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Religious extremism among Sindh’s youth likely to grow, warns study

By Our Correspondent
February 03, 2022

With radicalisation growing among youths, the country’s problem of religious extremism is likely to worsen in future unless the state adopts a gradual and subtle policy shift toward the separation of religion and politics.

It was one of the key findings of the recently released research report titled “How Youth in Sindh View State, Society, Religion, and Politics”, released by the Pak Institute for Peace Studies (PIPS), an Islamabad-based security think tank, on Tuesday.

The report is based on a three-fold assessment: workshops providing the youth of Sindh with an open forum to share their views and observations, and pre- and post-event surveys. At the outset, the report underlines that Sindh, the second largest province of Pakistan, has been seeing an upsurge in incidents of violence against religious, sectarian and ethnic minorities since the beginning of the 21st century.

The province, which has the largest Hindu population of the country, is also grappling with issues like forced conversions of Hindu girls and vandalisation of Hindu temples, according to the study report.

Given the multiplicity of challenges faced by the youth of Sindh, PIPS conducted two-day workshops in three cities of the province, one each in Karachi, Sukkur and Hyderabad. The participants of these workshops were male and female young students from both rural and urban areas of the province.

The report includes a detailed overview of the themes covered by the speakers during the workshops, the problems identified through discussions between young participants and experts, and an analysis of the results obtained from surveys.

The key themes covered by workshops included interfaith dialogue and communication, conscious and rationale approach, socioeconomic and intellectual deprivation, social contract theory and citizenship, and freedom of expression and media.

Prof Dr Syed Jaffer Ahmed, director of the Institute of Historical and Social Research in Karachi; Maulana M. Ahmed Yousaf Binori, a prominent religious scholar; Jami Chandio, executive director of the Centre for Peace and Civil Society (CPCS) Jami Chandio, senior journalists Sohail Sangi and Wusatullah Khan, and PIPS director Muhammad Amir Rana were among the of speakers during these training sessions.

The report concludes with recommendations on how to improve the role of the youth in fostering peaceful coexistence in Sindh. It urges the government to undertake a thorough assessment of the social and political costs of faith-based nationalism.

The report also emphasises a massive need to upgrade the education system and suggests that the curricula must be sensitive about the portrayal of minorities and the assessment should not be based on rote-learning but should encourage critical and rational thinking.

Given the poor handling of interfaith issues in the education system of Pakistan, civil rights organisations must take action to fill the gap, organising workshops and training at campuses on the subject across the country, it recommends.