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Pakistan needs to develop consensus on combating radicalization and extremism: Parvaiz Hoodbhoy

“There is need to create harmony and consensus in the society and the political forces to combat radicalization and extremism as their threat is rapid increasing. Radicalization is a process or series of experiences that an individual goes through, and at the end of which it becomes an extremist, the ultimate outcome of which is violence. At first, a perception develops in such individuals that there is one and only one right way, and all other ways are wrong and unreal. Secondly, when an individual comes to believe that he/she, and (or) the group he is in, are being discriminated and can’t find justice, a psyche of ‘victimhood’ grows that leads them to use of violent and extremist means”. Professor Pervez Hoodbhoy, who was addressing a session on radicalization at Pak Institute for Peace Studies (PIPS), Islamabad on April 22, 2009, stated this. Prof. Hoodbhoy is a nuclear physicist and head of Department of Physics at Quaid-e-Azam University, Islamabad. He has authored nine books and regularly writes on social, environmental and cultural issues.

Explaining the term extremism he said we cannot understand it unless we understand our own relative position. First we need to understand that there are some shared assumptions, which are accepted globally. There are some things which everybody believes in, like all human beings are same, they should be treated equally before law, they should have independence, and then color, language, age, sex etc., are the assumptions that individuals automatically make. To comprehend the development of the ‘other side’, understanding of one’s own side is imperative in locating someone between two extremes.

Talking about the contribution of education in the process of radicalization in Pakistan, he said that right from the beginning the children are told that there are conspiracies working against Pakistan and Islam. Children’s analytical minds are not developed and as a result, they are unable to think by themselves. Such minds can become easily prone to indoctrination.

Responding to a question if Taliban can win in Pakistan, he categorically said “yes” they can. “They have strengthened their hold in Swat and Buner and can go ahead”. With regard to Pakistani madaris, religious seminaries, he said they should be reformed at any cost but it is not clear how to do it, and is not an easy job as well. He concluded his address saying there is need to create harmony and consensus in the society and the political forces to combat radicalism and extremism.