Building an empirical knowledge base is imperative to counter-radicalization in Pakistan
Despite the phenomenal rise of radical ideologies in Pakistan, the country lacks an empirical knowledge base to form counter-strategies. These observations were shared with a visiting high profile European delegation of academics, practitioners and community lobbyists on 24 May 2010 here at PIPS. The delegation was comprised of Dr. Harald Weilnböck, a psychotherapist by profession and one of the leading European experts on radicalization, Alan Weston, associated with the European Institute for Social Services, Catriona Robertson, Convener of the London Boroughs Faith Network, A.R. Tanko, General secretary of the Forum for International Development, Toaha BZ Qureshi, the chairman of Stockwell Green Community Services and Dr. Arif Malik, Director Academics Stockwell Green Community Services. The delegation is on a three days visit to Pakistan to attend an international conference on ‘Extremism-Education & Rehabilitation’ in collaboration with Forum for International Relations Development (F.I.R.D.) and Baha-ud-Din Zakariya University, Multan on 26 May, 2010. Their visit to PIPS was aimed at sharing practices and experiences on de-radicalization, disengagement and religious rehabilitation of the terrorists.
The PIPS, as an independent research centre, has taken this initiative to build a knowledge base on the issue of radicalization in Pakistan to facilitate the academic research and policy discourse. The PIPS researchers, who have been actively engaged in various research studies on the said topics, briefed the delegates on the phenomenon of radicalization in Pakistan. The visitors were informed that both, internal and external factors are at play in radicalizing large segments of Pakistani society. They also shared their experiences during the field work on a sensitive issue such as extremism and violent radicalization. The visitors expressed their concerns over the rising trend of Islamist and right-wing radicalization in various European countries. While emphasizing the global scale of the threat of radicalization, the participants unanimously agreed that the counter efforts must be coordinated on the global level and the exchange of ideas and expertise among academics, media persons and policy makers ought to be encouraged by the governments and donor organizations.