ISLAMABAD – An event on the theme of “Tolerance in Contemporary Times” was organized at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs today to observe the International Day of Tolerance. Foreign Minister Makhdoom Shah Mahmood Qureshi graced the occasion, which was attended by the Parliamentary Secretary for Foreign Affairs, Ms. Andleeb Abbas, as well as high-level representatives of the United Nations, members of the diplomatic community and senior government officials.
The Foreign Minister highlighted the importance of inclusion, peaceful co-existence and respect for different religious beliefs, values and cultures. He noted that the Pakistani society was inherently tolerant, being the product of millennia old civilization with a rich heritage. The Foreign Minister recalled that in its historic Kartarpur Corridor initiative, Pakistan had opened the largest and holiest Sikh shrines in Kartarpur to Sikhs from India and elsewhere. The Foreign Minister also called for addressing the growing trend of Islamophobia and intolerance world over.
The Parliamentary Secretary for Foreign Affairs reiterated Prime Minister Imran Khan’s call for universally outlawing willful provocation and incitement to hate and violence, and to designate an International Day to Combat Islamophobia. She regretted that the Hindutva inspired RSS-BJP regime in India had institutionalized Islamophobia as state policy. Its worst manifestation was the treatment being meted out to the people of Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu & Kashmir (IIOJK), who were being subjected to the most egregious human rights violations. The Parliamentary Secretary also called for promoting tolerance and mutual understanding among people of all faiths.
Renowned panelists including Dr. Qibla Ayaz, Bishop Humphrey Sarfaraz Peters, Mr. Kishan Sharma and Mr. Taranjeet Singh – representing the Muslim, Christian, Hindu, and Sikh communities in Pakistan – echoed the message of inter-faith harmony. They emphasized that the minorities of Pakistan enjoyed equal rights as citizens of the country and actively participated in all walks of life.
Video Messages from Professor of Psychiatry Dr. Mowadat Rana, Baroness Sayeeda Warsi, and Islamic scholar and anthropologist Akbar S. Ahmed were played at the event. The participants were also provided with an overview of Pakistan’s efforts and activities at the UN and other multilateral fora for combating intolerance and promoting inter-faith and cultural harmony.
The International Day for Tolerance is celebrated each year on 16 November, to promote respect, acceptance and appreciation of the rich diversity of world’s cultures, forms of expression and ways of being human.