KARACHI - The responsibility of a state is predominantly to protect basic human rights of its citizens. Such a responsibility can only be internalised by the citizens too, if a culture of inquiry is promoted. This will also iron out social differences in the long run.

These views were expressed in a two-day dialogue on “Social Harmony, Tolerance and Education”, organised by the Pak Institute of Peace Studies (PIPS), a national think tank, with college teachers from Sindh and Quetta.

Columnist Khursheed Nadeem lamented that our society has not witnessed the level of understanding and acceptance of the rights and responsibilities among the totality of its citizens that are required for the maintenance and improvement of any constitutional democracy. Even now, he said, “there are dramatic demands for freedom of social integration on the part of people.”

Much of this, he said, had to do with how religion was used by the state. “The only responsibility of a state is to protect basic human rights under a social contract”, he said. Our social behaviors developed under certain narrative of the state are not real, he said, adding that instead of opting for a top-down approach, existing educational and religious institutions should shape behaviours through a culture of dialogue and interaction.

Chairman of the Council of Islamic Ideology Qibla Ayaz said that each state in the world play some role in shaping social behaviours. But societies opt to those things they attract. “Since the rise of modern humanism, our society has reached beyond the empirical limits of observations. Thus it is important to consider and measure out social behavior from the perspective of norms, values and interactions among individuals.” He opined that religious institutions have influential role in making ideas of society because they carry the archetypes and affect people’s thoughts deeply.

He added that “religion can’t be expelled from our society the way like west as we have our own societal values. Religions have played a role in conflicts and we all know about that. But religions have also contributed significantly to humanization and ecologically responsible societies. However as far the states concerns, they should not be involved in shaping social behaviors.”

Former chairman of the CII Khalid Masud asserted that education tells the ways on how to get knowledge and these ways shape societal behaviors. Thus, if someone wanted to change a social value then they have to develop social institutions, he added. “In some countries religious systems are more powerful from their political landscape. The dynamic restructuring of the network are main drivers of the transition in behavior which generating mechanism for co-evolution of individual behavior and social structure.