For the past few months, a large billboard near the main gate of the Islamia College University has been inviting students to a certificate course in International Terrorism Studies (ITS). The course has been introduced by the South Asian Centre for International and Regional Studies (SACIRS) – described by its website as a non-profit organisation based in Peshawar.
Waqar Ali, a SACIRS employee and M Phil scholar at the University of the Peshawar (UoP) told The Express Tribune that it was a three-month certificate. Ali said that this course will be launched from October this year. He added that experts from UoP and foreign professors will also deliver lectures in this course.
When asked about why they introduced ITS, Waqar replied that they had previously arranged courses in conflict management and other disciplines.
“People need to know what terrorism is about,” he said, adding that people are keen on enrolling in the course.
“Officials from intelligence agencies and the Pakistan Army are also expected to join the course,” Waqar maintained.
SACIRS director Hussain Shaheed Soharwardi explained that people usually talk about terrorism without knowing what it is and the issues which are involved in it. He said increasing public awareness was the primary reason to launch this course. Soharwardi added that many have asked to him to start this course in Islamabad. But, since Peshawar and its neighbouring areas were worst hit by the violence, he started this course in the provincial capital.
About the contents, he said that they will teach the theories of terrorism and discuss different terrorist organisations. “Starting with the Irish Republican Army we will discuss Pak-US and Nato operations and strategies for the Af-Pak region.”
Arguably, Peshawar has withstood terrorism’s worst onslaught. The city has grappled with the worst terrorist attacks at the height of Taliban insurgency, and still carries scars from its past. Perhaps, it is a sign of changing times as terrorist attacks have dropped, security is lax and no more barricades are being made. More importantly, it is trying to make sense of terrorism by tackling it academically.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 28th, 2012.