His Excellency, the Ambassador of Germany to Pakistan, Mr. Martin Kobler, went live on Facebook to talk about Multiple Identities. He was addressing the online audience of Hum Ahang, a Federation of Germany supported initiative working on social cohesion in Pakistan. The Hum Ahang community is a young group from all over Pakistan, working towards promoting diversity and tolerance to build cohesive societies and ultimately a cohesive country.

His Excellency, opened the session with an insightful definition of multiple identities. He shared that “ I’m a German, but I am also a man, a father, a football fan and many other things. My whole personality is composed of all these multiple identities.” His Excellency elaborated on how concepts of multiple identities can help in conflict resolution and promotion of social cohesion. He then opened the floor to questions from the listeners, who in turn presented some very pertinent questions. The questions ranged from understanding the differences between multiple identities and characteristics, how to prioritize our identities, how multiple identities can promote tolerance and acceptance, and the difference in the identities of Germany and Pakistan. More importantly, His Excellency shared how the many identities of Pakistan were a strength and should be nurtured rather than negated. He felt that as societies we needed to look towards commonalities and appreciate the differences, while tolerating elements that may go against our own point of view. He urged the youth to read the UN Declaration of Human Rights, as it is the greatest secular document and should be our guideline for leading our lives.

Hum Ahang, is an initiative working with over 430,000 young men and women all over Pakistan. It works towards building social cohesion through online and face to face discussions on four thematic areas – Non Violent Communications, Critical Thinking, Multiple Identities and Culture & Entertainment. The initiative has seen that when there is a realization of the role and impact of these areas, there is a positive individual and societal behaviour change. Working for over a year, the initiative has built an army of peace ambassadors in 9 districts of all provinces, who are working to promote social cohesion and positivity in their communities. Hum Ahang is run by MindMap Communications, an entity using the digital medium for social change.

During the session the H.E. Mr. Kobler, elaborated that identity is something that we are born with and it also evolves as we grow. We need to make sure that we prioritise those identities that have a positive impact in our own lives and in society as a whole. He said that tolerance hurts, as it goes against the grain of what we feel and think, and that is the true test of our tolerance and acceptance. We have to show tolerance, even if don’t agree and this is particularly true for religious and political beliefs.

Over the course of the session His Excellency answered some very tough questions to the satisfaction of the audience. While most of the audience was very involved in the discussion of multiple identities and very impressed by the Ambassador’s knowledge of the subject, there were those who were interested in education opportunities in and visa possibilities for Germany.

In closing H.E. Mr. Kobler, urged the youth not to be divided by those who wanted to benefit from the division, but to unite and come together in their common identities while tolerating and accepting the rich diversity of the people and the culture. He said that this was the strength of Pakistan and the sooner the youth realized that the better.