Sunday February 25, 2024

Reintegration of militants into society debated

By Azaz Syed
March 28, 2017

ASWJ to cooperate with govt; JuD wants to get registered as political party

ISLAMABAD: Defunct Ahle Sunnat Wal Jama’at (ASWJ) finally announced to cooperate with the state in accordance with the Constitution however the Jamaat ud Dawa (JuD) said that they wanted to register as a political outfit but did not want to abandon jihad which is an obligation to every Muslim.

These announcements came in a closed door meeting of a working group on the topic of, ‘Rehabilitation and Reintegration of Different Brands of Militants,’ organised by Pakistan Institute for Peace Studies (PIPS), an Islamabad-based think tank, on countering extremism in the country where this correspondent was also invited as an observer.

The meeting of the working group comprised senior counter-terrorism experts unanimously demanded that Parliament should constitute a high-powered commission to review the policies that produced militants and to mainstream those willing to shun violence.

“We cooperated in the past and we announce that we want to cooperate with the state in light of the Constitution and we should not be punished rather we should be given space to bring ourselves in the mainstream,” said Maulana Muhammad Ahmed Ludhianvi, chief of ASWJ while addressing the session.

Hafiz Masood, the spokesman for JuD and the real brother of Hafiz Saeed, the chief JuD, said, “JUD is more than a relief organisation rather it’s a political organisation and we would love to register JuD as a political entity,”. However he added, “Jihad is an obligation to every Muslim and cannot be abandoned.” He also claimed that JuD and Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) were two separate organisations.

Members of the working group, understanding the diverse debates of what produced militant groups and how to move forward, called upon Parliament to constitute a high-powered national-level truth and reconciliation commission. This commission should address, among other things, how different brands of militant outfits could be mainstreamed, besides reviewing the policies that produced militancy in the first place. It was deliberated whether the commission might even accept the wrongs committed in the past. A wide-spread amnesty for all, without trial, was contested. No reintegration, rehabilitation and mainstreaming beyond the frameworks of the Constitution would be accepted, it was clarified.

The group also proposed constituting a platform of reviewing the criteria of banned outfits. The terms of reference of such a platform, such as commission, might be evolved by a parliamentary group, Parliament should also give statutory cover to such a platform. Members of this commission might include parliamentarians, social scientists, and other experts. The purpose of this commission, it was suggested, should be to review the basic ingredients of banned outfits. It was suggested that Nacta could serve as secretariat of this platform.

Moreover, the group also suggested that the outfits once banned should be monitored under a framework by a body within Nacta.  The group lamented there was no proper mechanism for monitoring banned outfits, due to which they changed names. One member also suggested that the existing anti-terror laws should be reviewed after every three years.

The group also discussed how to rehabilitate the radicals. It was suggested that de-radicalisation process/exercise should be institutionalised and wide-spread. Professionals should be engaged in the rehabilitation centers. 

The group discussed the difficulties of responding to the ideologies of the militants within the rehabilitation centers. Members of the working group included Tariq Khosa, former IG Punjab; Dr Khalid Masud, former chairperson, Council of Islamic Ideology; Tariq Pervaiz, founding head Nacta; Khurshid Nadeem, columnist and anchor; Lt Gen (R) Amjad Shoaib, defence analyst; Muhammad Asghar, Nacta; Muhammad Ziauddin, senior journalist; Afrasiab Khattak, former senator; Gen (R) Masood Aslam, defence analyst; Syed Arfeen Mehdi, journalist; Khalid Aziz, former secretary of KP; Brigadier (R) Fayyaz, political analyst; and Muhammad Amir Rana, director, PIPS. Members of banned outfits also presented their viewpoints.