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Radicalisation vs international extremism

Senator A Rehman Malik
Tuesday, Sep 14, 2021

(Sitara-e-Shujaat, Nishan-e-Imtiaz)

The recent takeover of Afghanistan by Afghan Taliban will certainly affect Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and other extremists in Pakistan. The TTP is fully operational across Pak-Afghan border and along with Daesh, they are carrying out terrorist activities in Pakistan.

Pakistan has been going through unfortunate phases in its history because of many factors. I had been warning about the growing extremism in Pakistan as it has roots in Jihad during the war between the then Soviet Union and Afghanistan. Here is an extract of my speech as then minister of interior and it is valid even today and fits both on Pakistan and Afghanistan.

“Pakistan had brought down the frequency of suicide bombings and extremism in the Afghanistan-Pakistan region which started "when we decided to take part in Jihad" during the war between the erstwhile Soviet Union and Afghanistan. Thousands of Jihadist landed in Pakistan to fight the Soviet Union and were left with nothing to do after the war. It saw the evolution of Taliban and extremism spreading. There were 300 madaris in the region when the war ended. The number reached to 23,000 when the PPP government came to power in Pakistan.

All madaris were not involved in terrorism, but there was an effort to brainwash those studying in them. Religion and poverty were exploited. Children were recruited for Rs 15,000-20,000 and were indoctrinated to act as suicide bombers. Thanks to our forces, who have been able to handle them well and the frequency of suicide bombers reduced in Pakistan.

I had also stated that organisations like Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan had splinter groups. Pakistan faced one of the worst times of its history with the rise of extremism, particularly in the Muslim majority countries, and was being spread by those with some "vested motives".

We need a de-radicalisation programme. I am a very strong advocate of interfaith harmony as if there is a confrontation on basis of religion, there will be clash of civilisations. The phase one of radicalisation started when we allowed proxy wars from our county and the race of madaris was launched by various religious schools of thought among which some were supported by Libya and some by Saudi Arabia and the other by Iran.

The extremism emerged from some of the madaris. Both Taliban's strong factions are educated from a madrassa in Akora Khattak where the students are taught a certain syllabus.

I as interior minister had made all the factions agreed on one syllabus and it was placed before the highest body of the National Action Plan. But, this agreement is not yet implemented despite having full agreements and consensus by all the political parties and schools of thought. This shows our non-serious national attitudes towards reducing radicalisation.

The points proposed and agreed by all the factions and duly signed are reproduced here for public information.

AGREEMENT BETWEEN GOVERNMENT OF PAKISTAN AND ITTEHAD-E-TANZEEMAT-E-MADARIS PAKISTAN (TMP)

The Government of Pakistan sincerely wants that the students coming out of Deeni Madaris should get equal opportunities in all walks of life. For achieving this goal, an agreement is hereby made between Government of Pakistan and ITMP on this 7th day of October 2010. Both parties have agreed on the following points:-

1. The leadership of ITMP agreed to include compulsory contemporary subjects in curricula of Matric (equivalent "to Sanvia Amma) and Intermediate (equivalent to Sanvia Khassa).

2. All five boards in ITMP will be independent to design the contents of religious education and compulsory subjects will be in accordance with the syllabus prescribed by the Government.

3. The five boards of ITMP shall be recognised like other boards through Act of Parliament Executive Order.

4. After the extension of legal recognition the five boards of ITMP would be linked with the ministry of education.

5. In order to achieve uniformity and standard of education and examination Government will appoint two nominees on each of the five ITMP boards curriculum committee.

6. Government desiring to obtain any information about madaris shall approach ITMP/Member Board. Any complaint against any madrassa shall not be acted upon without taking the ITMP board concerned in confidence.

7. No madrassa shall teach or publish any literature which promotes militancy or spreads sectarianism.

Every madrassa shall abide by the Societies Registration Act of 1860 as amended by Ordinance XIX of 2005, provided that nothing contained herein shall bar the comparative study of various religions or schools of thought or the study of any other subject covered by the Holy Quran, Sunnah or the Islamic jurisprudence.

8. In order to ensure standard of education, uniformity of curricula and standard of examination a "Regulatory Body" shall be established in consultation between ITMP and the Government. The deliberations to establish the proposed body along with its name shall be concluded within 30 days from today.

9. Registration of foreign students will be regulated through ministry of interior.

10. The draft of the Act of Parliament will be in consultation with ITMP and any change will take effect with consensus.

The agreement was signed by me as the interior minister, Mufti Munib-ur-Rahman, General Secretary Ittehad Tanzeemal Madaris, Qari Muhammad Hanif Jalandhri, General Secretary Widaq-ul-Madaris-al-Arabia, Pakistan, Dr Yasin Zafat, Deputy General Secretary Wifaq-ul-Madris Al-Salfia, Pakistan, Maulana Abdul Malik, President Rabita-tul-Madaris-ul-Islamia, Pakistan and Maulana Niyaz Hussain Naqvi. Sanior Vice President Wafaq-ul-Madris Al-Shia, Pakistan.

I wish if this was converted into legislation and we would have some regulatory control to make our education system help us enhance the inter-factions religious harmony in our country.

National interests are now a second priority and we are a country in the Muslim world where religion and administration go parallel and the result is very much clear now. Afghanistan takeover by the Taliban will encourage some religious factions having closed ideology with Afghan Taliban and Pakistani Taliban (TTP). The infection of radicalisation from Daesh and Taliban is bound to travel, spread and infect a part of the young generation especially from madaris. The worst effects will be on ex-FATA and Balochistan where India and the western powers have already created pockets to destabilise Pakistan. Radicalisation is going on and it could prove highly detrimental for the country.

There will be an attempt to enhance the demand for Sharia laws. The government must keep a counter-strategy to deal with the situation.

Are we going to have an international and local-level interfaith harmony to end hate within the religions?

Author note: The views expressed are solely mine and do not necessarily represent the views of my party.

The writer is former interior minister of Pakistan, author of five books, Chairman Institute of Research & Reforms (IRR) Islamabad/ Global Eye. He can be reached at: [email protected], Twitter @Senrehmanmalik, WhatsApp +923325559393