An independent think-tank

Political instability as a factor of extremism in Pakistan & suggestions to counter it

Pakistan needs an internal discourse without which it can neither compete extremism nor terrorism at state and societal level.  Alternative discourse is the need of hour, argued Dr. Ayesha Siddiqa Agha,  an independent security analyst and strategic affairs expert and the author of several books including Military Inc.: Inside Pakistan’s Military Economy,  while addressing a seminar “Political Instability as a factor of Extremism in Pakistan & Suggestions to counter it” organized by Pak Institute for Peace Studies (PIPS) Islamabad on October 15, 2009 at its premises.

While highlighting the causes of extremism and militancy she focused on the ‘political instability’ verses ‘policy instability’, and recommended strategies to counter it with in the Pakistani political milieu.

She argued that the democracy in Pakistan is in transition phase and there is civil-military divide which the terrorists are exploiting smartly.  It indicates that these non-state actors are following a consistent policy to exploit the state’s internal sovereignty. Revealing a number of incidents like recent GHQ attack, attack on Sri Lankan cricket team in Lahore, attack on Police training centre at Manawa, she commented that these last few weeks attacks indicated a common features, that is to take more and more Hostages by the militants.

While mentioning GHQ attack, she observed that the army itself is not fully prepared for counter terrorism. She urged a dire need to create a specialized anti-terrorism force and the Special Services Group (SSG) of army should be converted into counter-terrorism force instead of raising a separate force.

She also elaborated the nature of socio-economic development and socio-political development which leads to policy instability suggesting that managing these issues involve long term policy measures as there are no quick fixes available.

She noted terrorism and extremism both are interlinked and Extremism further has two factors one is bad governance, and the other one is ideology. A counter-terrorism strategy cannot be prepared with out looking at counter extremism.

While recommending counter strategies she emphasized a need fir internal discourse should within the Muslim world to provide an alternative discourse. She further suggested overhauling the policy inconsistencies at the state level that lead to political instabilities which are exploited by the extremists. She also suggested that there should be more restrictions on madrassas as madrassas role is very important that is legally regularized with in the system and creating alternatives that the government is not certainly creating. There should be more restrictions placed on madrassas. Through a law it should be made incumbent upon all madrassas to register, revise their curriculum along modern lines and declare their assets and their source of funding. So the system becomes transparent.