Thriving extremism in Pakistan

Impacts on society

The gruesome manifestation of ghastly extremism in thet Sialkot lynching incident has shocked and shattered every sane Pakistani. The brutal killing of Sri-Lankan National Priyantha Kumara Diyawadanage has shamed humanity and undoubtedly made a deadly scar on the face of Pakistan.

The brutal killing of a foreign national on alleged blasphemy is not first one but brings a horrifying remembrance of the killing of Mishal Khan and the burning alive of Shama and Shahzad Masih. The youth in Pakistan have become erratic and frustrated. The chanting of slogan with religious attributes makes them believe that they are doing right for the glorification of Islam and the finality of Hazrat Muhammad (PBUH).

Persecution in the name of religious is forbidden and against the teaching of Holy Prophet (PBUH). Pakistan is diverse in its ethno-socio and religio-political dimensions. There is a strong need to reconstruct the misplaced religious thought by disseminating the narrative countering radical extremist ideologies. This uphill task can be done by the intellectual and enlightened response to critical ideologies, and revival of moribund cultural and social values.

There are a number of factors that give forth fundamentalism in society, and there is a dire need to address the causes including economic disparity, illiteracy, religious dogmatism, unemployment, ineffective judicial system, bad Governance, ethnic and sectarian dichotomy, mass corruption and extremist narrative. NACTA needs to formulate short and long term strategies to combat the menace of extremism and radicalization that has led to militancy in society. Education and reorientation of people can change the trajectory of extremism towards enlightenment.

The environment of intolerance and violence has wrought havoc and will continue to mangle Pakistan, unless measures are not taken to cripple the terrorists with all their vitriolic ideologues.  Rehabilitation and reintegration of extremist elements can be done by creating environment, generating jobs, imparting vocational training, after care monitoring process, respectful involvement of parents and social reengineering of militants and terrorists.

The existence of law identifying the salient features of a rehabilitation programme give legitimacy and clarity to an otherwise makeshift desired outcome which requires the opposite or even both types of rehabilitation.  The establishment of a legal framework has become indispensable. The administrators of Pakistan’s programme must evaluate the factors contributing to radicalization and try to neutralize and prevent those factors and help in deprogramming the rehabilitees behaviorally and cognitively. It is really crucial to de-glamourize terrorists and foil the attraction that some terrorist groups seem to enjoy through projection of a valid and patent counter-narrative having a broad and all-embracing appeal.

It is important to de-legitimize the methods and goals practiced and proclaimed by fiery political and sectarian leaders, terrorist outfits, sympathizers and their supporters and debilitate the terrorists’ capacity of wooing others to follow their militant ways. De-radicalization of society should be bracketed with a wide perspective of national reconstruction as a vigorous counter-narrative is essential in routing militancy and extremism.

The monopoly of religious thoughts and dissemination in private hands is risky and fraught with numerous divisive pitfalls. This is what we see happening in Pakistan, led by the five Wifaqs— Religious Boards of five Sects— and the prevalence of religio-political parties. Based on the experiences of Turkey, Malaysia or Indonesia, Pakistan’s mainstream political parties, perhaps, can help initiate the inculcation of patience and toleration among their adherents for sectarian harmony. This, however, must not be misconstrued as a move to infringe on religious freedom. Everybody is, and must, remain free to practice faith and exercise the fundamental right of enjoying religious freedom. But that practice must not become an instrument of injustice, discrimination and intolerance. Through this endeavour of religious harmony and political pluralism, the menace of extremism can be eliminated and soft measures in the shape of deradicalization can be implemented.

The mosque is the place of congregation for prayers and a well-placed channel of mass communication for the Muslims, especially for the villagers. So, this sacrosanct institution can be used to disseminate the message of peace and reconciliation to de-radicalize and inculcate the diffusing dynamism of Islam which is inimical to violence, extremism and militancy.

Institutional reforms are paramount in importance. The refurbishment of the criminal 1ustice system has become ineluctable to get rid of the rising scale of militancy. The threat is both mundane and predictable in nature. With the robust judicial reforms, the sentence rate will be increased and justice will prevail to get peace and prosperity in state and society.

The Government methods and statistics to deal with extremism, radicalization and de-radicalization should be exposed to veteran researchers to adopt a holistic approach and develop mechanisms for effective de-radicalization. There is a dire need to cultivate respect for diversity and intentional inclusion to promote harmony in society.

There are a number of factors that give forth fundamentalism in society, and there is a dire need to address the causes including economic disparity, illiteracy, religious dogmatism, unemployment, ineffective judicial system, bad Governance, ethnic and sectarian dichotomy, mass corruption and extremist narrative. NACTA needs to formulate short and long term strategies to combat the menace of extremism and radicalization that has led to militancy in society. Education and reorientation of people can change the trajectory of extremism towards enlightenment.

Muhammad Rizwan Bhatti
Muhammad Rizwan Bhatti
The writer is a Ph.D Scholar, Deptt of Political Science, Govert College University Faisalabad and can be reached at [email protected]

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