Islamabad-A comprehensive framework is required to counter the narrative of terrorism in the Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) and to promote the interfaith harmony, the HEIs head said on Monday. The Higher Education Commission (HEC) and the Islamic Research Institute, International Islamic University, Islamabad (IIUI) organised a ‘Vice Chancellors Conference’ titled ‘Deliberate Role of Universities to Counter Violence and Extremism’.

Around 80 heads of the universities from the country attended the conference. The VCs and Rectors unanimously declared that it is imperative to institute measures that engage youth and students in gainful academic and social activities and promote professionalism, higher moral and ethical conduct, tolerance and respect for diversity.

Specific objectives of the conference included searching a legal and theological framework for saving campuses from onslaught of militant ideologies, proposing measures for effectiveness of universities’ administration and inculcation of national narrative.

Chief guest Federal Minister for Human Rights Mumtaz Ahmed Tarar stressed the need to engage students in healthy curricular and co-curricular activities.

“It is imperative to study our respective holy books in our own language so as to completely understand the divine message,” he added.

He expressed his confidence that deep study would help eradicate the malice of terrorism.

Talking to audience during plenary session, Senator Mushahid Hussain Syed showed his support regarding amendment in legislation for empowering of Vice Chancellors in universities.

He assured that recommendations of the conference would be keenly deliberated and would help in future legislation.

He appreciated the efforts of HEC and said that access to education has qualitatively and quantitatively increased during the last few years.

Addressing VCs, Chairman HEC Dr Mukhtar Ahmed discussed previous efforts of HEC regarding sensitising university leadership about prevalent issue of violence, extremism and terrorism in higher education institutions, wherein a broad spectrum of realities and hurdles were put forth.  HEIs heads were encouraged to institute sustainable programme and processes to address possible threats of radicalization.

 Chairman HEC stressed that Pakistan’s armed forces are safeguarding our geographical borders but being educationists it is our foremost duty to secure country’s ideological borders.

He emphasised that our youth is being neglected at all levels ranging from their homes to educational institutions and it is responsibility of teachers and parents to address their issues and challenges with utmost care and engage them in productive activities.

 Rector IIU Prof.Dr Masoom Yasinzai said that extremists have started targeting our youth and in some cases faculty and staff were also involved.

The Rector informed the audience that over 1500 Ulema have unanimously drafted a declaration called as “Paigham-e-Pakistan” which is approved by President of Pakistan Mamnoon Hussain and is under publication which would soon be disseminated as a policy document.

 President IIUI Dr Ahmed Yousif A. Al-Draiweesh informed the audience that IIUI is working with the government institutions to bring a unanimous declaration to be implemented in institutions after getting recommendations from stakeholders.

Member National Assembly Farhana Qamar emphasised on industry-academia linkages. She underlined the need for betterment of education and health sectors and emphasized that unemployment is one of the major reasons of extremism.

During the conference, HEIs heads were divided into four groups to deliberate on ideological challenges to the universities, security challenges to the universities, role of universities in national integration, and ways and methods of Mainstreaming University Faculty, staff and Students.

Furthermore, the university heads resolved that Higher Education Institutions would be developed as communities of scholars who will inform, instruct and inspire community in the light of National Action Plan.