“Constitutionalism is a prerequisite for democracy; by understanding and implementing it we can move forward towards a Pakistan, where everyone has equal rights and respect for all the religions, cultures, ethnicities and genders”. These remarks were made by the Vice Chancellor (VC) of Kohat University of Science and Technology (KUST) Professor Dr. Jamil Ahmed at the opening ceremony of PACE Collaborative Workshops and Debates on April 26-27, 2019, for university students. The workshop was conducted under the umbrella of the Pakistan Center of Excellence (PACE), a counter-radicalization, pluralistic values focused project, by the Center for Research and Security Studies (CRSS). The participants included young students from Kohat University of Science and Technology, Kohat and FATA University, FR Kohat.
The VC expressed his immense gratitude over conducting the PACE Collaborative Workshop on their campus. He continued his speech by saying that “it was very important to elaborate on equal citizenry and rule of law; these are the core values which promote the ideals of respect for diversity, rights and opinions. These tenets help minimize the threat of conflict and stimulate the spirit of peace-building”.
Dr. Jamil said that only through adherence to constitutionalism, the principles of fundamental human rights can be understood and that can help us rationalizing the debate about good governance, accountability and peaceful coexistence. For that matter, the first ever tool that can be used is critical thinking and questioning what is supposed not to be questioned. The grey areas are always there to be explained, as there is no black and white.
He further said that the hope for a Pakistan where equal rights are ensured for all is still alive. We can achieve this goal by seeding for a mass that is equipped with the tools of critical thinking and therefore can contribute to a peaceful and a non-violent Pakistan. He expanded on the importance of the process of peacebuilding saying that it is a process of creating trust among various groups of society. It is a process of strengthening a society’s capacity to manage conflicts in a non-conflicting way. “It is a lengthy process which aims at changing the attitudes and behaviours of the people”, the Vice Chancellor added.
Moreover, the VC was of the view that he really appreciated the idea of discussing rule of law, as many people believe in talking about their rights only. He said that rules exist to enable humans to interact with one another on equal basis without discrimination. The application of rules starts at individual level, ultimately leading to a law abiding society. The Constitution of Pakistan states that all the citizens are equal, and as Pakistanis we all need to go through this document so that we can understand the importance of basic rights for all. We have to own this document and start applying the ideals mentioned in it for greater benefit of the society and state. Rules are supposed to be followed whether we like it or not. From this point, I urge the youth of Pakistan to understand the importance of rule of law and equality and start application of these rules in their daily lives.
He explained that a successful state is where all the citizens can interact with one another without any fear of being judged for their beliefs. As citizens of Pakistan, we should acknowledge the importance of equal citizenry for all and regard it.
He concluded by appreciating the role CRSS and PACE were playing for creating a culture of acceptance and respect for all. These kind of workshops were critical to cascade the message of equality, diversity and tolerance. He also acknowledged the role of youth in multiplication of the PACE’s message.