Panellists for breaking silence over ‘curtailed’ freedom of expression
Peshawar: Panellists at a dialogue session stressed the need for breaking silence over curtail on freedom of expression. They called upon the Ulema and religio-political parties to play their due role for developing coherence to end ongoing bloodshed of innocent people and restore sustainable peace.
The round-table dialogue titled, “Freedom of Expression, A Myth or Reality Challenges and Way Forward”, organised by Peace Education and Development (PEAD) Foundation, a non-governmental organisation (NGO) in collaboration with REAT working for minorities’ rights at Peshawar Press Club on Monday.
The panellists discussed the challenges faced by the people, particularly the media and minorities, in the country. While taking part in the dialogue, Minister Shaukat Yousufzai said that due to lack of coherence and tolerance for each other in society changed the existing scenario. Presently, he said, the situations for enjoying a right of freedom of expression either in writing or speaking was not favourable as we need tolerance in society, where this fundamental right could exercise.
“We have needed for interfaith harmony in the society, as there we have people of various religions in the country, where practice of one’s right of expression, was need of the hour,” he added. The Minister also said that the role of Ulema is immense important to promote social harmony in the society, but unfortunately, they are not delivering special sermons.
Shaukat also said that big fishes and powerful stakeholders were being involved in creating existing worsening situations across the country, that need to be curtail and create coherence among people from every walk of life. He also said that attacking polio campaigners was a set of mind that needs to be changed. ANP leader Babak said we do have freedom of speech, but those who cut the throats of innocent people are equally free to express.
He said the nation at the moment was living under extreme fear, uncertainty, as terrorists were practically paralysed the masses by targeting them mentally and physically. He also criticised the government and stakeholder for dual standard in taking against militants in reaction to terrorists’ attacks in Punjab and KP, adding if Punjab is Pakistan and Pakistan is Punjab, then ‘we must think the way Balochis are.
He focused on the need to unite and to have a political will to curb terrorism. Sardar Sorang Singh said that since the partition, minorities living in Swat region were quite in peace, as founder of the nation Quaid-e-Azam in his first speech made it clear that their would not be Muslim or non-Muslim rather only Pakistanis. While opening the dialogue Sameena Imtiaz, representative of PEAD Foundation, shared the situation analysis regarding freedom of expression in the country. “Though the religious minorities in the country are only less than 4 per cent of the population yet the majority fears them.”