ISLAMABAD: The counter-terrorism authorities have arrested over 15,000 hate preachers as part of a crucial exercise to swiftly execute the National Action Plan (NAP), a move federal government claimed to ‘de-radicalise the society’ for maintaining constant peace in the country.
Law enforcement agencies rounded up 15,259 clerics, religious teachers and prayer leaders under charges of ‘delivering hate speeches and possessing hate/anti state material’ following the newly formed laws to cope with terrorism and extremism under the NAP, revealed official progress report obtained by Geo News (ASKKS Programme)/The News, showing progress made by the federal government under the NAP in past eighteen months.
Tens of thousands of arrests were made on the basis of intelligence reports gathered by counterterrorism department and special branch of provinces as well as by the operators of intelligence bureau in thousands of combing operations being conducted across the country. “We want to get rid of extremism—de-redicalise the society. It’s only way to wage a successful war against terrorism and extremism,” said Religious Affairs Minister Sardar Yousaf.
“Come what may, actions against all extremists under NAP will go on,” he declared while talking to Geo News/The News when specifically asked: “Is this the only solution to de-radicalise the society' in a detailed sitting.”
More than 14,869 cases were filed against hate preachers, clerics, religious teachers, prayer leaders and dozens of religious scholars, official data exclusively obtained by Geo News/The News further revealed.
The counterterrorism forces arrested 11, 169 clerics/hate mongers who were later sent to courts for facing terrorism charges in 10, 648 cases in Punjab—a province claimed to find its security forces active in swiftly executing the NAP.
The police and Counter Terrorism Department (CTD) forces arrested 2, 845 clerics in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa in last one and half year. Later over 2,693 cases were filed against these accused religious leaders who are now facing multiple charges under newly formed to deal with extremists and hate mongers in the province which witnessed 70 percent drop-down in terror attacks during this period.
Sindh police got managed to file 1,133 cases against 775 hate mongers who were spreading extremism in society through their speeches and lectures in mosques and madrassahs during this period. Official documents suggested that Balochistan province showed lethargic response when it comes to handling extremists involved indelivering hate speeches and possessing hate materials in the province. Around 108 cases were registered while 100 clerics were arrested by the law enforcement agencies in the province.
The Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT) police arrested 32 clerics that belonged to different schools of thought since the NAP started. Later 119 cases were registered against these hate mongers in the federal capital.
The government of Gilgit-Baltistan filed 33 cases against 40 clerics/religious teachers who were violating loud speaker laws in the area. Majority of arrested clerics are said to be having affiliation with Sunni and Shia community over there. The law enforcement agencies also filed 126 cases against 200 religious school teachers and prayer leaders in Azad Jammu and Kashmir.
Official data further revealed that around 6,000 cases were registered against shopkeepers who were selling either hate materials or anti state materials. Over 3,200 cases were registered against owners of shopkeepers in K-P, 1085 in Punjab, 13 in G-B and 66 cases were filed against those who hold hater materials in AJK. Over 1,200 books and hundreds of other instruments linkage to extremism were confiscated by the police in Balochistan.
Under new NAP laws, the ICT and provinces have got geo-tagged over 62,600 mosques across the country. Islamabad and Punjab have completed mapping exercise of all madrassahs while mapping exercise of Sindh (80%), K-P (75%), Balochistan (60%) and Fata (85%) is going on and will be completed by end of this year. The law enforcing agencies have also completed geo-tagging of 2, 926 minority worship places across the country.
“Arrests of religious teachers/clerics continued. We have taken up this issue with high ups—but thousands of arrests go on as usual,” said Abdul Qadoos Mohammadi, the spokesperson for Wafaq-ul-Madaris Pakistan. Many other issues like registration of seminaries and opening of accounts remain another sticking point, he added.
Former NACTA Chief Hamid Ali Khan says, "It's a long and complicated battle. Arresting hundreds or thousands of clerics is not the solution. Of several by products of terrorism that has affected most the Pakistan society is extremism that is presently the existential threat to the state. Extremism needs holistic and comprehensive approach. The entire society and state have to fight together. It means creating tolerant society, interfaith harmony, compassion and humanity .It involves defeating mindset, ideologies network and financing of extremist groups and winning hearts and minds of people. Its way forward is to bring Madrissas reforms, modernise curriculum, education reforms and constructive role of media and civil society in particular by playing key role for constant peace."
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