Robust national narrative against extremism finalized, says NACTA chief

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Zubair Qureshi

National Counter Terrorism Authority (NACTA) has finalised a robust national narrative on extremism, sectarianism, terrorism and militancy. This narrative once approved by the Government of Pakistan will be the cornerstone of the country’s response to non-traditional threats and to deal with extremist ideology. This was shared by MrIhsan Ghani, National Coordinator, National Counter Terrorism Authority (NACTA), on Tuesday at the One Day Conference ‘Issues of Radicalisation and Extreme Behaviour in Pakistan’ organised by the Islamabad Policy Research Institute.
He discussed that the draft was developed in consultation with academia, Ulemas and media after 18-month long strenuous efforts. ‘The National Narrative depicts the consensus and resolve of our nation for its future progression and describes Pakistan’s true values,’ he said. The National Narrative themes include encountering the mis-constructed religious beliefs and creating interfaith harmony and tolerance; implementation of law and establishing the writ of the state; trust development amongst state institutions; strengthening socio-cultural values and customs; working with media; reviewing economic policies and national development; reconciliation and rehabilitation of extremists. Ghani also shared that the National Counter Extremism Guidelines had also been finalised and were awaiting approval of the Government. The Guidelines cover areas like service delivery, people’s engagement, education reforms, enabling environment, rehabilitation, reintegration and renunciation and also the promotion of culture.
Discussing ‘Radicalisation and Extreme Behaviours in Pakistan: Leading Causes’, Dr Khurram Iqbal, Assistant Professor from the National Defence University, stressed that single factor theories fall short of explaining the cases of terrorism in Pakistan. ‘We need to recognise that radicalisation is caused by multiple factors like vengeance, poverty and religious fundamentalism playing varying roles at the individual, organisational and environmental levels.’
Lt Gen (R) Masood Aslam, HI, HI(M), SJ in his discussion on ‘Pakistan’s Counter Radicalisation Strategy: Lessons Learnt and Way Forward’ said that the government should not only eliminate the physical militant infrastructure, recruitment bases and recruiters who support radical elements and militant violence, it should also support more vociferously mainstreaming some of the radical elements. He said that ‘this is no doubt risky, but a concerted and coherent policy with clearly defined lines must be put in place to mainstream the amenable as kinetic efforts alone cannot eliminate terrorism or extremism.’
In the Q/A session, the panellists answered various questions and pointed out that implementation of NACTA’s draft policies and guidelines hinge on an integrated implementation approach wherein all departments of provincial governments coalesce their efforts towards projects aimed at diminishing extremist tendencies.

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