China-Pakistan Study Center (CPSC) at the Institute of Strategic Studies Islamabad (ISSI) hosted a Roundtable with Dr. Haiyun Ma, Associate Professor of History at the Frostburg State University, Maryland at its premises today. The agenda for the session was to discuss Islamic-Chinese cultural dialogue in contemporary times. Dr. Nadeem Omer Tarar, Executive Director at the Center for Culture and Development, Islamabad also spoke on the occasion. Experts from academia, think tanks and media were also in attendance.
Dr. Talat Shabbir, Director CPSC, welcomed the speakers and participants. He highlighted the need to bridge the cultural gap between Pakistan and China through intellectual discussions and generation of new ideas.
Dr. Haiyun Ma, spoke about the history of Pakistan from a global perspective. He said that when one talks about Pakistan-China relations, it is important to talk about Islam from the perspective of both the countries. In reference to Islamophobia, he said that unfortunately there is this notion that fundamentalist elements exist in Pakistan which smear the country’s image in China. Dr. Haiyun Ma suggested that cultural communication needs to be strengthened in order to eliminate misconceptions and bridge people-to-people contact between Pakistan and China.
Speaking at the occasion, Dr. Tarar said that intercultural dialogue is the only way to eliminate misconceptions. He added that religion has an important role in shaping human societies and so cannot be eliminated. He highlighted the deep historical affinities between Islamic and Chinese societies. He said that China and the Islamic world have over 1400 years of cultural contact, starting from around the 7th century. He noted that it was high time that Pakistan focused on building and promoting its culture and think of it as a strategic asset.
Earlier, during his welcome remarks, Ambassador Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhry, Director General ISSI, said that the people in Pakistan are deeply attached to Islam and Islamic values. The people-to-people contacts between Pakistan and China are only just beginning to open up and it is important to work upon them, he said. He added that there are ample opportunities to bring together Pakistan and China outside of the economic and security realms and these must be pursued with perseverance and diligence.
In his concluding comments, Ambassador Khalid Mahmood, Chairman BOG, ISSI, stated that Islam is a living religion in China. He said that dialogue is very important in bringing understanding and harmony between people hailing from different civilizations. This will also help to bridge the knowledge gap in cultural fields, he said. The remarks were followed by an interactive discussion.