Monday November 28, 2022

‘Pakistan hit hardest by instability in Afghanistan and rise of extremism’

March 16, 2017

Radicalisation is a process which is not confined to any geographical sphere not is it bound by any religious or other belief.

This was stated by Dr Bettina Robotka, research associate at Humbolt University, Berlin, Germany, on Wednesday.

She was speaking at the first session on the second day of a two-day conference, titled ‘Countering Radicalisation and Terrorism in Europe, the Middle East and South Asia in the Wake of International Migration – Moving Towards Harmony’ The conference was organised by the Area Study Centre for Europe, University of Karachi, in collaboration with the Hanns Seidel Foundation, Islamabad, at a hotel.

Dr Robotka raised the questions about the causes of radicalisation in human societies across the globe. She talked about the phenomenon and concept of radicalisation in a historical perspective.

The first session was chaired by a former cabinet secretary to the government of Pakistan, Dr Masuma Hasan. 

Another speaker, Dr Arshi Saleem Hashmi, of the National Defence University, Islamabad, talked about the fallout of radicalisation in Pakistan.   She said religious radicalisation was a global phenomenon, but Pakistan was the worst-affected country facing the fallout of instability in Afghanistan and rise of violent extremism.

She said radicalisation posed a serious threat to the idea of a modern, progressive and developed Pakistan.

Another speaker, Air Commodore (retd) Khalid Iqbal talked about the politicisation of terrorism in South Asia and its impact on counterterrorism. He said terrorism and political violence were not new to South Asia.

“The state level counterterrorism efforts in South Asia are circumscribed by limited state capacity and overlapping geopolitical tensions, which undermine the prospects for regional cooperation to counter terrorism effectively.”

Dr Muhammad Shoaib Pervez, professor and chairman of Department of Political Science, University of Management and Technology, Lahore, discussed radicalism in Pakistan vis-à-vis the role of US policies as an external factor.

He said radicalism in Pakistan was the direct offshoot of a global paradigm which carried the hegemonic agenda of powerful states.

“The presumed agenda of a global order on constructed narratives of oppositional identities of hegemonic powers sowed the seeds of Asian radicalism in general and of its Pakistani variant in particular. The radicalism in Pakistan was the collateral damage of the hegemonic identity discursively constructed and superimposed in the Asian region by the USA.”

The second session of the conference, which dealt with the theme of ‘Bridging the gap’, was chaired by Javed Jabbar. 

Professor Adnan Sarwar Khan, dean, Faculty of Social Sciences, University of Peshawar, focused on accelerating dialogues among different segments of societies in Europe, Middle East and South Asia.  Neha Ansari, a PhD candidate at Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, US, discussed the US drone programme and its impact on radicalisation in Pakistan. She said that the main argument against the drone programme was that it was a key recruitment tool for terrorists, as vulnerable communities and individuals were an easy prey for terrorist groups to radicalise, while separately many individuals ended up choosing the path to self-radicalisation.

She proposed a multipronged deradicalisation strategy -- including changes in the rules of engagement, ensuring transparency and legitimacy, facilitating rehabilitation and reconstruction - that could result in meaningful rehabilitation.

Nikhat Sattar, adviser at the Indus Resource Centre, Karachi, talked about the role of academia in influencing policies. She also mentioned that the world post-9/11 was a world of anger, with deep schisms, intolerance and extremist views leading to severe political, social and economic crises.

“It is more globally integrated than ever; yet, it is also more divided than ever. Terrorism is often used synonymously with Islam and countries in the West are increasingly adopting policies of restriction on religious expression, many targeting Muslims.”

Dr Markus Heidingsfelder, assistant professor of the School of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences, Habib University, talked about the local and international media in countering radicalisation.

Discussing the mass media, he said that Trump hated media while media loved Trump because controversies generated audience. 

Dr Heidingsfelder also mentioned that the large-scale violence and rising number of casualties in any violent incident or natural calamity were unfortunately the reasons that went in favour of media.

Summing up the proceedings of the conference, former senator and federal minister Javed Jabbar appreciated the efforts of the ASCE in organising the conference on the pertinent subject. 

Talking about refugees and migration, he mentioned that there was a need to point out the issue to the wealthy Arab and Gulf states that had closed their borders for refugees.