LAHORE -  A counter narrative to violent extremism is a must for effective implementation of National Action Plan

This was upshot of a two-day conference which was concluded yesterday. Speakers said that creating a sense of citizenship among the masses was need of time to counter the extremist thought in the country. Besides, they said, it was imperative to promote the concept of equality and cultural pluralism which was missing.

Dr Hasan Askri, Dr Riffat Hussain, Amir Rana, Justice (r) Nasira Javed Iqbal, Peter Jacob, Ayesha Siddiqa, Dr Irfan Shahzad, Dr Tahir Ameen, Khawaja Khalid Farooq, Dr Shafqat  Munir SDPI, Ahmed Bilal Mehboob and Salman Abid were among the speakers.

The speakers said Pakistani society was a tolerant one before 1977 and it took around two generations to reach its present state where the culture of dialogue and peaceful co-existence had been taken over by that of violence and intolerance. 

They said to neutralise violence it is necessary to understand it and that there no hurdle if genuine efforts are made to unlearn it. They said democracy teaches non-violent resolution but unfortunately democratic behavior was invisible in our policies. Extremism was directly linked with poverty, the living conditions of a person and the environs in which he had been brought up, they added.

They presented the initiatives and achievements of the government on promoting cultural activities for peaceful socialization process of the society. A message of peace and successful outcomes of the government initiatives was sent by Salman Sufi, Senior Member, Punjab Chief Minister's Special Monitoring Unit (SMU) on law & order

In group work session, stakeholders representing civil society, conventional and social media, think-tanks and academia identified gaps and challenges in developing a counter narrative in the society and came up with recommendations on how to achieve the desired objectives.