We have been condemning violence, brutality and barbarism for last twenty years. Every segment of the society has a different opinion regarding violence and unrest in the region. But, still we are reluctant to talk about solutions. Peace would not prevail by condemning violence and updating our Facebook statuses. In addition, we must understand that the phenomenon of sectarian violence is not unique to Gilgit-Baltistan. Many developed countries had undergone sectarian violence but they were able to overcome the violence part albeit sectarian hatred still exists. Germany lost more than thirty thousand lives in 1930s as a result of clashes between Christians and Jews. Ireland has similar stories to tell. Even today, Protestants and Catholics go to different Churches in countries like UK and USA. Catholic parents are reluctant to send their children to protestants-managed schools. Mormons in US are struggling for their identity. What has steered their countries out of violence? I had given a whole laundry list of policies that policy-makers could pursue to get rid of scourge (http://theoeconline.org/a-solution-for-better-gilgit-baltistan-the-sustainable-and-long-term-peace-needs-public-policy-reforms/)
Peace in Gilgit-Baltistan is not a matter of virtue or any high moral principal, but of necessity and our survival. Let’s forget about the policymakers for a while and think what we can do for the process of restoring peace in our personal capacities before coming to the end with many regrets;
1- Policy Institute on Peace: No doubt the gales of sectarian tsunami have shaken our trust and confidence. But if we are sincere with our region, it is very much possible to rupture the culture of mistrust and violence. Of course, one person cannot do it. An establishment of a policy institute on peace would work on publishing and disseminating literature on peace and tolerance. It might arrange peace conferences, seminars and even design curriculum on peace for schools and colleges. An annual peace award for an individual and for an organization that worked for promoting peace might enhance the credibility of such an institute. Given that the team has motivation and sincerity, it could make Agha Rahat and Qazi Nisar to sit on the same stage for a constructive dialogue. The institute should consist of 10 young and educated professionals (trustees for institute) each from Shia and Sunni and 5 each from Ismaili and Noor-Bakshi sects. I anticipate a huge funding from national and international donors for such a sincere initiative. It must be non-profit and independent.
2- Practice and Preach Tolerance: A comprehensive, realistic and holistic assessment of our nature would tell us that religious extremism is a bitter reality. Acceptance of this reality would be the first step towards creating “tolerance”. Are Ismailis not fanatic? My personal experience tells me that I am as fanatic as my friends in other communities! What makes me to behave is the continuous preaching of tolerance by my spiritual leader and every one of us has a leadership capacity in one way or another. Let’s practice and preach tolerance. We have already seen several cases of brotherhood during these accidents; their frequent citation and publication might help creating tolerance. Instead of posting horror videos on Facebook, posting a Hadith about tolerance and quotations about tolerance by Kaliph-e-Rashideen would help soothe the situation.
3- Learn from Kashmiris: We are not advocating the rights of Gilgit-Baltistan; not even the civic rights. We are ‘too’ much patriotic Pakistanis. Our patriotism is taken as granted by Pakistan. Patriotism is good but not at the cost of our rights. The complexity of current governance package has further aggravated the situation in GB. Those who are being cited the reason for our ‘unconstitutional status’ are enjoying an independent state. Stability and peace is directly linked with good governance. I assure you demanding political and civic rights are very much Pro-Pakistan. Every son has the right to ask for his part from his father! A constitutional status means more economic opportunities, medical and engineering colleges, more development programs; our part in NFC award, royalty of Indus River, our own civil services and so on. Don’t you think that might help in maintaining and restoring peace? If yes, change your mindset, and dare to ask Pakistan for your rights.
Patron In Chief
Organization for Educational Change(OEC)