Islamabad - Extremism is the biggest threat to the state and peace cannot be ensured in any society without tolerance. The speakers argued during a national conference on peace and tolerance organised by South Asia Partnership-Pakistan here at a local hotel. They said the presence of tolerance at state and public level was needed more than ever before. It was shared that the brunt of this trend had been borne by the vulnerable sections of the society including religious minorities.

Chairman Pakistan Ulema Council, Maulana Tahir Ashrafi, said that not any particular section of the society was responsible for the present state of affairs of intolerance, militancy and extremism. He said that the code of conduct prepared by Ulema Council was not implemented which prohibited the use of the loudspeakers. The qualification of prayer leader is never taken into account while appointing him, he said. Tahir Ashrafi said that in Sindh there was no issue of Hindu and Muslim but it was an issue of the rich and the poor. The exploiter takes the shelter under the name of Islam, he says.

Commenting on the protection of religious minorities he said that public administration and law enforcement agencies were not playing their due rule in the incidents of mob attacks on religious minorities. He demanded the abolition of Islamic Ideology Council (IIC). He said that superior courts should play more proactive role for stopping the incidents of forced conversions. He asked the government to regulate the Friday sermons and suggested that gap between religious entities and other civil society organisations should be minimised. He said that spreading of IS (Islamic State) was imminent in Pakistan.

Speaking on the occasion, Karamat Ali said that intolerance was not present in Pakistani society from the inception but successive governments with the help of feudal class created such conditions which led to present state of affairs. He said that conflicts between South Asian countries were a big reason for extremism and intolerance in Pakistan and other neighbouring states. The financial resources need to be transferred towards education and improving social security system, he said. It would help eliminating intolerance and extremism from the society.

Khursheed Nadeem said that the education system was dividing the people of Pakistan. The state should come up with clear stance on the various conflicts present in the society.

Charles Amjad Ali, internationally recognised scholar, raised two important questions about the characteristics and rights of the citizenship. He said the word citizen had a concept of exclusion in itself since it had been historically used only for the people living in the city and not in the countryside. He added that state of Pakistan was created on the name of protecting the rights of religious minorities that were Muslims of subcontinent. Achievement of the justice should be the basic principle of the citizenship.

Salman Raja Advocate said that no child could be forced to teach religious education other than of his/her own faith according to the constitution of Pakistan. He added that violence in the society was prevalent due to elements who wanted to impose their faith on others.

Professor Mahrdad from Bihari community while sharing his views said that humans were not created for spreading hatred, extremism and tolerance. The religious scholars should work towards changing of behaviours of people which can lead to tolerance. Pandit Channa Laal said that curriculum was spreading hatred and intolerance among different religions. He added that misconceptions about Hindus were rampant in the society. Speaking on the occasion Irfan Mufti said that the religious minorities were not on the priority list of political parties and parliamentarians. Their representatives hesitate while raising the issues of religious minorities in Pakistan. There still exist discriminatory laws against religious minorities which are generally used for their persecution. The allegation of blasphemy amounts to death warrant without any legal procedure available to accused.