Provincial visions presented to promote national peace

Islamabad, March 04, 2015: “Dialogue is the key to building and promoting peace. We must learn to speak to each other. Most importantly, we must learn to listen and respect differences of opinion. Whatever we disagree on, let us at least agree that we don’t use violence, but that we deal with differences through dialogue and understanding”. This was stated by the Danish Ambassador Mr. Jesper Moller Sorensen during his speech at the National Peace Summit, which was held today in Islamabad.

The National Peace Summit, which was organized by Search for Common Ground (SFCG) Pakistan with support from Danish International Development Agency (DANIDA) brought diverse groups and communities together from across all provinces. The aim was to find a collective vision of peace with a particular focus on enabling provinces and their communities to engage constructively around conflict issues in the post-18th Amendment Framework.

Speaking as the Chief Guest, Ambassador Mr. Jesper Moller Sorensen acknowledged the important work of peace builders who work their way through the most difficult levels within their community by adopting an open, interactive and solution-oriented approach for dialogue. “By seeing and teaching the common ground between one’s own group and another group of people, we can build empathy and tolerance. This is the kind of thinking that leads towards depolarizing, building bridges and eventually peace”, said Ambassador Sorensen.

Ms. Sherry Rehman, Vice President PPP and Former Pakistan Ambassador to USA participated as Guest of Honor. She highlighted that the main building block of peace is provision and existence of security. She encouraged creating and promoting public conversation as inclusive citizenship was at heart of a democratic society. She appreciated the Pakistan Peace Initiative as it represented the democratic model in which public engagement has developed solutions for peace, which includes all provincial perspectives. She encouraged the public to petition their Government and parliamentarians, as the public voice was the cornerstone of any democratic society “Pakistan has become a polarized society where tolerance and respect for diversity is much needed”, she said.

Around 150 participants representing diverse groups such as media, youth, minorities, women, religious leaders, politicians, traders, civil society and government officials sat together and discussed topics related to peace, conflict and public governance in view of the 18th amendment. Participants spoke openly on issues such as devolution of power, social justice, local and provincial level conflicts and how peace can be maintained viewing Pakistan’s constitution as a tool for conflict transformation while engaging communities for grassroots action for peace building.

Addressing the audience, Mr. Khurram Masood, Executive Director SFCG Pakistan said that SFCG believes that at the macro level, demand for public dialogue can be generated leading to increased constructive voices of citizens including youth, women and media in particular. He said that SFCG hopes that generation of platforms and healthy dialogue will enable Pakistani population to take an active part in motivating the masses for causing shifts in perspectives and approaches for collaborative actions. “SFCG places a premium on Pakistan’s growing youth bulge, women leaders, dynamic media and private sector entrepreneurs to become the change agents that Pakistan needs”, said Mr. Masood.

During the Summit, recommendations of the provincial perspectives of Peace were presented in the light of 18th constitutional amendment retrieved from a series of provincial level consultative dialogues held in Lahore, Peshawar, Quetta and Karachi between May 2014 up-to February 2015. The final outcome and recommendations of all provincial dialogues and the National Summit will be disseminated and shared with Government of Pakistan compiled into a policy paper “Pakistan Vision of Peace”.

At the end of the Summit, awards were given to two inspiring youth peace activists for their efforts to promote peace in their communities. The awards were given to Mr. Nooroz Ghani from Liyari and Mr. Farooq Afridi from Khyber Agency, FATA.

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