Pakistan Institute for Conflict and Security Studies (PICSS) organized a Roundtable on January 22, 2019. Topic of the session was “Countering violent extremism through civic approaches” while the guest speakers included Dr. Qibla Ayaz Chairman Council of Islamic Ideology and Dr. Musarat Amin Assistant Professor from Fatima Jinnah Woman University (FJWU). The session was attended by diplomats, academia, retired military personals and representatives from the civil society.
Dr. Musarat Amin
Dr. Musarat Amin in her presentation highlighted the role of education in countering violent extremism. She was of the view that initiatives like Pegham-e-Pakistan are highly impactful, yet people
Dr. Musarat briefly explained that counter-radicalization basically seeks to undermine the individual’s resolve through counter-narratives, rebuttals, education, positive examples and
Dr. Musarat also pointed out that in case of Pakistan a desire for change and to overthrow the existing governments proved out to be the major reasons despite poverty and lack of education for an individual to become a religious extremist. She briefly explained Pakistan’s initiatives of counter radicalization and de-radicalization. Counter Radicalization initiatives include madrassa Reforms, National International Security Policy 2014, National Action Plan 2014, Counter Terrorism Operations, Pakistan Protection Act 2014. De-Radicalization programs include Swat Program and the Punjab Program. Dr. Musarat emphasized that a National Counter-radicalization Policy is the need of the time and should be formulated by the Government on an immediate basis. Community Engagement and Community Resilience, Counter-Narratives against extremism, Faith-Based Networks and Moderate Religious Scholars and Annual CVE Summits and Symposiums are some of her policy recommendations to counter and effectively address the issue of violent extremism.
Dr. Qibla Ayaz:
The second speaker of the session was Chairman Council of Islamic Ideology Dr. Qibla Ayaz. He initially highlighted the failures of Pakistan that policy makers have not been successful in changing the curriculum and adopt a unilateral curriculum nation-wide. He said that hard power is undoubtedly important yet peace is important and to achieve peace, civic approaches need to be explored which includes soft power approaches. He highlighted the significance of Paigham-e-Pakistan and indicated that it has been signed by all the denominations of Pakistani society. These denominations include heads of religious seminaries, head of some groups of extremism organizations and Mufti’s of Central Asian states. Around 5000 scholars have uptill now signed Paigham-e-Pakistan and violent circles have been on defensive lines with regards to this initiative. He critically highlighted that the entire world is against us and has been constant in depriving us of our basic rights while unfortunately we have been our own enemies as working together has never been on the agenda for Pakistan. He said that no programs of tolerance, acceptance, mutuality on print and electronic media are covered while subsequently none of the dramas on-aired on television highlight the real issues of the society.
Dr. Qibla highlighted that traditional sports like Kabaddi and
A Q&A session was initiated in which Dr. Musarat Amin said that Extremist elements are attracting people because they are very clear in their message while on the other hand the Government is not clear about its approaches to counter extremism. She emphasized on the fact that we donot promote an agenda of peace and harmony. Why don’t we promote Sufism? Why sports and poetry competitions are not held most often? Dr Qibla Ayaz said that it is a question as how to persuade people to love their country and work for its prosperity. Representative of Belgium embassy asked a question from both speakers that what does Pakistan expects from the Europeans and what changes and policy measures are needed to reform NACTA. In response to the question Dr. Qibla Ayaz linked violent extremism to the war in Afghanistan and highlighted the fact that the stay of west in Afghanistan is not only pro-longing this war, but is also the major reason of violent extremism in Pakistan as well.
Dr. Musarat while responding to the issue of NACTA highlighted that Structural changes are mandatory and until and unless there are reforms and changes in NACTA civil institutions are unlikely to play a constructive role in this regard. Abdullah Khan MD
Maj General (R) Muhammad Saad Khattak
Chairman PICSS Maj General (R) Muhammad Saad Khattak in his remarks said that the world still remains on what terrorism actually is and what terrorists are and thus countering the agenda of violent extremism extremely difficult to be managed. He highlighted the fact that it is not poverty which is making the society radicalized rather ideological harmony is the major issue and this issue is not been even highlighted in the United Nations. He critically mentioned the situation of Iraq, Libya and Kabul in the fight against terrorism. There are a lot of capacity issues in the civil institutions while the de-radicalization programs are only managed by the military. The issues which should be addressed on a long-term basis are addressed on a very temporary basis and we have been always in a fire-fighting mode. While responding to the query of what west can do in this regard, General Saad said that the west should leave people to peace and if they want to help, help them in areas in which they are strong and provide your assistance in growing them. Practical application and implementation of policies is the major issue in Pakistan’s civil institutions which needs to be addressed swiftly. The session was concluded on the consensus of the policy argument that initiatives like Paigham-e-Pakistan should be propagated and advertised properly and educate people about it. Secondly, educational institutes are the hubs of change and thus CVE initiatives should be included in the curriculum.