PESHAWAR - Leaders of different religions here Monday said that all prophets and founders of all religions had promoted peace, patience, and tolerance through their universal teachings and underlined the need for the promotion of interfaith harmony to avert Jaranwala-like incidents in the future.
Haroon Sarbdayal, a representative of the Hindu community in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and a founding member of the Pakistan Council of World Religions, told APP that the promotion of peace, forgiveness, patience, love, brotherhood, and tolerance had been emphasized by all prophets through their universal teachings, actions and deeds.
“Without winning hearts and minds, we can’t come closer to each other and could not develop a society whose inhabitants enjoy equal rights and respect for each other’s belief,” he said, adding the overwhelming support of the Pakistanis has healed wounds of the victim’s families of Jarawanla incident.
Dewa Singh, a leader of the Sikhs community in Peshawar said, “We need to promote ‘acceptance’ instead of ‘tolerance’ because the former is more effective in establishing durable peace, patience, tolerance, and pluralism requires for a prosperous society.”
He said misperceptions among followers of different faiths could be removed by enhancing interaction and dialogues among all religious communities.
Dewa Singh said the visit of Caretaker Prime Minister Anwaarul Haq Kakar to Jarawanla has passed a strong message and commitment of the Govt to protect the religious freedom of all faiths.
He highly appreciated the Prime Minister’s assurance regarding the protection of lives and properties of all minority communities in the country, and bringing the perpetrators of heinous attacks of Jarawanla to justice.
A H Hilali, former Chairman, of the Political Science Department, University of Peshawar, said that Jarawanla’s gory incident was highly condemnable and was an attempt to disrupt interfaith harmony ahead of the general election.
He said intolerance emerged as a serious challenge in Pakistan posing a serious threat to social and cultural values, democracy, and the country’s vital interests.
Since its inception, he said Pakistan had been confronting various challenges including growing political, societal, and religious intolerance mainly due to the fractured governance structure built around many fault lines that often ignited political and economic crises owing to the derailment of the democratic system on several occasions in the past.
The recent surge in political and religious intolerance and wrangles between political parties and workers for powers were spoiling the country’s development and investment process besides hampering economic rehabilitation efforts.
Ejaz Khan, former Chairman International Relations Department, at the University of Peshawar, said that the Jaranwala incident showed rising intolerance crept into the society after the brutal assassination of the first prime minister of Pakistan, Nawabzada Liaquat Ali Khan on October 16, 1951.
He said the assassination of twice-elected prime minister, Benazir Bhutto on December 27, 2007, and the killing of Governor Punjab Salman Taseer on January 4, 2011, and other politicians and civil society members testified to the growing political, societal intolerance, and religious extremism.