As they keep evolving, so should our awareness
Radicalisation is the modulation of human thinking. In modern day world, where high integrated facility exists for connecting people, radicalisation becomes an easy way to channel and influence people’s thinking to achieve personal, specific and general objectives. It’s important to discuss available tools of radicalisation so effective policy making can occur. These can be categorised in three main areas: innovation, tutoring and system-gap. The Innovation Based Tools (IBTs) include latest communication and technology gadgets.
The internet is a major tool for sharing talks, videos and discussions which can easily influence human thinking and push an individual towards radicalisation. Since it is more or less an ungoverned and unprotected space therefore people can easily venture into it, leaving considerable impact on thought mechanism. While utilising internet one’s generally isolated from environs and psychologically enters an electronic medium where words, sentences, sermons, lectures and debates gain leverage over his or her natural thinking process. The countries where modernity has not been synergised with development face radicalisation via electronics. Here, electronic facility users are neither properly educated nor accustomed to complexities. Thus they believe whatever is in video or audio messages. Since they’re inherently incompatible with the intricacies of cyber space therefore they are the major victim of e-radicalisation pitfalls.
According to one estimate there are approximately 30 million social media users in Pakistan. Many banned organisations and their followers use e-medium not only to propagate their views but also to radicalise countless people connected with internet including those who use it for a limited time or for entertainment.
The net cafes in Punjab pose a real threat for on line radicalisation process. The uneducated youth spend a lot of time there for web surfing and chatting. The exact number of such cafes is still unknown at sub-national level. Net Café Regulations Act (Punjab Cyber and Gaming Café Regulations Act) 2012 was passed to monitor these facilities which could not be properly implemented and executed for field operations. These are the e-radicalisation incubators which are impacting the minds of millions of youth and preparing them for future radicalised actions. The android phones and internet facility on these devices can become another threat for an uneducated society which is highly polarised in sectarian thinking and gives considerable weight to orthodoxy and conventionalism. Recently, the number of cases of religious acrimony based on electronic messaging has been observed in Punjab and this trend will continue to rise in future as well. It will pose a real challenge for Law Enforcement Agencies (LEAs) including Police Force in coming years because the latter will have to deal with an e-action which triggers serious law & order situations on streets, roads and main tributaries in different districts of the province.
The second area is known as Tutoring based Tools (TBTs) to radicalise people for terror objectives. In Punjab, religious sermons and addresses are one of the main sources of extremism. Among the two important origins for understanding Islamic culture and meanings are religious books and prayer leaders or religious scholars. Many religious figures first impact their audiences through their sermons by use of special titles and terms. They impress them with their verbosity, fire branding to channelise the thinking process of their followers. The tender minds readily accept these imprints and follow them religiously without raising voices and asking questions. The last stage is reached when selective inclusiveness leads towards clear cult development of particular sectarian leanings. This is the stage when the listener converts the meanings of such sermons into a group sharing belief. Many sectarian organisations in Pakistan have been using this methodology to propagate their views and radicalise millions of people through direct interaction, video messaging and electronic interactive sessions. The National Action Plan (NAP) has been focused on Deobandis and majority of the mosques and prayer leaders penalised under NAP belongs to the same sect. As the Deobandis are pushed back, the religious space is going to be filled by Barelvis and Ahl e Tashis who will be fertilising their opinions among the masses. Ideally speaking this vacuum should have been occupied by a strict monitoring regime having complete wherewithal to point out extreme religious speeches and sermons.
In 2015, four well educated young men were arrested by Counter Terrorism Department (CTD) Sindh in connection with Safoora carnage and other terror related activities. They used modern gadgetries for communication and brainwashed rich people through videos and sermons.
The third area is System Based Tools (SBTs) highlighting system-gaps existing in majority of third world or developing countries. This system-gap is usually filled by different Non Governmental Organisations (NGOs), Defunct Organisations and other welfare bodies which operate on their own agenda and objectives. These entities take advantage of existing system’s non functionality to establish an elaborate structure of public welfare, slowly impacting people’s minds to bring about a change in collective psyche and mind set. In 2005, Jamat Ud Dawa launched an impressive relief work for earthquake hit areas in Azad Kashmir indicating their organisational reach and effective networking in far flung villages of the region.
Innovation by such parties should be responded to with counter moves and lectures and sermons should be closely monitored to pinpoint radicalised opinions and beliefs. Policy makers must focus on these areas and govern them properly to decrease radicalisation. Moreover, the government should try to reduce the system-gap which provides opportunity for free operation in state controlled jurisdiction.