Speakers at a seminar suggested religious leadership and followers of all religions to work towards peace and development; and to take care and stand with minorities, helping them whenever needed.

“We can observe that most faith groups share an interest in protecting the helpless in our societies,” they said while addressing a thought-provoking seminar and discussion on the concept of peace and development in religions and the role of religious leaders, by the Engaging Pakistani Interfaith Community (EPIC).

Netherlands Deputy Ambassador Josephine Frantzen told the audience that her country would support all efforts for peaceful coexistence in Pakistan. She urged all the stakeholders to continue to work together and pen out a coordinated response to the challenges.

She said that education has an important role to play in sustaining peace and promoting sustainable development. The ambassador said that everyone should ponder upon solutions for development and think about ways to combat humanitarian challenges.

Sharing his thoughts, Javaid William highlighted the role of religious leaders in peace and development and called for support at the highest level to ensure their meaningful participation. He said that everyone would have to realise the importance of peace for sustainable development.

On the occasion, Elaine Alam spoke of the role of women in peace building. “We can see this gathering as an opportunity to showcase the powerful contributions that can be made when people and organisations from across religious boundaries work together to address pressing challenges,” she said.

The participants included Interfaith Advisory Commission of Pakistan Chairman Abdul Wahab Roprri, Professor Kalyan Singh Kalyan, Professor Matiullah Bajwa, Father Morris Jalal, Dr Munawar Chand, Maulana Shakeelur Rehman Nasir, Hafiz Samiullah and others.

The speakers called this a chance for leaders to re-focus policy debates on people in need. They reiterated concern about some incidents of intolerance against minorities and stressed the need to explore the ways to stem misperceptions and misunderstandings against the people who experience relative disadvantage against members of a dominant social group.

Acknowledging the good work of the government in addressing the plight of many, they urged stronger action by individuals and communities collectively. They underscored the respect for diversity which enriched any society with new ideas. They also focused on the need to push for solutions to those problems across all facets of the society and special ability of the religious leaders to unify people across lines of difference.