In addition to religious fanaticism, there are various social and economic factors responsible for radicalisation in society and there is a need for a drastic policy shift from the state before it is too late.
This was the consensus among speakers at a penal dialogue here on Monday. The event, titled “Radicalisation in Pakistan: Perspective and Resolution”, was held by Pakistan Institute of Peace Studies (PIPS).
Religious scholars, journalists and civil society members attended the session, during which they gave their recommendations to overcome radicalisation.
They said poverty, social injustice, political weakness and most importantly, the state policy, are equally responsible for breeding radical elements besides religious extremism.
“There is no sectarian animosity between Shias and Sunnis, the fact is that the state policy has converted our peaceful society into a war zone,” remarked Majlis Wahdat Muslimeen leader Maulana Maqsood Ali Domki. He said over 800 Shias were killed in Balochistan alone during the past 15 years, but not a single culprit was arrested and punished.
“It is impossible for these imperialist forces to pursue their agendas for so long without the support of security agencies,” he noted, adding that such state patronisation will backfire in future.
Saleem Safi, a journalist, termed radicalisation in Pakistan as “fallout of policies adopted by the state” and stressed on improving ties with India and working on peace in Afghanistan. “We have to achieve this at all cost for long-term peace and stability in our own country,” he added.
Religious scholar Maulana Raghib Naeemi, while speaking at the event, also attributed extremism to poverty, discrimination, exploitation and injustice and criticised political parties formed on religious grounds for promoting intolerance.
Meanwhile, Wafaaqul Madaaris Al-Salafia General Secretary Maulana Yasin Zafar highlighted the state’s lack of attention towards its people, which he said had pushed them towards fundamentalism and extremism.
“Quality education in this country is so expensive that poor people have no choice but to send their children to seminaries for free food and education. How can you expect welfare in society where women and children can be rented for begging,” he questioned.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 11th, 2012.