LAHORE - Culture can help promote peace, social cohesion and empower underprivileged segments of society and there was a dire need of understanding each other, said the speakers at a seminar entitled “Dialogue on Culture and Peace Building” organised by Punjab University Directorate of External Linkages and the British Council at Environmental Law Auditorium on Tuesday.

PU VC Dr Mujahid Kamran, Chair British Council Sir Vernon Ellis and Country Director Peter Upton, Director Iqbal Academy Muhammad Suheyl Umar, renowned architect, planner and educationist Prof Sajida Vandal, Dean Faculty of Behavioral and Social Sciences Prof Dr Zakria Zakar, Director External Linkages Maria Maldonado and Dr Naumana Amjad were among the distinguished participants while senior faculty members and a large number of students were also present on the occasion.

Addressing the ceremony, Dr Mujahid Kamran said that Muslims were facing problems because they did not understand the importance of knowledge and strength of character. He said that around 750 verses of Holy Quran stressed to focus on resolving the mysteries of the universe while the verses related to legislation were around 225, which reflected that how much important the knowledge was before Allah.  “Knowledge is the source of power and respect but no nation can become knowledgeable without the strength of character”, he said, adding that there was no compulsion in matters of religion according to the Holy Book. He said that an Australian Jewish scientist Gideon Polya had written in his book “Body Count” that there had been 1.3 billion avoidable deaths during the period 1950-2005 of which 600 million were Muslims.

Chair British Council Sir Venon Ellis said that this was the age of transnational cooperation and there should be freedom of movement and trade. Stressing the need of globalization, he said that we needed more trust to build better relations with each other.  He said that Pakistan had a huge potential of youth and their skills must be utilized for country’s development and under Active Citizen Project, they were engaging young talent and also using social media as British Council’s purpose was to interact. He said that culture could also be a barrier to economic development of the society as if there was no input of women, the society could not prosper.

Suheyl Omer said that our public life needed whatever wisdom we could find, whether religious or secular and the Scriptures and the wisdom traditions of man were a rich source of such wisdom. He said that our religious and secular world needed frameworks, patterns, settlements and institutions within which this and other wisdoms (both religious and secular) can be put forward, learned, taught, explained, discussed, disputed, deliberated about and have practical effects in public life.

Sajida Vandal gave a detailed presentation on various cultural and development programs for safeguarding cultural assets, economic and social empowerment. She said that there was a need of capacity building of women.