MIRPUR (AJK)-A seminar titled “role of academia in evolving counter-narrative to terrorism in Pakistan,” was held here the other day.

The seminar was held under the auspices of Department of Governance and Public Policy (G&PP) at National University of Modern Languages (NUML) on “The role of academia in evolving counter narrative to terrorism in Pakistan”. It came in the wake of recently reported involvement of students and academics in terrorism related activities.

While speaking to around more than hundred faculty members from various departments, Professor Masood Raja at the seminar stressed a need for understanding the behavioural and identity aspects and described the same as key contributors to shaping destructive behaviours.

He laid greater emphasis on pedagogical methodologies that could be central in creating an inclusive, tolerant, and just society. He further stated that academia needs to explore and promote strength of Pakistani culture and indigenous values of coexistence, tolerance, compassion and resilience. He said despite hardships and critical times, they not only sustain but also help Pakistani society revive and stay vibrant. He also emphasised critical teaching methodology which, in Pakistani context, needs to be updated and modernised through cross cultural interactions.

“Most of the time our pedagogy is authoritarian in nature that does not promote critical thinking and rational decision making,” said Dr Raja.

Dean Faculty of Management Sciences Dr Maqsoodul Hassan and Head of the Department of G&PP Dr Waqas Ali welcomed the chief guest and thanked the attendees for their active participation.

A large number of students also participated and raised some key questions on their role in promoting democratic values for a peaceful and just society.

To a question on areas of improvement in academia, the guest speaker highlighted that in order to create a peaceful society, time has come when we need to review our instruction methods. These should be more participatory and give recognition to various viewpoints besides improving curriculum to promote logic, diversity and challenging stereotypes, he said.

“We need to enable our students to be more participatory and engaging to explore things without any restriction, and teachers not forget their mentorship role which is missing in today’s academia,” said Dr Raja. He stressed the need to promote values of diversity among students and presence of student’s organisations for generating debates and dialogues on the key issue.