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Tolerance a must for peaceful coexistence: Austrian Envoy

ISLAMABAD, AUG 08 (DNA) – Tolerance and diversity imply being willing to accept the beliefs different than ours’, and recognizing that each individual is unique and possesses specific characteristics, respectively. Equality demands equal access to resources and absolute absence of indiscrimination. As per the fundamental values enshrined in the Austrian constitution, every citizen is equal before law.

These were the views expressed by Ambassador of Austria to Pakistan, Dr. Brigitta Blaha during the closing ceremony of Pakistan Center of Excellence’s (PACE) sixth round of collaborative workshops; a four day residential training program .

 

PACE is a major CVE initiative launched by the Center for Research and Security Studies (CRSS) – with the support from the government of Netherlands – to promote democratic values, respect for diversity, fundamental human rights and virtues of tolerance as a measure of ensuring social peace and harmony for peaceful co-existence.

 

It aims to facilitate a socio-political discourse – the Alternate Narrative on democratic rights and responsibilities anchored in the globally accepted and practiced concepts such as Rule of Law, Equal Citizenry, Secular Governance as a primary condition for social cohesion, and Tolerance for, and acceptance of cultural diversity.

 

Dr. Brigitta Blaha said that tolerance demands accepting a behavior, belief, ideas or opinions that are different from your own.

 

“Pluralism is a situation where people of different social classes, religion, race etc are together in the society but continue to have different traditions and interests, and still live peacefully.

 

Acceptance of diversity means recognizing that each individual is unique and possesses specific characteristics like race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, socio-economic status, age, religious beliefs, and physical abilities. Equality has many aspects; social equality indicates that all people in the society have same status in certain respects like civil rights, freedom of speech, property rights, equal access to goods and services.

 

It implies the absence of indiscrimination based on inalienable parts of persons’ identity and qualities that one cannot change like gender, race, age, origin, cast or class, income, language, religion, conviction, health or disabilities”, said the ambassador while sharing the European perceptive of dealing with the multicultural diversity, with the academics from different universities across Pakistan including Shaheed Benazir Bhutto University, Chitral, Balochistan University, Quetta, University of Malakand, Chakdara, Hazara University, Mansehra, University of Gomal, D. I. Khan, Univrsity of Poonch, Rawalakot, AJK, Pakistan Institute of Development Economics (PIDE), Islamabad, Kohat University of Science and Technology, Kohat, Swabi University, Swabi.

 

The resource persons and public intellectuals who interacted with the participating university lecturers and professors from different universities across Pakistan included Hooria Khan (spoke on equal citizenry from the perspective of women rights), Charles Petrie (spoke on expectations from UN/international organizations in Pakistan), Mr. Khurshid Nadeem spoke on multiculturalism and pluralism with reference of Islam, Dr. Zubair Ghouri (spoke on respect for diversity, Ms. Sara Farid  spoke on media & ethics), Dr. Khalid Zaheer spoke on religious intolerance in our society, Dr. Shoaib Suddle (spoke on the fundamentals of democracy, governance and accountability).

 

Imtiaz Gul Executive Director CRSS said that the idea of counter-radicalization initiative PACE was to reach out to the potential opinion multipliers and prompt them think critically through a discourse anchored in fundamental global values such as socio-political diversity, acceptance of diversity, rule of law and equal citizenry.

 

The discussion was moderated by the Executive Director of CRSS, Mr.  Imtiaz Gul.=DNA

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