Speakers at a conference here on Thursday called for establishment of a cohesive society which works toward the wellbeing of all its segments to create a sense of inclusiveness and promote peace, unity and trust by fighting divisions, exclusion and marginalization. The event titled ‘National Cohesion through Unity in Diversity’ was organized by the Faculty of Social Sciences at the Air University, Islamabad. Vice Chancellor AVM (r) Faaiz Amir presided over the session. Prominent among those who attended and spoke on the occasion were Federal Minister for Inter-Provincial Coordination Fehmida Mirza, Punjab Minister for Women Development Ashifa Riaz Fatyana, MNA Dr Nafeesa Shah, MNA Roomina Khursheed Alam, MNA Dr Shazia Sobia, Shaza Fatima Khawaja, KP Education Adviser Ziaullah Bangash, vice chancellors of the National University of Science and Technology (NUST), Azad Jammu and Kashmir University, Balochistan University of Information Technology, Engineering and Management Sciences, Karakoram University, Allama Iqbal Open University Islamabad and Quaid-e-Azam University Islamabad. A large number of faculty members, intellectuals, academicians, civil society members and students were also present on the occasion. In their speeches, the speakers stressed the need for a social innovation in the country beset with multiplicity of social needs and problems arising out of a resurgent polarisation based on the political, racial and religious differences. They called for establishment of a diverse, socially cohesive society with a common national identity wherein opportunities are not determined by race or birthright, and where citizens accept their rights as well as responsibilities and is united, prosperous, non-racial and democratic. They maintained that currently the people are dismayed by frequent confrontations that occur in public spaces, some even leading to aggressive and untoward behaviour, and called for inspiring a movement of like-minded individuals and organisations to promote codes of ethical conduct at different levels of the society to achieve national unity. The intellectuals and academicians underscored the need for introducing an education system in the country which promotes civic consciousness, national unity and a better interfaith understanding. They reaffirmed their contributions to nation-building, in particular the promotion of interethnic integration in their institutions, and called upon the relevant quarters to include topics in curriculum that cover national cohesion and unity, multiculturalism and diversity, national identity and dimensions of culture and common values. On the occasion, the speakers called for promoting harmony, tolerance, brotherhood and equality, respect for humanity, non-violence, unity, reconciliation and a culture of dialogue in the society in order to counter extremism and terrorism and promote peace and stability. They said the Paigham-e-Pakistan initiative of the government was the best tool to deal with growing extremism and intolerance in the society and to encourage the youth towards positive and constructive approach. They urged the participants to fulfill their human and religious obligation of promoting peace, tolerance, brotherhood and unity and stressed the need for a concerted effort to disseminate the message of Paigham-e-Pakistan initiative among all segments of the society. Published in Daily Times, February 22nd 2019.