Countering extremism

Countering violent-extremism needs multi-pronged strategy particularly encompassing two dimensional warfare; operational and psychological. Though Pakistan has operationally got rid of this menace but it continues to psychologically influence our social fabric.
All the stakeholders showed a greater resolve in the National Action Plan for a two dimensional struggle, but the operational level has been more effectual than psychological dimension. We have fought a successful war at operational level where our security forces have made enormous efforts to neutralise the threat of terrorism. A tangible decrease in the terrorist activities is a clear manifestation. Although peace has been established in much of the country we need to more focus on its psychological level for the complete eradication of this threat.
The following strategies may be adopted at psychological level of this war. First, a counter narrative is the need of the hour. This counter narrative must be established through debate at national level. For this a healthy debate may be started at university level. Most importantly, this narrative then should not be imposed on all segments of society; otherwise, it would add fears to the problem. Ensuring freedom of speech, let the debates at different levels of society create a new realistic narrative.
Second, restructuring the whole educational system is essential to eradicate extremism. Educational reforms are necessary to establish harmony in our society. The syllabi should be reformed in order to address extremist views of our society. It should have a balanced approach towards historical and current issues rather than establishing biased opinions.
It must not discriminate amongst people on the basis of caste, colour, creed or religion. Third, the religious scholars have profound impact on our social fabric. They need to play a more proactive and constructive role in establishing harmony in our society. They must expatiate the teachings of Islam according to the current demands of our society. They should teach people to respect and tolerate each other’s views.
Fourth, the state must ensure a peaceful environment for all citizens. It must not distinguish among its citizens on any basis. In order to formulate a coherent society, free of extremism, state must provide equal opportunities to all segments of society. In this way the manpower of country would be used in the social and economic development of the country. Fifth, Media should play a constructive role in restructuring the traditional views of our society according to the modern values. For that it must disseminate awareness in our society regarding tolerance and moderate behaviour. Also, it should aware our young generation to productively use social media.
KASHIF AHMAD MOHAAR
Lahore

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