An independent think-tank

High-powered parliament-endorsed commissions required to review dealing with militant groups

CVE Consultation-2

To deal with the menace of militancy in the country, parliament should constitute high-powered commissions aimed at reviewing the policies that produced militants and at mainstreaming those willing to shun violence.

These recommendations were suggested by a working group discussing “Rehabilitation and Reintegration of different Brands of Militants”. This was the second dialogue in a series of planned meetings that was convened by Pak Institute for Peace Studies (PIPS) on March 27, 2017 at Ramada Hotel, Islamabad on countering extremism in the country.

Members of the group, understanding the diverse debates of what produced militant groups and how to move forward, called upon the parliament to constitute a high-powered national-level truth and reconciliation commission. This commission should address, among other things, how different brands of militant outfits can be mainstreamed, besides reviewing the policies that produce militancy in the first place. It was deliberated whether the commission may even accept the wrongs committed in the past. A wide-spread amnesty for all, without trial, was contested. No reintegration, rehabilitation and mainstreaming beyond the frameworks of the Constitution will be accepted, it was clarified.

The working group also proposed constituting a platform of reviewing the criteria of banned outfits. The terms of references of such a platform, such as commission, may evolved by a parliamentary group; the parliament should also give given statutory cover to such a platform. Members of this commission suggested to include parliamentarians, social scientists, and other experts. It was suggested that the National Counter Terrorism Authority (NACTA) can serve as secretariat of this platform.

Moreover, the working group also suggested that the outfits once banned should be monitored under a framework by a body within NACTA. The group lamented there is no proper mechanism for monitoring banned outfits, due to which they change names. One member also suggested that the existing anti-terror laws should be reviewed after every three years.

The group members deliberated upon the mechanisms for banning groups and whether or not they can be unbanned. Around 237 religious groups operate in Pakistan, it was shared. These include 24 religious parties, 82 sectarian groups, 104 jihadi groups, and 12 who denounce Pakistan’s constitution.

The working group experts also partially wondered if those Islamist groups who attack inside the country and those who do not, could be bracketed together. The point is of importance when exploring the prospects of reintegrating the latter in Pakistan’s society; for, as per one member, these groups may not necessarily be seen by many Pakistanis, as being hostile to the country.

The group was also told that because sectarianism permeates all these groups, the two cannot be separated neatly. They are like “flesh and blood.” Taking this point forward, the group insinuated that militancy is linked to the process of excommunicating each other. If militants denounce this process (known as takfeer), should there be room for acceptance?

The working group members also discussed how to rehabilitate the radicals. It was suggested that de-radicalization process/exercise should be institutionalized and wide-spread. Professionals should be engaged in the rehabilitation centers. The group discussed the difficulties of responding to the ideologies of the militants within the rehabilitation centers.

Participants included Tariq Khosa, former IG Punjab; Dr. Khalid Masud, former chairperson, Council of Islamic Ideology; Tariq Pervaiz, founding head, NACTA; Khurshid Nadeem, columnist and anchor; Lt. Gen (R) Amjad Shoaib, defense analyst; Muhammad Asghar, NACTA; Muhammad Ziauddin, senior journalist; Afrasiab Khattak, former senator; Gen. (R) Masood Aslam, defense analyst; Syed Arfeen Mehdi, journalist; Khalid Aziz, former secretary, KP; Brigadier (R) Fayyaz, political analyst; and Muhammad Amir Rana, director, PIPS. Members of banned outfits also presented their viewpoints.