the affairs of mosques.
It also called for setting minimums standard of education for appointing Imams, madrasa principals and Khateebs of mosques so that uneducated people are unable to get themselves appointed to these responsible positions.
Religious education should be regulated by the state in line with the system in vogue for main stream educational institutions. This can be achieved in coordination with Wafaqa (boards) of Madris and by energizing ‘Madrasa Board’, a governmental institution, it added.
“Special attention should be paid to ensure ethical training of members of police and other law enforcing agencies. Institutions responsible for protection of life and property of citizens must be subjected to schooling in ethical values. The state must not abdicate itself of this responsibility,” proposed the forum.
According to participants, media, being an effective tool in the current environment can be made to play a positive role in promoting the values of tolerance, dialogue and confidence building amongst disparate ideologies and beliefs. The importance and value of life can be promoted through this platform.
“It is incumbent upon people conducting religious education to evaluate why religious intolerance has permeated so deep in our society? Why are the minorities made special target of religious hate speech which is endangering their lives? Is it possible that the syllabi and curricula of religious education promote hatred?” the forum questioned.
It proposed that hate speech should be discouraged in syllabi of religious and modern education institutions and media.