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Extremists’ mindset—A menace needs to be overwhelmed

The horrendous and abysmal episode of the gut-wrenching Taliban attack  on Army Public School and College (APSC) on December 16 last year in Peshawar, Pakistan has brought all political parties on a table to hammer out an effective strategy to fight extremism and terrorism.

The 68-year-old war-ravaged Pakistan suffered a lot–in terms of human and collateral losses–due toextremism, militancy and Talibanization. The monster of extremism has deep rooted in the Pakistani society and created chaos and mayhem in the country. More than 50000 people have been died and thousands got injured due to the menace of extremism and insurgency in the war-hit country.

No doubt that the Pakistani government and armed forces have adopted pragmatic approach in order to root out terrorism and extremism from the country once and for all.

The government after monstrous attack on APSC lifted moratorium on death sentence, terrorists are being hanged, asked Afghan refugees to go backs, expedited military operation in tribal areas against terrorists and so on.

However, defeating extremism is a Herculean task and it can’t be done without changing extremists mindset of the people and aggressive ideologies of the militants and extremists. As Ludwig Von Mises—renowned philosopher, Austrian School economist and sociologist—said “To defeat the aggression is not enough to make durable peace. The main thing is to discard the  ideology that generates war.” So, efforts need to be made to alter the mind of the people as wars can’t be won alone with the help of weapons, changing mindset is sine qua non for defeating extremism and bringing  lasting peace, tranquility in the country.

Pakistan, de facto, is waging war of the minds and ideologies and to win the war of ideologies it is imperative to change the way of thinking of the people.

To change the mindset of the people, religious scholars (ulema) of different schools of thoughts need to come forward and play their ‘positive role’ in eliminating extremism and promoting a culture of tolerance and acceptance–acceptance to others’ beliefs, values, religion–in the society. But unfortunately, clerics and seminaries in Pakistan are blamed for fuming out sectarianism and extremism.

Although, Pakistan Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan said “90 percent of religious seminaries are not involved in terrorism and all studying at the seminaries are not terrorists, rather they are supporting us in this war. We have to isolate those who are involved in the terrorist activities “.

Nevertheless, the fact can’t be ruled out that some seminaries spread hatred, sectarianism and extremismand receive funds from foreign countries.

According to the first “National Internal Security Policy”, “some of the country’s 22,000 madrassas (educational religious institutions) are responsible for spreading extremism in the country.” The policy said that students are being brainwashed in the madrassas–over which the government has little control–and are forced to take up arms.

Nobody in Islamabad can brush aside the reality that extremists exist within us and it is the responsibility of the government and citizens, both to sort out elements which spread hatred, violence, fanaticism and sheerextremism.

It is the responsibility of the government to keep close vigil on those seminaries and institutions which serve as the breeding grounds, nurseries and safe havens for the extremists and religious fanatics.

The government needs to keep check on extremism-sponsoring madrassas, register them and bring reforms in them without dilly-dallying tactics.

According to media reports, an amount of Rs50 million had been allocated for madrassas mainstreaming in the fiscal year 2014-15, but according to the reports madrassas mainstreaming project still awaits funds.

Realizing the gravity and seriousness of the precarious situation of the country, the government should release funds forthwith for bringing madrassas in the mainstream and keep a close vigil on them. There should also be check on the sources of funding to the madrassas and their activities should be monitored properly without any discrimination.

Besides bringing reforms in madrassas, law-enforcement agencies and intelligence agencies need to strengthen their network system so that proactive approach could be adopted for fighting terrorism andextremism.

If the government fails to prevent the youth from falling into the hands of ‘religious fanatics’ and block the ways of making them extremists, the APSC like incidents will become order of the day.

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