Thursday, November 15, 2012

NATION NEEDS TO CULTIVATE TOLERANCE MORE THAN EVER


It’s time to learn to respect and recognise rights and beliefs of others

MAHTAB BASHIR
mahtabbashir@gmail.com
Islamabad

Someone has rightly said that if the foundation of a society is devoid of tolerance, then it is chaos that eventually ensues. The Pakistani society has been, in recent years, presenting a glaring example of such bellicosity, which has emanated from an intolerant social character.

This society is now undoubtedly yearning for peace - be it social peace, cultural peace, or psychological peace. Political dynamism, democratic etiquette, or human rights, whatever we intend to establish in society must be aimed at forming a tolerant society. We need to consider and analyse why we are an intolerant society, segmented into groups, each claiming his individual version of fundamental rights, but denying the same to others. It is a society where neither religious fanatics, nor the liberal fascist have any tolerance for each other. The former does not grant the right to women to dress in jeans, while the latter has no respect for those women who want to wear the veil or hijab.

Some of them, believing in righteously inflicted violence on “sinners”, remain silent on issues such as tribal customs of wani, denial of ancestral property to women, or the unacceptable practice of burying women alive on the orders of Panchayt that continue to exist in this so called Islamic Republic of Pakistan.

For a successful democracy the opposition must give enough time and find a cause worthy enough to struggle for dislodging an elected government. Tolerance is essential for smooth progress of democracy. With a society showing zero tolerance, Pakistan like other countries of the world is all set to observe The International Day for Tolerance today (16 November). The occasion is observed with the aim to educate people about the need for tolerance in society.

The International Day for Tolerance tends to remind people they should learn about respecting and recognising the rights and beliefs of others. International Day for Tolerance was started by UNESCO in 1996. The day is celebrated to urge all the heads of states and governments across the world to work for the welfare, freedom, progress of their people by encouraging tolerance, respect and dialogue. The day also underscores the need of coordination between different cultures and civilisations.

On this particular day, UNESCO has mentioned few guidelines, these guidelines includes the work and actions on human rights, diversity in community, religious tolerance, no to violence, creativity at work and ecological diversity.

Many educators use the theme of the day to help students in their studies and classroom lectures on topics like human rights and non-violence. Special training programmes, talks and conferences are organised on this day in offices where the supervisor briefs the employees about importance and need of tolerance.

A few educationists told this scribe on Tuesday that poverty, illiteracy and class difference (disparity) generates frustration among the masses that ignite intolerance among them. They said intolerance in our society has political dynamics and is quite visible within the political parties.

“The very essence of democracy, which is the right of dissent, is absent when it comes to the day to day working of these parties. Resorting to violence has become a common phenomenon to settle political differences, or as a show of power to establish their political hegemony,” said an educationist at Quaid-i-Azam University (QAU). He said we accept harassment of our religious minorities such as Ahmedis or Christians and have no remorse that the Father of Nation had assured them of their rights in his speech delivered of 11 August 1947.

Dr Abdul Siraj, chairperson of the department of Mass Communication at AIOU, said it was unfortunate that the word ‘tolerance’ is not as common in public usage as ‘intolerance’. “Everyone is intolerant and impatient because of low economic conditions and living standards. From elders to the young and even among students, the reflection of inflation ultimately produces intolerance and it is an angry youth that leaves a college or a university at the end of an academic year”, said Siraj, adding that the insecurity on the road, highhandedness of the law enforces was bound to induce intolerance among people that coupled with other socio-political factors culminate to terrorism.

Talking to this scribe, a rights activist questioned as why we have descended to such depths of criminal apathy that tragedies of different magnitudes, from individual’s to the nation’s, never invoke feelings of remorse or shame in us.

Published in Pakistan Today
http://www.pakistantoday.com.pk/2011/11/15/city/islamabad/nation-needs-to-cultivate-tolerance-more-than-ever/?printType=article

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