KARACHI - Highlighting the importance of corporate social responsibility, experts at a meeting on Monday called upon businessmen to play greater role in averting conflicts and bringing peace in local communities.The discussion took place at a consultative meeting titled ‘Peace through Profit: Peace-building through Corporate Social Responsibility in Pakistan,’ organised by the Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI) in partnership with International Alert here at a local hotel. The objective of the meeting was to discuss socio-economic issues contributing to conflicts and how various business practices and economic intervention can help in conflict resolution. Speaking at the occasion, Syed Faisal Sabzwari, Sindh Minister for Youth Affairs said, Pakistan’s massive charity and philanthropy system still lack proper structure and is without clear direction. “Although government does have a proper regulatory structure but it lags behind in proper implementation and effective governance,” he added. The minister also lamented the fact that national and international help for conflict prevention in Pakistan has only been confined to troubled northern region of the country, whereas other conflict-ridden areas, such as Karachi have largely been ignored. He urged to adopt need-based and community-driven conflict resolution measures.Dr Talat Wizarat from the Institute of Business Administration highlighted how modern business practices exploit resources and create conflicts by alienation of local communities. She said, businesses can only flourish in peaceful societies, and thus, it is in the interest of businesses to ensure peaceful communities in their areas. She also went on to narrate a horrific incident during Zia regime when weapons distributed by state to local businesses in Nooriabad, Karachi, lead to communal conflicts in the area.Tahir Jawaid, senior vice president of Engro Corporation talked of inclusive business practices and said the businesses need to be more accommodative to local communities to ensure peaceful communities with sustainable businesses.He said socially responsible businesses could play an important role in peace building in society. He advocated better regulatory framework to prevent businesses from exploitative practices that create conflicts in the community. He also shed light on relief and rehabilitation work carried out by his organisation after devastating floods of 2010.Safwan Aziz, a researcher at the SDPI moderated the proceedings and informed the participants that SDPI, in partnership with International Alert and Responsible Business Initiative, has engaged businesses through their CSR initiatives to mitigate local conflicts in the society. He also presented key findings of an earlier consultation held in Islamabad on exploring ways of engaging businesses with communities in conflict resolution activities.Senior representatives from civil society organisations including Shehri, The Citizens Foundation and Lyari Community Development Project also took part in the consultation. They were of the view that massive inequality and divide in communities were creating conflicts in the society.“This situation, keeping in view the weaker state response, requires businesses to come forward and play even greater role in social development in the country,” they added. They also called upon corporate sector to end exploitative business practices and stop unprecedented drive of consumerism in the society.