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While most social scientists are convinced that for a society to be peaceful it must neither have a conflict among its different segments or classes nor any segment should be in conflict with the state, it is unfortunate that both of these desirable traits are absent in the Pakistani society. First, certain segments of Pakistan’s society are in direct armed conflict and clash with the state. Secondly, growing ideological polarization and perceptual differences in sociocultural domain negatively impact the processes of social change in the country. Existence of problematic group histories across sectarian, ethno-linguistic, and political divides further undermines the prospects for peace and peaceful coexistence.

Nevertheless, the growing ideological and perceptual differences have evolved two particularly distinct classes in Pakistan, the so-called liberals and traditionalists–which are also referred to by many as secular and religious classes, respectively–who are in perpetual conflict and are developing a disliking for each other’s cultures and ideologies.

In this changing sociocultural context, there is evidence to suggest that an increasing trend of use of violence has gradually dominated the discourse of argument or dialogue in Pakistan. PIPS learned through its two years exercise of rigorous debate (2011-12) between religious scholars and other segments of society that extended and sustained dialogue and interaction among different segments of society was direly needed to promote harmony and peace in Pakistani society. A consensus view that emerged in these debates was that dialogue and logic, and not force, were the only ways to create consensus and shared understanding on critical issues challenging peace and harmony in Pakistan, and also to convince people about one’s viewpoint.

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