"Parliament ought to address the extremism in Pakistan"
There is a need of realization upon the extremism that has crept in the society over the years, in all segments of the society. A great role is of parliamentarians, who can help and confront this issue by imparting a restart in overseeing policies, impacting internal peace, tightening rules and procedures of extremist-fighting bodies, and above all holding dialogues on the causes and solutions of extremism. The above recommendations were stated in a recent launch of the report on “National Strategy of Inclusive Pakistan”, by Pakistan Institute for Peace Studies (PIPS), an Islamabad-based think-tank.
This strategic report, aimed at countering extremism, was extracted from the findings of the ten national-level consultations organized by PIPS. The consultations based on 10 themes: approaching religious thought to annul extremism; reintegrating and rehabilitating militants, holding national dialogue and reviewing social contract; implementing National Action Plan; exploring link of extremism to constitution, citizenship and governance; engaging youth; approaching media, exploring cultural diversity and pluralistic voices; reforming education; and responding to internal security challenge. The report also noted that the pathway to regional security in Pakistan lies in diversity.
Once Russian Politician Mikhail Gorbachev well stated that Peace is not unity in similarity but unity in diversity, in the comparison and conciliation of differences; Likewise, Pakistan is a diverse country, with diverse group of people, opinions, cultures, religions in which escape from the diversity is unavoidable.
This report is a call to the Parliament, representative of diverse thoughts, to initiate debate on how to promote inclusivity and on what went wrong. Additionally, the authority can fix rules and operating procedures of the policies confronting militancy. The document also notes how militancy revolves around exclusion. Extremists not only attack non-Muslims, but also in major incidents the victims were Muslims too. This should be explored and addressed in national and international level.
In the report launch, all the stakeholders were invited including parliamentarians, journalists, academicians, cultural representatives, defense analysts and religious scholars.
Senator Raja Zafarul Haq, leader of the House in Senate, was the chair of the session, who vowed to bring a resolution in the Senate to constitute “committee of the whole” for combating extremism in the country. Senator/ Parliamentarian Farhatullah Babar; Fauzia Saeed, Executive Director – Lok Virsa, Dr. Jaffar Ahmed, Professor – Karachi University, founding head of NACTA, Tariq Parvez, Dr. Khalid Masud Former Chairman of Council of Islamic Ideology, Afrasiab Khattak, former senator; Ghazi Salahuddin, columnist, and Muhammad Ziauddin, senior journalist. were also there in the launch and marked their input on report.
The launch event focused on civil military relationship too; whereas Counter Violent Extremism (CVE) strategy was also discussed and it was suggested that it should be comprised of soft approaches, which considers measures that tackle extremism in the long run. As of now, most of the measures are reactive and knee-jerk. The speakers concluded that fighting militants on the ground is as important as neutralizing them without necessarily pick up fight, such as by reintegrating them after meeting certain conditions.
Earlier, introducing the report, PIPS’s director Muhammad Amir Rana, observed that Violent extremism in Pakistan is a multi-dimensional phenomenon, permeates across different segments. And because extremism has permeated in different sections of society, the antidote lies in treating counter-extremism as a cross-cutting issue, to be reflected in all policies and actions.