Pakistan is fighting the war on terror effectively on the ground and they have achieved success. But fighting is not the only solution. Why? Because the recent attack on Peshawar High Court Judge on February 28, 2019, has proved that there is a dire need for de-radicalisation strategy than military operations.

International response to countering radicalisation is taking on creative, multi-level actions. But in Pakistan the only solution targeting impoverished youth is in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa through de-radicalisation centres. It is time we adopt out of the box thinking and should do more than fighting to counter terrorism. 

2. De-radicalisation centres

De-radicalisation has been discussed a lot in our media but none have found solutions to it nor have they offered a methodology to counter radical ideology. The military and its counter terrorism department links radicalisation to poverty. In their view, poverty is the only driver of radicalisation. Because of this they only offer skills to children, including psychological support, in their de-radicalisation Centres in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, while ignoring other parts of the country.

When we look at statistics Khyber Pakhtunkhwa certainly is a hotbed for radicalisation but it’s not the only breading ground of radical thinkers. Why have we not established de-radicalisation centres in other parts of the country?

De-radicalisation centres are used to de-radicalising youth who are caught in military operations. This is their only mandate. But could this mandate be extended, say to a broader group that are not already far in the radicalisation process or not already taking up weapons in military operations?

While the focus of the de-radicalisation centre is on those captured and are already radicalised, are there other opportunities? Should we spend our resources on those already radicalised or should we address the process of radicalisation too? Is there a role we can play in intervening before our young people become radical?

1. Radicalisation is believe or expressing the belief that there should be great or extreme social and political change.

The government is running De-radicalisation Centres since 2009 but they are not proven effective. Part of this is linked to them trying to de-radicalise young people without understanding the drivers behind radicalisation. For countering radicalisation first we have to understand why a child has been radicalized? What are the drivers behind his radicalization? We must listen to their beliefs and what influenced these beliefs, thereafter we can design new beliefs to counter them.

Terrorist groups like ISIS and TTP are using propaganda with very clear aims to target young people. They are targeting narratives to specific people through social media. After understanding the young person’s mentality they indoctrinate their narrative. These narratives are targeted to different groups, with different beliefs.

Terrorists are not only targeting poor people but rich and the highly educated as well. 

Radicalisation is related to ideology. While ideology provides a background that is why young people are attracted to radical thinking.  There are many factors that push a young person to adopt radical ideology. These are factors such as peer groups, influential Masjid Imams and a lack of Islamic Knowledge and lack of opportunities like jobs or feeling of social purpose.

While our emphasis continues to be de-radicalisation, should we not start to consider counter radicalisation? This being the ability to understand what is driving young people to join radical groups and interrupting the messages of terrorist groups to target young people.

There should be a clear counter radicalisation strategy so that the youth who want to escape radicalisation may get alternate information.

The Government should design alternate narratives to counter terrorist narratives because in the absence of alternative narrative the youth may easily fall prey to terrorist narrative and easily seduced by radical ideas.

Kamran Khan
The writer has done MPhill in Media Studies. His research topic was “War on Terror, Comparative analysis of the local and National Press a case study of Daily Dawn, Jang, Mashriq and The Frontier Post." He has completed a course on Producing Media to counter Radicalisation in Netherland. Currently, he is working as Media Monitoring officer in Law and order Department, Fata Secretariat Peshawar.

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