By Dr Ramesh Kumar Vankwani
November 17, 2018
The International Day for Tolerance was observed on November 16 to raise awareness about the importance of tolerance for a peaceful society. In today’s globalised and interdependent world, all of us are aware that human societies are diverse. There are countless differences between people. However, the quality that allows us to accept that other people have the right to say and do as they please is known as tolerance. In simple words, tolerance doesn’t mean agreeing with other people. Instead, it involves with disagreeing with others in a respectful manner.
We must understand that when people are naturally diverse, differences of opinion are bound to exist. We have to respect their viewpoint because only tolerance can ensure the survival of humankind. Whenever we don’t tolerate others, a hostile situation is created.
History bears witness to the fact that such hostilities will always have a negative impact on everyone. The attack on Iraq by the US and the crisis in Syria are some examples of intolerance. It is believed that the main motive behind the world wars was an intolerant attitude towards opponents. It is historical fact that all those societies where the level of tolerance remained low have failed to survive. People in these societies could never enjoy peace.
In our society, Mashal Khan’s murder, attacks on minorities, and other horrific social crimes also reflect the rising degree of intolerance. However, transforming our beloved country into a tolerant one is my ultimate objective. On various platforms, I have stated that if we want to move Pakistan towards peace, we need to follow Quaid-e-Azam‘s vision by adopting tolerance in every sphere of life. Various ancient philosophers, including Aristotle, Socrates, Chanakya, Confucius and Plato, have also advocated tolerance.
Every religion urges its followers to adopt a tolerant lifestyle. In Hinduism, tolerance is believed to be the most powerful weapon to combat challenges. In Islam, exercising patience is accorded importance. Similarly, the teachings of Christianity, Judaism and Buddhism focus on promoting tolerance.
Meanwhile, the followers of intolerance gradually lose the ability to differentiate between good and evil. Such people only value those elements that support their viewpoints. A recent example can be seen in the reaction to the Supreme Court’s verdict in Aasia Bibi’s case. The chaos that ensued sent a negative message to the international community that Pakistan doesn’t respect rule of law.
During such tragic events, the Pakistani media should responsibly report incidents while giving top priority to the national interest. I am also leading a social campaign to promote tolerance and religious harmony in Pakistani society under the platform of the Tolerant Pakistan Media Network. The motive behind this initiative is to encourage journalists to promote mutual respect within Pakistani society and the rest of the world. I invite media organisations and educational institutes to join hands with us and deliver special lectures on tolerance.
The common characteristic of all successful people is that they have implemented tolerance in their lives. I have to face my political opponents on a daily basis on different talk shows and during my 16 years of parliamentary struggles, I was criticised on various occasions. But I have always treated my opponents with respect and accepted their criticism with a smile. A difference of opinion with others is natural. But it should be exercised within moral and cultural limits. My endurance has helped me maintain good relations with all stakeholders in society, even though I belong to a non-Muslim community.
We should also consider making lessons related to patience and endurance part of the school curriculum so that children are taught about the importance of tolerance, forgiveness, patience and endurance to lead a balanced life. To ensure a peaceful society, all of us must implement tolerance in our lives.
Dr Ramesh Kumar Vankwani is a member of the National Assembly and patron-in-chief of the Pakistan Hindu Council.