ISLAMABAD - Speakers have urged the government to approve culture policy containing rich diversity, providing an enabling environment for pluralism to peter out extremist voices.

These suggestions came at a consultative gathering “cultural diversity and pluralistic co-existence” — the eighth in a series suggesting a mechanism to counter violent extremism — hosted by Pak Institute for Peace Studies (PIPS), an Islamabad-based think-tank her on Tuesday.

The participants called upon the parliament and provincial assemblies to initiate debates on dissipating diversity caused by policies aimed at shaping singular national identity in the past. “These policies failed to achieve the goal of social cohesion, a situation aggravated further by the wave of extremists, who, by their nature, are against pluralism. Today, cultural spaces upholding diversity have shrunk. Today is the need to reclaim those spaces at both intellectual and physical realms. Only then can extremism be eliminated in the long run,” they said.

The group called for immediately approving the cultural policy at national and provincial levels. The policy, it was suggested, shall be reflective of universal human values, extracted from the international statutes Pakistan has signed upon. Decrying negative practices carried out in the garb of local cultures, the group suggested the approved cultural policy shall clearly spell out gender equality as its cardinal principle.

They also called for charting “Cultural National Action Plan”, which facilitates celebrating cultural activities, inclusive of all faith and ethnicities.

The group called for celebrating cultural events at all tiers, promoting unsung role models by bestowing them with awards and by engaging culture-friendly professionals in institutions to impact cultural diversity and preserve folk culture and poetry, cultural heritage inclusive of all faiths. These measures, of protecting cultural diversity, will also boost tourism in the country, they said.