CHITRAL: Speakers at a seminar praised the state of social and sectarian integration prevailing in Chitral where over three dozen languages are spoken.
Held under the aegis of Idara-i-Taleem-o-Taraqi (IBT), a Swat-based organisation, scholars from Chitral, Swat and Gilgit-Baltistan read out papers on different aspects of the theme ‘Pluralism in Northern Pakistan’.
The scholars included Dr Inayatuallah Faizi, Prof Mumtaz Hussain, Prof Shamsun Nazar Fatimi, Syed Gul Kalash, Sher Azeem Bakhtawar and others.
In the context of Chitral, they said it presented a perfect picture of pluralism to the outside world where social cohesion existed among the different linguistic, ethnic, cultural and sectarian groups.
They said as many as 14 languages were spoken in Chitral which was a conglomeration of different cultural entities.
Citing the example of China, they said pluralism was at its best in the country, where 46 different religions had their followers and more than 100 racial entities existed but their sole aim was national development.
Describing the historical perspective of the state of pluralism, they said since the olden days the social fabric was maintained on such sound footing that no person dared depart from the defined societal path.
Said Gul, the first Kalash woman to have graduates from a university, said she was the beneficiary of pluralism as she was supported by a Muslim family in Chitral throughout her education career and was treated at a par with their own daughters.
She said Kalash were ethnically, religiously and culturally a small minority and their survival was the result of pluralism found in Chitral.
She, however, said tolerance was receding from the society both in the Kalash and Muslim communities for which concerted efforts were needed to inculcate positivism in the young generation.
IBT executive director, Zubair Torwali, said the organisation had an extensive programme to promote and foster pluralism in the communities living in the mountainous regions.
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