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Friday Oct 13 2017

Way forward for Pakistan sans war discussed in London

LONDON: Dozens of prominent Pakistani figures “who reject the idea of permanent war with neighbouring countries” and do not accept what liberal Pakistanis consider an extremist orientation came together for the conference titled 'Pakistan- the way forward’.

The conference was the second such organised under the banner of South Asians Against Terrorism and for Human Rights (SAATH). It was hosted by columnist Dr Mohammad Taqi and former ambassador of Pakistan to the United States, Husain Haqqani.

"Liberal, progressive, nationalist and secular visions of the country need to be reinstated in Pakistan's political arena if the country is to overcome the current local and international threats," Haqqani, one of the hosts, told Geo News. "We must change the narrative that only religious extremists or intolerant bigots represent Pakistani patriotism. Pakistan belongs to various schools of thought, various ideologies and diverse opinions that’s its real beauty."

He maintained Pakistan faced critical challenges and needed a 360-degree change in policies — rather than gimmicks — and an alternative suggesting the way forward.

Besides Haqqani and Taqi prominent participants included Rashed Rehman, Abbas Nasir, Senator Latif Afridi, Arif Jamal, Marvi Sirmed, Beena Sarwar, Atif Tauqeer, Farhat Taj and several leading journalists.

Last year, the conference was marred by opinions of hard-line nationalists and supporters of Muttahida Qaumi Movement-London’s leader Altaf Hussain. However, this time, the agenda and list of participants was more mainstream, organisers said.

They added that the conference was themed with the purpose of creating a network of Pakistanis in the country and abroad who reject the idea of permanent war with neighbouring countries.

While sharing their opinions, some experts said the conference should also explore and highlight issues of human rights and extremism in other parts of South Asia as the forum’s primary focus is the entire South Asian region.