Academia-Media Collaboration for Tolerance By Dr Ramesh Kumar Vankwani

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Academia-Media Collaboration for Tolerance
By Dr Ramesh Kumar Vankwani

 

The huge response I am receiving on my previous column “Tolerant Pakistan” is beyond my expectations. All peace-loving segments of the society are supporting my view point that peace and prosperity could not be achieved without ensuring a tolerant society based on equal rights and social justice. For moving Pakistan towards a bright future, we need to make Quaid-e-Azam ‘s 11th August speech our national vision.

Media and Academia have a pivotal role in any democratic setup, and due to this, I decided to take lead to bring them closer on the occasion of launching ceremony of “Tolerant Pakistan Media Network” which I founded to strengthen collective efforts to promote tolerance in our society. Let me once again clear that tolerance does not mean agreeing with other people but disagreeing with them in a respectful manner.

Unfortunately, extreme rise in intolerance could be observed in our society. The recent horrific murder of Mashal Khan at a higher education institute in Mardan shows that violence and extremism based negative ideologies are increasing influence throughout the country. This is highly regrettable that people are taking law in their hands to kill other fellow beings just because of differences in opinions. This unwanted situation will lead our beloved country nowhere but disaster.

Although, media rejects the allegations of promoting intolerance and claims to reflect the society just like a mirror, it is true that whatever is published in newspaper, or shown on television screen leaves a strong impact on people’s minds. I think, the viewpoint of media is correct in some extent that if media doesn’t show the ongoing injustice with the poor deprived people, how their voice could be echoed in the power corridors? However, this practice is not only very painful for sensitive peace loving citizens but also damaging the country’s image internationally. Here, I would like to mention that the intolerance and extremism that we are facing in our society is not a new phenomenon. In the past, same has been faced by Western countries. European countries had fight horrific wars with each other. The entry of Blacks were banned in the US restaurants and public places. The black politics was on its extreme in South Africa. But very soon these countries realized that hate based policies will never deliver positive results and it is in their best interest to build a tolerant society. Today, we can observe that European Union, consisting of 28 member states, is a role model for promoting tolerance and world peace. US citizens are selecting black president. South Africa has become a bright example of black-white social harmony.

Pakistan is an Islamic republic where majority of people used to follow the religious teachings. There is no two opinion about that all religions urged their followers to bring peace and prosperity in their societies. The Charter of Medina is a golden example in this regard but still it is not understandable that why Pakistani society is being labelled as one of the intolerant and extremist societies. I think, peace loving citizens must come forward to show true face of Pakistan by promoting tolerance, humanity and positive values in the society. I know, this is not a easy task and collective efforts are required. Keeping this in view, people from different walks of life were invited in the launching ceremony of “Tolerant Pakistan Media Network”. People having diverse backgrounds are shown in the logo with joined hands with a purpose to work together for the betterment of Pakistan.

The Federal Minister for Religious Affairs & Interfaith Harmony Sardar Mohammad Yousaf was very kind enough to grace the occasion as Chief Guest.  While assuring full support, he said that ensuring equal rights to all citizens is one of the top priorities of the current government. The presence of different diplomats including EU, Russia, Belgium, Mauritius, and Azerbaijan ambassadors shows their commitment to share their experiences how they succeed to build tolerant societies in their respective countries. The EU Ambassador Jean -Francois Cautain, in his special address, highlighted the long difficult journey by European countries to build a tolerant society. According to him, any kind of discrimination is strictly forbidden in EU. Quality education, humanity and social justice are key factors of tolerant European society. He also emphasized the need of journalist trainings and exchange programs , which according to him, could deliver positive results to build a tolerant society.

The participants agreed that a society in which the tolerance level of people is low could never survive at all, could never live a long life, and could never enjoy the joys and beauties of peace and prosperity. On the occasion, a media expert Sabah uddin Qazi was also nominated as the focal person for the Tolerant Pakistan Media Network.

The role of Chairman HEC Dr Mukhtar was remarkable to make the ceremony successful. Besides his participation as key speaker, he also ensured the active participation of different university vice chancellors. He truly said that intolerance is not limited to Pakistan but it is in fact a negative ideology which needs global attention to be curbed. He termed the generation gap one of the key reasons behind intolerance in our society. On the occasion, this is decided in principle that a series of events in different universities will be organized on the platform of Tolerant Pakistan Media Network with the collaboration of HEC. Lok Virsa chief Dr Fouzia Saeed was of the view that our folk art and tales are based on humanity, tolerance and positive values and we should promote our culture with positivity.

A good number of media community, including Bureau Chief of Daily Jang, Hafiz Tahir Khalil, TV anchors Matiullah Jan, Ali Haider, Faisal Shakeel, Rehman Azhar and Ayman Khokhar also participated during open discussion to share their views. The media community was urged to raise awareness about a tolerant society free from prejudice for everyone. It was decided to open membership of Tolerant Pakistan Media Network to TV anchors, reporters, cameramen, photojournalists, cartoonists, and affiliated with any Pakistani media outlet or foreign media based in Pakistan including newspaper, television channel, FM radio or even online news portal / blog with only one requirement to at least one time in a month they will raise awareness on the issue of tolerance through their writings, TV reporting and blogs.

I believe that God helps those who help themselves, and our selfless efforts for “Tolerant Pakistan” will have positive impact in the near future.

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The writer is a member of National Assembly and patron-in-chief of Pakistan Hindu Council. Twitter: @RVankwani

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