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May 19, 2017

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Youth being exploited due to poor governance, injustice: COAS

Youth being exploited due to poor governance, injustice: COAS

Says causes behind terrorism must be addressed; enemies pursuing divisive tendencies in society; hate has been mainstreamed in India

ISLAMABAD: Emphasising the need for addressing the causes behind terrorism, Chief of the Army Staff (COAS) General Qamar Javed Bajwa on Thursday said the Pakistani youth was getting exploited due to poor governance and lack of justice in the society.

The army chief said the Pakistan Army, with the support of the nation, has defeated extremism and terrorism. He said India seems to have given into extremism to such an extent that it has become the new normal. 

“Hate has been mainstreamed in India and it is distorting their national outlook,” General Bajwa said while addressing the ISPR seminar on 'Role of Youth in Rejecting Extremism'.

He said the Hindutva extremism of the RSS and their GaoRakshaks, deprivation of Palestinians, the burning and desecration of mosques or gurdwaras in Western capitals, the rise of hyper nationalists and the monster of racism, are all manifestations of extremism.

The seminar was also addressed by DG ISPR Major General Asif Ghafoor, Chairman Higher Education Commission (HEC) Dr Mukhtar Ahmad, eminent speakers like Professor Ahmed Rafiq Akhtar, Dr Shoaib Suddle, Dr Farrukh Saleem, Ghazi Salahuddin and others. It was also attended by vice chancellors of universities from public and private sectors, journalists, students and army officials.

He said the enemies, both state and non-state, are actively pursuing divisive tendencies in society and they that they are waging the biggest and most sustained hybrid war against the Pakistani nation from multiple directions and using multiple ways.

“We are being targeted by not only terrorists but also spin masters of multiple hostile agencies, trying to subvert our minds, particularly that of our youth,” he said. The COAS said that being denied opportunities in the mainstream media, they are using faceless platforms on the internet and smartphones. He pointed out that the terrorists were being helped actively in their cause by some countries. In this connection, he referred to designs of the Indian leadership which has made no secret of its active involvement in proxy struggle in erstwhile East Pakistan and now in Balochistan; nor are the assertions of some other leaders any more secret.

The COAS regretted that the term 'extremism' is often unjustly applied to devout sections of Muslim societies, alienating them in the process and the Western definitions of countering violent extremism are mostly confined to what they call 'Islamic extremism'.

“It is unfair and dangerous. Unfair, because of its inherent and totally wrong association of extremism with Islam. Dangerous, because it focuses too much attention on Muslim societies and masks the rise of extremism in multiple societies across the world,” he said.

General Bajwa pointed out that just next door, India seems to have given in to extremism to such an extent that it has become the new normal. He said hate has been mainstreamed in India and it is distorting their national outlook. The army chief said that despite incessant propaganda, the fact is that as a nation, Pakistan has rejected terrorism. “That speaks of the robustness of our social and religious values and I have no doubt that we equally reject extremism in all its manifestations,” General Bajwa maintained.

The COAS observed the first-ever PSL cricket final at Lahore and celebration of 23rd March with three foreign contingents has shown that our spirit is unbreakable and no one can isolate the Pakistani nation. He said the Pakistani youth are taking part in political discourse in unprecedented numbers and are active in the social arena as well and they are winning accolades for academic achievements abroad.

“Whether it is the record of youngest achievers, maximum number of straight As or a global technology competition, our youth stand out and make us all proud,” he said.

Observing that more than 50 percent population of the country comprises young people below 25, he said the youth remains vulnerable to extremism.

“We are standing at crossroads; 10-year down the line, we will either be enjoying the fruits of a youth dividend or suffering at the hands of a youth bulge, especially with the youth which remains vulnerable to extremism,” he said.

General Bajwa said the nation particularly the youth needed to have a clear concept of extremism. “We will only have a clear concept of extremism if we have a clear concept of our own identity and values. A youth driven towards extremism is a youth without a clear idea of his values and identity,” he said.

He observed that extremism is also related to the environment and the present time and from that view it must be admitted that Pakistani youth is getting exploited due to poor governance and lack of justice in the society. “The whole Muslim world seems to be on fire. The country seems threatened from multiple directions. It just does not seem fair,” he said.

He said the challenges are very real but there are positive sides to the picture as well. “Not only have we survived the worst onslaught of terrorism in modern history, we have reversed the tide. In fact, security has now achieved conditions to help development take off,” he said. He maintained that Pakistan is the best army in the world which with the support of Pakistani nation defeated extremism and terrorism.

General Bajwa said it would not have been possible without people’s support. “Each one of you was on our back. I want to appreciate every segment of the society, especially our law enforcement agencies (LEAs) and the media, for their consistent support in helping us cutting these monsters to their size,” he said.

The COAS said that today the Pakistani people are at the most critical phase of war against terror. “As we transit gradually from major operations against terrorism to more intricate, targeted operations against residual threat, under the ambit of operation Raddul Fasaad, we must also find ways to ensure that the causes behind terrorism are addressed and the National Action Plan is actualised,” he said.

Earlier, in his address, the DG ISPR Major General Asif Ghafoor highlighted the need to eliminate extremism from the society. “The requirement becomes more pronounced when we see that the nature and character of this conflict has also changed with ideology of ISIS which focuses on targeting minds of our youth,” he said. He said it was a collective duty as state and individual duty in everyone’s respective domain to shield the youth against this threat. “The process involves identification of threat and response measures,” he said.

He said it was known fact that “we owe achievements in ongoing operations to the youth and of all the sacrifices made by uniformed Pakistanis, 90 percent contributions are by young soldiers and officers”.

“Let us not allow their supreme sacrifice to go waste and convert our achievements into an enduring success,” he added. The DG ISPR said the Operation Raddul Fasaad was aimed at consolidating gains of all military operations earlier concluded in kinetic domain and bringing about an enduring peace and stability. 

Speaking on the occasion, Shoaib Suddle said direct economic cost due to extremism-related terrorist incidents since 2003 had been colossal, which was estimated at over $120 billion. He said Pakistan's extremism-related fault-lines included terrorism, sectarianism, regionalism, sub-nationalism and ethnic militancy, adding that the triggers for extremism were provided internally as well as externally.

 

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