ISLAMABAD: As many as 80 Vice Chancellors (VCs) of the universities showed solidarity with the armed forces and government of Pakistan for countering extremism and radicalisation in a grand muster organised by International Islamic University Islamabad (IIUI) on Monday.
Islamic Research Institute (IRI), in collaboration with the Higher Education Commission (HEC), organised a conference on “Role of Universities in Advancing National Narrative to Counter Violence, Extremism and Terrorism” at Faisal Mosque campus of the IIUI.
The joint declaration was announced in the concluding ceremony in which participants called for the inclusion of ethics, societal values and ethics of disagreement as a part of the curriculum. The participants maintained that sectarian hatred and imposing one’s ideology was a clear violation of Islamic system and it can’t be allowed as it was against the constitution of Pakistan.
It was also declared that Pakistan can never be used for the propagation of any kind of negative activities such as hatred, training of terrorists and other ulterior motives.
The joint declaration said that a subject of interfaith harmony, tolerance and peaceful coexistence will be introduced in all the schools. The VCs and ministers agreed that non-Muslims must be provided with full protection of life, and higher education institutions would discourage discriminatory attitudes in this regard.
The declaration also discussed that university community will ensure that no outlawed organisations be allowed to use their facilities, including online platforms, for promoting agendas of hate and extremism. It added that monitoring and counselling should become a regular activity in the universities.
The participants also recommended that directorate of students services should also be established in the universities.
The gathering was of the view that it was imperative to engage youth in useful academic and social activities that promote professionalism, ethical conduct and tolerance. The participants also said that the aspect of freedom of speech be observed and juristic and ideological discussions must be taken in educational institutions instead of inappropriate places, and ethics of disagreement shall be made part of the curriculum.
They agreed to remain united and committed to curbing hatred, extremism and violence.
Minister for Communication Hafiz Abdul Kareem said that education was the backbone for prosperity and progress. He added that Pakistan had played a pivotal role in the war against terror and the universities were the best sources to eradicate the menace of extremism.
Minister for Human Rights Mumtaz Ahmed Tarar called for discouraging violence saying that no religion in the world supported extremism and violence. He maintained that Islam is a staunch supporter of peace and prosperity and stressed that youth be put in the constructive activities to have positive results in the society.
Senator Mushahid Hussain Syed, in a session, called upon a cohesive and well-devised strategy and a counter-narrative against extremism, which he said was impossible to be implemented and established without bridging the gap between academia and Parliament. He added that the VCs and legislators together can serve way better to produce a counter-narrative and have the educational institutions empowered.
HEC Chairman Dr Mukhtar Ahmed said on the occasion that society is being poisoned by the negative elements with the seed of hatred and it is facing the challenges of intolerance and extremism. He added that lethal attempts of instability can be foiled through unity and by an active role of universities in the society.
He also stressed upon the universities to teach societal values and message of peace to the students. He also hailed armed forces saying that they have played a historical role in the eradication of extremism.
Dr Masoom Yasinzai said that extremism was the menace which had crippled the society and a counter-narrative to deal with it was a pre-requisite for progress and prosperity. He called upon the universities to take the responsibility to nurture youth and address the issues of the hour.
He also briefed the participants regarding the activities and efforts initiated by the IIUI to curb the problems of terrorism, violence and intolerance.
IIUI President Dr Ahmed Yousif Al-Draiweesh said that the university had organised around 400 conferences, seminars and dialogues about the eradication of extremism, violence and promotion of peaceful co-existence which were attended by scholars, academicians and intellectuals of Pakistan and abroad. He urged universities to make dissemination of peace their top priority.
He also apprised about the constituent units and faculties of the university.
Earlier, IRI Director-General Dr Ziaul Haq apprised the participants regarding the efforts of the institute for a counter-narrative. The conference was also attended by the IIUI vice presidents and other relevant officials.