My deepest condolences and prayers to the families and friends who lost loved ones in Lahore at the recent senseless crimes. Our prayers also go to the hundreds who were injured and their families and friends. Life will never be the same for them. Also, our condolences and prayers go to all affected by the recent crimes in Brussels.

Let us also pray for the perpetrators, even if we cannot always find in our hearts to forgive them.

In future, we must search for more inclusive policies so that every citizen can feel valued and loved in the land they live in. Europe hasn’t always done well for everyone; perhaps only 80-90 percent of the newcomers have been well integrated. That is perhaps a form of success in the otherwise culturally and religiously quite sheltered European countries till a couple of generations ago. But if one belongs to the minority that does not feel integrated, it is a disaster, and some few of them may be dragged into extremist groups and ideologists. Sadly, it is a form of engagement to join such groups, albeit helplessly.

Note that I don’t use the terms ‘terrorist’ or ‘terrorism’. I don’t believe any human being or group is evil, as those terms indicate. I believe individuals or groups can do evil things, or be driven to desperate and illogical actions. But it is as much the leaders and the majority society’s role to help those who go astray to be pulled into a meaning full life; and it is the responsibility of those who are inclined to radicalisation to think before it is too late.

If we cannot begin to think and act based on this type of analysis, unjust societies are in deep trouble. It is only through fairness we will be able to live peacefully together. All have a responsibility to create such societies, especially leaders and those who are affluent. In Europe, it is the 80-90 percent who is successful, including immigrants among them, who must help immigrants and indigenous citizens who need help, to find the good life they all seek – as we all long for.

All democracies need political support as well as dissent to be vibrant. It is a form of engagement and participation to be in opposition.

Without it, all power is handed over to the party or parties in power. But that is not how democracies work, neither inside the walls of the central parliament or at regional and local levels. It is the role and duty of civil society organisations to carry out studies, hold debates, seek people’s opinions and express their positions on issues within their subject areas and fields of competence. Also, it is the role of the media, sometimes termed the ‘forth estate’, to be a mirror of opinions at any given time, indeed to keep check on offices and individuals in power. Sometimes, the support, sometimes they criticise the leaders.

All of the above groups must exercise their duties responsibly, but that doesn’t mean they should be toothless sycophants. In addition, they must not only give negative criticism, although that is normally what they do, and should do. They must also support political and administrative leaders when they make right decisions and set in motion positive processes. To do that may even be more difficult than to express negative criticism, because it must also include suggestions for further steps and new ways. Being responsible, experts, civil society, the media, individuals, and the employers and employees organisations will be listened to more and be engaged constructively.

Let me underline again, critique is a requirement for a democracy to function. But the forms must always be peaceful and constructive.

Pakistan is a young democracy, with many unfortunate periods of military rule since its independence in 1947. It is essential that we realize that Pakistan and Pakistani individuals, institutions and organisations are ‘apprentices in democracy’. We have not yet developed strong bodies for government and opposition, for civilized debates, for knowing how far to go in criticism and how to express constructive criticism – yes, and praise and support leaders when due.

You may ask: who am I to be so arrogant and didactic, thinking I, a mere foreign social scientist, has any right to advice Pakistanis? Well, I have a right to express my opinions, but not necessarily the right to elevate my opinions to advice. Yet, it is always useful to compare notes with other people and countries, indeed with countries that have had democratic institutions for a long time. Had the Sub-continent not had a colonial era, it is possible that the democratic experience would have been much longer and that it would have grown much deeper roots than it has hitherto. But Pakistan is en route now.

A bit of history from my home country: Norway became independent from Denmark in 1814, mainly due to Denmark being on the losing side in the Napoleonic Wars, having to cede land, notably Norway, to Sweden. The union with Sweden lasted till 1905. Norway had its own parliament from its independence from Denmark, yet, politics was for the upper classes and the state’s institutions were not particularly democratic. The right to vote depended on men’s education, wealth, and positions. Women obtained the right to vote only in 1913, when all men, too, above the age of 21, gained the right.

In the first hundred years of Norway’s independence from Denmark after four hundred years, more than a third of Norway’s population emigrated, mainly to USA, because the living conditions were unbearable at home, with little hope for a better future. Some also emigrated due to lack of religious freedom. Parallel to this drain of talent, skills and labour, the century was also a time of national and political awakening. In sum, it took time to get major benefits for ordinary people. Yet, the struggle was actually often supported by liberal intellectuals, writers and others, even by some fair-minded leaders in the otherwise conservative upper classes.

The second century of independence, from about 1900, can be split into two; the first half saw two devastating wars, but also development of radical political movements, notably the communist, socialist and social-democratic movements – and on the opposite side, Nazism and other movements. These were the formative years for development of real democracy in Norway (and the rest of Europe), and it was not always peaceful. Implementation of change took place in the two-three first decades after World War II, and then to be refined in the following some five decades.

Sadly, in certain ways, there is today stagnation in further positive developments. Thus, it is a time for consolidation of social achievements, safeguarding against regression; it is a time when the welfare state and all the equality achievements need to be defended.

In Norway, that struggle has not been too difficult till now, due to a strong economy thanks to high oil prices in an oil and gas producing and exporting country. Currently, though, with low prices in the petroleum sector, the economy is stagnating. Yet, that also means that the Norwegians are ‘waking up’ to an era when other sectors can be developed, or redeveloped, such as fisheries, forestry, knowledge industries, and more. Hopefully, with active debate, the right-wing ‘dissatisfaction and antisocial parties’ will be kept at bay; immigrants and refugees must be included, and others falling outside the good society must be assisted more than before.

In Belgium and France, yes, in all European countries, also in Scandinavia, where extremism and inequality are less than in many other countries, the way forward is to talk with those who need help and everyone else. That also goes for Pakistan. It means holding public debates and discussions all the time. We must search for ways to improve situations, formulate policies and implement concrete measures.

The road is easy enough, isn’t it?

This soft and humane road is based on the understanding that the harder, military-minded road doe not lead to the outcomes we all want.

True, we need rule of law and security systems. But we must not let them sound like they are the end-solutions. A better and more peaceful life for all can only be reached through steady and fair systems, yes, such that the Norwegians and the other Scandinavians have managed to develop so well, yet, not perfect. Many other countries have also done well, through struggle and hard work, often basing values on their religions, emphasising solidarity, sharing, and help carrying the burdens of others.

Allow me to mention it again today: When Pakistan and Pakistanis welcomed Afghan refugees these values were present in people and in government in the country, and in many countries helping Syrian and other refugees today. When Germany’s Angela Merkel sees refugees, I believe she sees the desperation in their eyes, and their hope for a better life in a new land, even if they are more economic migrants than refugees. I also believe she and so many other good people know in their hearts that politics is about doing the right thing so that all people can live well. The Quran teaches us that; the Bible, too.

It may take time to reach as good results as Scandinavia have. On the other hand, today, I believe we can reach good results much faster than they did – and that we must, in Europe, in Pakistan, and in the way the world is structurally ruled, sometimes deliberately creating conflicts, under-classes, and neighbour turning against neighbour, even when they have age-old traditions for peaceful coexistence and concern for each other.