“De-Radicalization in Pakistan: Options and Choices”
August 12, 2011
Pakistan is facing numerous challenges, including terrorist attacks on civilian and military installations, drone strikes, suicide bombings, corruption, political instability, fragile economic condition, target killing, deteriorating law and order situation, extremism and rising radicalisation in our society. Our armed forces and intelligence agencies are fighting against terrorism and extremism. Pakistan needs collective effort and shared response from Pakistani media, civilian institutions, political parties and security forces to combat terrorism, radicalism and extremism.
This article aims to highlight the various underlying issues related to terrorism, radicalization, de-radicalization and extremism in Pakistan. Pakistani society as a whole is not extremist or radicalized. There are few people or groups who are promoting extremist views in Pakistan. It is necessary for us to understand their narrative and come up with a comprehensive strategy to overcome the problem of radicalization or extremism in Pakistan.
There is an urgent need of comprehensive national counterterrorism policy in Pakistan. In order to understand this issue we must have an understanding of the terms “radicalization and De-radicalization”.
Radicalisation according to Concise Oxford English Dictionary “(1) relating to or affecting the fundamental nature of something; ... (3) advocating thorough or complete political or social reform; politically extreme.” The relevant noun definition is “(1) an advocate of radical political or social reform”.
According to another definition of the term radical clarify that the term is closely associated with the idea of “extremism”. The modern concept of radicalization would thus appear to support a form of relativist thinking about socio-political events and actors related to the problem of terrorism. To be radical is to be extreme relative to something that is defined or accepted as normative, traditional, or valued as the status quo. The relative notion is important in the present context because it indicates that agreement on what is to be defined as radical may be subject to “perspective effects.” That is, what one group may regard as radical forms of thought or behavior may not be seen as radical by the purveyors of those forms of thought and behavior.
According to a definition by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Denmark: “Radicalisation is the phenomenon of people embracing opinions, views and ideas that could lead to acts of terrorism". Another perpective on radicalisation beliave that “the process of adopting or promoting an extremist belief system for the purpose of facilitating ideologically based violence to advance political, religious, or social change is called radicalisation.
“Deradicalization” is totally oppoiste term of radicalisation. It is the process of abandoning an extremist worldview and concluding that it is not acceptable to use violence to effect social change. Deradicalisation is not a new term, there had been many de-radicalization programs in Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Colombia, Northern Ireland, Indonesia and Sri-lanka. Most of the deradicalization programs established to date have focused largely on ideological factors seeking to “deradicalize” participants through argument of the content of terrorist groups’ doctrines and religious interpretations. But the Saudi program has a somewhat broader scope that fosters participants’ reintegration with their families and affords some economic assistance in the post-program period. This programe has been successful so far as compare to the other programs.
However, there are certain elements of these programs that can be effective as U.S., NATO, Pakistani, and Afghan governments and militaries adopt strategies to reduce the risk of re-engagement after a member has participated in a disengagement or reconciliation process.
These programs mainly aim to prevent future terrorism and promote successful re-entry into society of former combatants, rather than truly de-radicalize the participants. It is necessary for us to understand the underlying assuptions of the people in tribal areas and other parts of Pakistan.
Most of the people in tribal areas and other parts of Pakistan believe that war against terror is the major cause of radicalisation in Pakistan. It is widely beliaved that Pakistan’s policies as a key US non-nato ally proven to be disastrous for Pakistan, which led to the rise in terrorism, extremism and radicalisation in Pakistan. US drone attacks have also contributed to radicalisation in Pakistan.
Religious zealots intrepreted erroneous picture of Islam and brought radical and extreme views among masses in tribal and rural areas in Pakistan. Lack of development, poverty, unemployment, inflation, food insecurity are factors which promoted radicalisation in some parts of Pakistan. Absence of social justice and has also radicalised people in some parts.
It is imperative for the government to come up with a comprehensive de-radicalisation programe to counter terrorism and extremism in Pakistan. Pakistan armed forces played an important role in stablising the security situation in Swat and tribal agencies.
After the successful operations in Swat Pakistan Army started de-radicalization programme. According to COAS Gen Kayani de-radicalization programme was built around four pillars:-
a. De-radicalization of juveniles.
b. De- radicalization of selected "reconcilable" detainees.
c. De- radicalization of families of selected detainees to which they would fall back on release.
d. De-radicalization of certain villages in general, from which the bulk of militants had originated.
Such programs at bigger level would help Pakistan army and government to end radicalisation and extremism from certain affected areas of Pakistan.
In this regard academia and think tanks can play a constructive role in curbing radicalisation with seminars, workshops debates, and conferences. Education is very improtnat commponent for Deradicalization, government must allocate more funds and start new programes to promote adult education because only education can deviate people from radical and extremist views.
Persuasion, Dialogue, Economic and Social incentives are very important components, some people could be diverged with these tactics. Pakistan government can seek help from International community/Partners to share their best pratices and experiances to combat extremism and radicalization in Pakistan.