Call to take practical steps to eradicate sectarian violence in the country

KARACHI: Speakers at a seminar on Wednesday highlighted the issues of extremism and sectarian violence in the country and called for taking practical steps to eradicate the menace.

They also condemned the burning of churches and houses of the Christian community in Jaranwala.

The seminar — Sectarian Violence: Violation of Human Rights — was organised by Karachi University’s School of Law.

Senior journalist Mazhar Abbas said all incidents of sectarian violence were violations of basic human rights.

He said the country had lost its direction only a few years after independence, when religion started to be used for political means. That was the time when things went wrong because it ultimately led to extreme sectarianism and violence, he added.

He said that non-state actors were now more powerful than the state and they dictated what to do.

Speaking on the occasion, retired Justice Nazar Akbar said sectarian violence in the country was very politically motivated.

He said the Constitution provided religious freedom and protection to all people, but unfortunately, it had always been violated.

Senator Shahadat Awan of the Pakistan Peoples Party said it was necessary to raise a voice against violations of human rights and that practical steps were needed to eradicate sectarian violence in the country.

He added that no religion allowed taking up arms against those with whom one had differences.

Another PPP leader Sharmila Faruqui believed that incidents like Jaranwala happened mainly due to the lack of education and awareness. She said that in such matters, people often did not even know what exactly they were fighting over.

Another major reason why people took the law into their own hands was the lack of effective governance and law enforcement in the country, she said, adding that a strong governance and justice system was needed to curb such incidents.

Speaking on the occasion, KU Vice Chancellor Prof Khalid Mahmood Iraqi said, “Extremism in Pakistan is very unfortunate, and the incident of Jaranwala has damaged the fabric of society.”

He said what happened on Aug 16 in Jaranwala was totally against the norms of a civilised society.

Speaking on the occasion, Dr Hassan Auj said the condemnation of Jaranwala violence by many sections of society was not done the way it should have been, just because those people whose houses and places of worship had been attacked belonged to a minority community.

He said schools should teach children from the beginning how to treat minorities.

He demanded that the government introduce an ethics course at school and university level focusing on the rights of minorities.

Published in Dawn, August 24th, 2023

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