launched Inclusive Media Forum (IMF) Punjab on 4th May 2017 in Lahore
Journalists for Democracy and Human Rights (JDHR) launched “Inclusive Media Forum (IMF) Punjab on 4th May 2017 in Lahore wherein the members of IMF pledged to work together to uphold human values such as tolerance, respect, and mutual understanding among the followers of all faiths in Pakistan.
The members of the Punjab Assembly Ms. Saadia Sohail and Waheed Gul also participated in the event and highlighted the importance of tolerance, understanding, and imparting education to end religious discrimination that damages the social fabric of society. They called for strengthening peace, forging unity, and ensuring the protection of minority rights to achieve the goals of socio-political stability and interfaith harmony.
The IMF members were of the view that minorities are an important part of Pakistani society. They are playing an effective role in all walks of life. However, the members recognised that there is a need to pay attention on how media represent minority groups in its discourses. The members highlighted that there is a little space available for minority issues. The members said that commonly stereotypic concepts are being generated in Pakistani media about minorities. Therefore, we need to work together for building a positive image of minorities. Moreover, it is important to increase the space in media discourses for objective and responsible reporting on minority issues, which will impact on public attitudes towards minority communities to be more tolerant and supportive.
The IMF members did acknowledge that there are reports of violations of the rights of minorities in the country, there has been growing realization among cross sections of society that protection of the rights of minorities is significant for national stability and peace. All forms of hate speech may lead towards intolerance, negative emotions and radicalization so we need to avoid any speech that attacks a person or any community based on their attributes such as religion, origin, sect or gender as we cannot achieve sustainable development and progress without peace and harmony in the country.
IMF members suggested that all religious groups should spread the message of peace and interfaith harmony. The IMF members appreciated the JDHR efforts for providing this platform where members hailing from different faiths and sects are working together for fostering peaceful inclusive society that reinforces a sense of shared human values.
The members noted that tolerance is decreasing at various levels within Pakistani society as hate material is being spread around us- be it in religious publications and the textbooks or spread through hate and discriminatory speeches. The members said that people of Pakistan have strong cultural roots, which bind them together to live in peace. The members called for reforms in Pakistan’s education system, especially in textbooks and curriculum to end hate content that fans religious and sectarian violence, intolerance and ideological polarization. The member said that interfaith dialogue and harmony are only possible if equality, respect and acceptance for each other are ensured. The members suggested that there is a need to dispel misperceptions about the followers of other religions/sects by enhancing interaction and dialogue among religious communities. The IMF members called for change in social behaviours towards religious minorities and building alternative narratives to curb violence and hate in the society.