Radicalisation versus international extremism

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By Senator Rehman Malik

THE recent takeover of Afghanistan by the Afghan Taliban will certainly affect Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and other extremists in Pakistan. The TTP is fully operational across the 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 of radicalisation 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 the Minister of Interior and it is valid even today and fits in both Pakistan and Afghanistan.

“Pakistan had brought down the frequency of suicide bombings; extremism in the Afghanistan-Pakistan region 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 the Taliban and extremism kept on spreading. There were 300 madrasas in the region when the war ended and the number had risen to 23,000 when the PPP government came to office in Pakistan. All madrasas were not involved in terrorism but there was an effort to brainwash those studying in them. Religion and poverty were two important things, and “when combined, these can be very lethal and that is what we faced”. Children were recruited for Rs15,000-20,000 and were indoctrinated to act as suicide bombers. Thankfully our forces 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 now had splinter groups. Pakistan was facing one of the worst times of its history when extremism was rising, particularly in Muslim majority countries, and was being spread by those with some “vested motives”. We need a de-radicalisation programme and I am a very strong advocate of inter-faith harmony because if there is a confrontation on the basis of religion, I see the clash of civilisations theory come true. Phase one of radicalisation started when we allowed proxy wars from our county and the race of madrassas was launched from various religious schools of thought, among which some were supported by Libya and some by Saudi Arabia and the third faction was supported by Iran.

Afghan nationals coming from their country at Chaman border

Extremism emerged from some of these Madrassahs. As Interior Minister, I had made all the factions agree on one syllabus and it was placed before the highest body of the National Action Plan but this agenda has not been implemented yet despite having full agreement and consensus by all political parties and schools of thought. This shows our non-serious national attitude towards reducing radicalisation.

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

Agreement between the Government of Pakistan and the Ittehad-e-Tanzeemate-Madaris Pakistan (ITMP)

The Government of Pakistan sincerely wants that the students coming out of Deeni Madaris should get equal opportunities in all walks of life. To achieve this goal, an agreement was made between the Government of Pakistan and ITMP on October 7, 2010. Both parties agreed on the following points:

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

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.

Afghan militants patrolling at roads in Kabul

3. The five boards of ITMP shall be recognised like other Boards through an Act of Parliament or 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, the Government will appoint two nominees on each of the five ITMP boards’ curriculum committee.

6. The Government, desiring to obtain any information about Madaris shall approach ITMP/member board. Any complaint against any Madarsahs shall not be acted upon without taking the concerned ITMP board 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. Foreign students’ registration will be regulated through the 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-e-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-al-Islamia, Pakistan and Maulana Niyaz Hussain Naqvi, Senior Vice President Wafaq-ul-Madris Al-Shia, Pakistan.

I wish if this was converted into legislation, we would have some regulatory control in making our education system helping us to enhance the intra-factions religious harmony in our country.

National interests have gone now a second priority and we are the country in the Muslim world where religion and administration go parallel and the result is very much available now. Talibanisation is an extreme form of violence. The taking over of Afghanistan by the Afghan Taliban will encourage some religious factions having a close ideology with the 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 younger generation especially from Madaris but also the worst effects will be on ex-FATA and Balochistan where India and the west have already created pockets to destabilise Pakistan. Radicalisation is continuing and it could prove to be highly detrimental for the country.

There will be an attempt to enhance the demand for Sharia laws and the government must keep a counter-strategy to deal with the handlers of this mission which could bring serious distress internally.

Are we ever going to have international and local interfaith harmony to end this hate within and between religions?

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

(The writer is former Interior Minister of Pakistan, Chairman Senate Standing Committee on Interior and Chairman of Think Tank “Global Eye”. He is the author of four books and his fifth book is about to get published. He can be reached at: rmalik1212@gmail.com, Twitter 

@Senrehmanmalik)