Islamabad - Top academicians and scholars have said that flawed policies at home and troubled relations with India and Afghanistan are aggravating ethnic, tribal and religious militancy, urging civil and military leadership to revisit the policies.

“The flawed policies of Pakistani state and our troubled relationship with India and Afghanistan are responsible for our difficulties,” said Prof Dr Tahir Amin, Vice Chancellor Bahauddin Zakaria University, Multan. He was speaking on the inaugural day of the two-day National Conference organised by Konrad Adenauer Stiftung and Department of Peace and Conflict Studies of National Defence University on the issue of “Pakistan’s Policy of Countering Violent Extremism: Progress and Challenges.”

The conference is being organised to create a discourse on Pakistan’s internal and external security challenges due to violent extremism and the actions taken against them, said Dr Arshi Saleem Hashmi, the conference coordinator.

Prof Amin suggested that a perfect implementation of rule of law; continuity of democratic process; socio-economic justice; sensitivity to ethnic, linguistic and cultural plurality; as well as paradigmatic shift in foreign policy towards neighbours are the factors necessary to build upon the successes achieved by Operation Zarb-e-Azb. He stated that FATA should be made a separate province to overcome the tribal and ethnic militancy.

The conference is being attended by eminent scholars from across the country including Prof Moonis Ahmar, Dr Hasan Askari Rizvi, Dr Minhas Majeed Khan, Dr Farhan Hanif Siddiqui and Dr Naeem Ahmed. Prof Moonis Ahmar, Dean Faculty of Social Science and Meritorious Professor at the University of Karachi, while presenting his research paper on “Conceptual Understanding of Violent Extremism: Pakistan and the Predicament of Youth” said, “Extremism, if not controlled, can take a violent shape, it can polarise the youth of the country, and destabilise not only society but also the state.

He suggested that extremism in its violent form evolves in the minds of people and can only be overcome if there is positive transformation of human minds to have tolerance. Dr Minhas Majeed, Assistant Professor at the Department of IR, University of Peshawar, highlighted the “New Dynamics of the Post 9/11 Redefinition of Violence in the name of Religion” during the seminar. She was of the view that the unpredictable menace of religious intolerance and extremism that emanates from internal as well as external security issues has not only disrupted the social fabric of society but has also impacted Pakistan’s standing in religion and global politics. She also referred to a survey study quoting that sectarian violence in Pakistan has been decreased by 48 percent from 2009-2015.

Prof Dr Hassan Askari Rizvi, political and defence analyst said that the radical mindset was initially created by socialisation process initiated by Pakistani government through education and by using media as well as the state machinery.

The militant organisations have wrong perception about Islam. He analysed the social and political change in violent manifestation of religio-political objectives. D Farhan Hanif Siddiqui, associate professor at Quaid-e-Azam University, was of the view that besides religion, intolerance and radicalisation are prevalent in our restive political culture. He presented his findings specifically on “Rising Intolerance and Radicalisation Leading to Violent Extremism in Pakistan.”

Dr Naeem Ahmed, associate professor at department of international relations, University of Karachi, also highlighted that the dangerous phase of sectarian menace began after 9/11 incident when the domestic sectarian militant organisations established their links with international terrorist groups e.g. al-Qaeda and IS and started playing the role of the facilitator and also became part of global Jihadism.

In a robust discussion that followed during the sessions, participants agreed that civilian government and military should work in liaison with each other for the ultimate elimination of the militant sectarian groups, which is largely dependent upon the determination and political will of the state.

The seminar was well attended by policymakers, legal experts, members of civil society and media, and a large number of students.