Diversity: Peace & Development in Pakistan
Pakistani society is comprised of diverse ethnicities, cultures, languages, faiths, interpretations of faiths, and so on. Pakistani society is more diverse than it looks on TV channels or as portrayed in the textbooks of our education system. Usually, we read that there are four provinces and four languages i.e. Punjabi, Sindhi, Pashtu, and Balochi in Punjab, Sindh, KPK, and Baluchistan respectively. But the reality is different; there are several prominent and famous cultures and areas like Kashmir, South Punjab, Saraiki Belt, Gilgit & Baltistan Thar Desert, Kohistan, Chitral, and Tribal districts of Pakistan. All of these areas are have changing cultures, languages, castes, faith, etc. There are different religions and faiths including Christians, Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Parsis, Atheists, Bahá, Muslims and so many other faiths and sects of all these faiths.
Ignoring or suppressing such realities and dynamics sometimes creates unrest and violence. The citizens of my country, Pakistan, must learn how to accept, tolerate and celebrate the differences rather than reject each other. Therefore, we need a comprehensive plan to educate our children and citizens to support and promote harmony and peaceful coexistence.
It is therefore imperative to first realize and recognize the diverse cultures, languages, ethnicities, religions, faith, and/or different interpretations of our society. Then, we need to take steps at multiple levels for the transformation of these diversities into a strength by owning and respecting the differences within and among our communities. Multidimensional measures are required to transform the practices in religious, social & cultural festivals, education, and politics at multiple levels such as policy, strategy, planning and implementation, and so on.
Islamabad – The Capital of Pakistan
|Pakistani cultures of all provinces, Kashmir and Gilgit|
Diversity, on the one hand, can be challenging. And, on the other hand, diversity is very beneficial for a progressive society and development. As the world is now a global village and almost all major and big cities of the world are comprised of varied colors, castes, creeds, religions, and languages. As there are few employment opportunities in rural areas, these communities and groups usually migrate to the big cities like Lahore, Karachi, Peshawar, and Islamabad for better jobs and enterprises. In an urban area, it’s very difficult for people to understand the different opinions, languages, and psychology of diversified people. In such circumstances, conflict may arise around different matters which sometimes leads to violence.
Khyber Pukhtun Khawa- Pakistan Afghanistan border
Kalash- Indo-Aryan – Estimated 2000 years old civilization
Shangrila Hotel Baltistan, near China border (same place two different angles/views)
Other Tourist Areas:
Lake Saif ul Malook Mansehra
- For a society like ours in Pakistan, there is a greater need for peace and dialogue centers in different parts of the country to guide people. There is always a need for an open debate, discussion and dialogue—at the local, regional and national level—on conflicting issues related to the rights and obligations of different segments of our society. Dialogue and negotiations always lead to accommodation and compromise.
- Diversity is the beauty of our society. It can be utilized in the best interest of the country and its people. If we create awareness and educate our citizens about our different cultures, languages, ethnic groups, and minorities, we’ll create social cohesion and peace.
- Besides this, the role and responsibilities of minorities and majority groups in the overall development of the country must be elaborated and encouraged.
- Moreover, the contribution of all must be acknowledged and highlighted. Only then a peaceful co-existence and harmony can be created among all of our diverse groups.
- Developing and underdeveloped countries like ours are always in need of more education and awareness to strengthen our system.
- Peace is important for development and diversity is also needed for progress. A multi-cultural and multi-disciplinary team is always important for a progressive society.
- At least 3.5 million Pakistanis are working in foreign countries. They are a member of the international community, promoting our country while also earning an important income that also contributes to Pakistan. Similarly, millions of other nationality holders are working in Pakistan and living happily here. Sadly, diversity sometimes leads to violent conflict as in the case of religious extremism in some parts of the country.
Diversity is beautiful and we must eat the fruits of diversity and celebrate the opportunity to development of all segments of society together in Pakistan and beyond. Supporting positive peace among our diverse groups, castes and faiths will support progress for the entire society and country. We all can initiate social changes and develop leadership in all fields of life for a peaceful and progressive society. What I learned from the Rotary Peace Fellowship is to include peace studies in all kinds of training and education as a compulsory subject. Peace is important for development and development is important for peace.
Habib Ahmad – Pakistan
Rotary Peace Fellow – Class 31