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Radicalization Challenges

LETTER: The monster of radicalization, intolerance, extremism, and sectarianism has spread its vicious tentacles eating into the very vitals of Pakistani society. Interestingly, sixty percent of our approximately 200 million-strong population is the younger generation. This second largest youth bulge offers tremendous demographic dividend if tapped and utilized properly; otherwise, it could turn into a demographic time bomb.

Radicalization of the youth warrants little attention of the corridors of power.Unfortunately, due to the absence of a national youth policy, this younger generation is marginalized, disorganized, and considered unimportant for state institutions. The recent senseless, coldblooded murder of Mashal Khan, including religiously-motivated killings, corroborates this stark reality.

Is this phenomenon happened overnight, or the by-product of the prolonged multi-faceted, threateningly over-lapping interrelationships between social structures, political contexts and biographical exposure in which violence is embedded.

Pragmatically, a holistic, diagnostic venture is required to delve deep into the push-and-pull factors leading to endemic radicalization and its antecedents. The first stems from flawed and stratified education system, economic disparity, and chronic lack of meritocracy in the job markets, while the later emanates from misuse of religion both for domestic and external compulsions by the civilian and military set-up. Other factors include regional conflicts, socio-political marginalization, and perceived injustice for a person’s community.

The silver lining lies in holistic reforms. A fresh anti-terror narrative need to be launched which could completely debunk militant discourse based on violent jihad, sectarianism and quest for the so-called caliphate. For this to happen, the National Counter-Terrorism Authority be revitalized and media make it its recurrent themes.De-radicalization should be prioritized as a national policy. Curricula be purged of religious indoctrination, political inaccuracies and social stereotyping. Reforming and strengthening the criminal justice system, police and intelligence agencies must be prioritized on war footing.Madressah reforms and keep tabs on those mosques and seminaries which harbor affiliations with terrorists need to materialize forthwith.Deweaponisation  be applied across-the-board.  There is a need to build partnership with the younger generation through the Three Es: education, employment and engagement.

Saeed Ullah Khan Wazir, FR Bannu

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