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Belgium -an example of coexistance for Pakistan

April 17, 2013

FARHAN ZAHEER

Is Pakistan alone on the face earth that is facing sectarian violence in today’s world? Can we expect that Pakistan will overcome it in coming years?

With big population, widespread poverty and various non-state actors, Pakistan may take many years to fight this menace but it is not impossible to take this challenge head-on, as we have an example of Belgium that resolved this problem successfully.

Belgium is a small but ethnically diversified country in the heart of Europe has French, German and Dutch speaking population. It took over four centuries to learn the lesson of peaceful coexistence.

With just 11 million people and 26 times smaller area than Pakistan, comparing Belgium with Pakistan would not be an appropriate idea but this small nation has many things to offer.

Last week, Belgium’s Deputy Head of mission came to speak at Area Study Centre for Europe, University of Karachi.

During his presentation, he commented that his country had triumph over not only on sectarian conflicts between Catholics and Protestants of 16th and 17th centuries but also on recent ethnic issues and language issues.

“Until recently, we had ethnic and language issues but we decided to listen each other,” said Mund, in plain words without using bureaucratic language. “Difference of opinion does not mean that you kill each other. We learnt that only dialogue can resolve issues.”

Belgium was not the only country in Europe that had sectarian violence, there were many others, too. But this country had also tried to find out solutions of ethnic and language problems in last few decades. Belgium was the battleground of Europe for centuries because as it had no natural protection from its big neighboring countries. For centuries, armies of almost every big power of Europe had fought on its land for resources and power.

It was a small country but it always relied on smooth trade with its neighbours – a fact why it kept growing economically. Today, it is among the top 10 trading nations of the world with most of the trade with its neighbouring countries.

Here is another lesson for Pakistan to learn from Belgium, whatever differences you have with you neighbours, never fight with your neighbours. Today, all the growing economies are focusing on regional trade and trying to increase their trade with neighbours as it is cost effective and easy. If you want to grow economically, you should always keep your lines of trade open with your neighbours.

There are no two opinions that Europe took centuries to overcome sectarian violence but at least it systematically tried to achieve peace. Whatever bloody history Western Europe has, the fact of the matter is that Western Europe has not seen any war in last 6 decades – the time when it decided to end wars and violence in Europe after World War II.

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From → By Farhan Zaheer

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