Peace and Social Cohesion essential for combating social discord in Pakistan

Shezil Abbasi (Program Intern, SSDO)

Peace and social cohesion are the two forces that hold societies together. The United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals also aim towards making cities inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable. The 17-point agenda for Sustainable Development adopted by all United Nation Member States in 2015 is an urgent call for all the developed as well as the developing countries to ensure peace and prosperity of their nations. They are a blueprint to achieve a better and sustainable future for all. Peace and social cohesion are the fundamental predictors to achieve this goal. All around the world, it has been observed that cohesive societies are politically stable and have relatively better economic growth and business development.

Now what does social cohesion mean? Social cohesion can be characterized as how connected and united the members of society are. It refers to the situation when people work together and cooperate despite the existing differences. Battaini-Dragoni and Dominioni (2003, part of Council of Europe's Strategy for Social Cohesion) presented a paper at the conference on social cohesion held at the University of Hong Kong and described social cohesion as an indicator of a society that can ensure the well-being of its members who form a mutually supportive community of free individuals. Social cohesion is not gained within a day, rather it takes years to build.

The main factor in building social cohesion are the policies – policies that allow people in the society to share its prosperity. For a peaceful and fruitful society, it is the key determinant. It helps to create strong bonds across different groups and encourage trust in governmental institutions.

Pakistan is among the countries that have the least percentage of social cohesion and higher conflict. Moreover, several economic, political, and social factors have an impact on the cohesion of any country. The reason why Pakistan has the least social cohesion is that Pakistan is extremely biased in terms of class, ethnic, sectarian, and religious differences. In addition to that, lack of law and order and a weak judicial system play a vital role in this as well. These social indicators evaluate the attitude of authorities and extremist groups with respect to certain religious, class, and ethnic groups. The key indicators can be broken down as class differences, interfaith differences, religious conflicts, and cultural conflicts. Every day, we see a number of cases on social media sites and news channels that clearly depict why Pakistan has the least percentage of peace and social cohesion.

Dr. Qaisar Rashid in his OP-ED, “Ethno-sectarian conflict in Pakistan” highlighted the case of the Hazara community: on 10th Ja