President Dr Arif Alvi on Friday urged the West to be mindful about the sentiments of Muslims while pursuing the notion of freedom of expression so as to promote interfaith harmony. “Creation of hatred in the clothing of freedom of speech is something the West has to look upon to increase cooperation among Islam, Christianity, and all other religions,” he said in his virtual address at a conference titled ‘Promoting Interfaith Understanding ’. The conference was organized by Ambassador (Retd) Akbar S Ahmed holding the Ibn Khaldun Chair of Islamic Studies at American University, in Washington DC to promote an understanding of Islam and the Muslim world in the United States and encourage interfaith dialogue. President Alvi said as in Europe, it was a crime to talk about certain ethnic atrocities of the past, similarly the love of Muslims for their Prophet was of utmost significance. He mentioned that the act of making blasphemous caricatures in the name of freedom of expression was painful for Muslims, which the West needed to be careful about. President Alvi said throughout the history of humankind, a conflict between religions translated into bias, which resulted into policy-making on the basis of prejudices. As the humanity faced dangers such as global warming and pandemic, he said, it was important to encourage tolerance towards each other. “[As mankind] We need to adjust our way of living, rewrite the history which misguides us and also rewrite the future of cooperation and peace,” he said. The president said Pakistan was a land with its roots embedded in the history of several multi-faith civilizations, including Mohenjodara, Harappa, Mehrgadh and Buddhism. He mentioned that as the State was established, the founder of Pakistan Quaid-i-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah had declared full religious freedom for people going to their places of worship, may it mosques, temples, churches or synagogues. He said Pakistan was committed to continue protecting the rights of religious minorities in the country to promote interfaith harmony. President Alvi, however pointed out the dangerous precedent in India of marginalizing minorities through legislation including discrimination between Hindus and Muslims, thus leading to interfaith friction. He regretted that the world over, hatred was being encouraged to fulfill a particular political dialogue against other countries. The biggest misconception happening in the world is fake news, which needs to be countered, he added. Amid the flood of information at social media, he said, the new generation must be able to differentiate between truth and fake news. Dr Alvi stressed that to reduce tension and conflicts among communities, it was important to bring people together and stimulate their minds towards achieving the goals of interfaith harmony. He condemned using religion as a tool of terrorism and extremism to target other people. He lauded the effort of Ibn Khaldun Chair of Islamic Studies at the American University, expressing confidence that it would encourage positive discussions on various issues regarding interfaith understanding and religious harmony. Ambassador Akbar S. Ahmed, Dean School of International Service, Christine Chin and Assistant Director Kate Arion, and the faculty and students of American University joined the virtual session. Meanwhile, President Dr Arif Alvi Friday asked the universities to enhance the ratio of their online teaching content and develop partnerships with international universities for carrying out research projects. The president, in a briefing on the National University of Science and Technology (NUST), said the world’s future was linked with information technology and skills in the cyber field. Therefore, he said it was essential for the universities to give a special focus on the field of cyber security to help strengthen the country’s cyber defence. He said it was also vital to increase the number of IT graduates for the country’s development as well as fulfill market needs. Pro-Rector of NUST Air Vice Marshal Dr Rizwan Riaz briefed the president on the institution where, he said, over 18,000 students were studying at eight campuses. The university is offering multiple disciplines including engineering, IT, bio and social sciences, he added. The president lauded the role of the university management for imparting quality education to the people. President Dr Arif Alvi on Friday stressed the need for increased number of educated women so as to put the country on the fast-track of socio-economic development. He stated that the country needed more and more educated women to play their role in the national development. He added that steps were being taken for the financial empowerment of women by providing them business loans through the Kamyab Jawan Programme on easy terms and conditions enabling them to set up their own businesses. The president made these remarks while talking to a delegation of female students from the Langlands School and College, Chitral, led by its Principal, Miss Carey Schofield, here at Aiwan-e-Sadr. Talking to the delegation, the president said that the government was focusing on women education as well as their skill-development to ensure their financial inclusion. He lauded the contributions of the Langlands School and College in the field of education that had produced a number of educationists and professionals in the medical and engineering sectors.