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Promotion of religious diversity and popular past can be an effective bulwark against growing radicalization in Pakistan

Violent tendencies are increasing in Pakistan as compared to other Muslim countries. Though people are against Taliban but they do not openly oppose their agenda per se. These were the views expressed by participants of a seminar titled “Radicalization in Pakistan” organized by Pak Institute for Peace Studies (PIPS) on September 14, 2010 Islamabad.

The seminar was organized to launch the latest edition of the organization’s quarterly journal, Conflict and Peace Studies. The journal contains the findings of a recently conducted survey by PIPS to gauge the trends and patterns of radicalization in educated Pakistani youth.

In his opening remarks PIPS Director, Amir Rana noted “All those states which were relying on non-state actors as their proxies to fulfill their strategic designs and objectives are now finding it difficult to adjust to new realities with major changes in geo-political and geo-strategic environment especially in the aftermath of 9/11.”   He said, “A revision of such policies was direly needed to cope with changing global political system especially in Pakistan.”

In her remarks Miss Salma Malik, Lecturer Department of Defense & Strategic Studies at Quaid-i-Azam University  (QAU) maintained that anti-Americanism can be one possible reason of radicalization in the society , however, one cannot attribute it solely to anti-Americanism.” She maintained that social decay in Pakistan has degraded to such an extent that violent trends are visible in our social behaviors and attitudes.

Highlighting the underlying causes of radicalization renowned counter-terrorism analyst and consultant of National Counter Terrorism Authority (NACTA), Manzar Zaidi stressed upon the need to develop counter narratives and measures to do away with extremism and radicalization in Pakistan. He said while extremism has evolved in Pakistan quickly but the research on such topics has failed to keep up the pace with such quickly transforming and expanding trends.

In his speech British researcher, Amal Khan shed light on causal link between poverty and radicalization. He maintained that the inter-link between poor economic conditions and radicalization in the society cannot be neglected.   He stressed upon the need to rewrite of social contract between different strata of society.

Senior Journalist Cyril Amaida said, “Reviving the popular past with its rich cultural heritage of art and promotion of religious diversity can serve as an effective bulwark against radicalization and extremism in the country.” PIPS researcher Saba Noor presented findings of “Radicalization in Educated Youth of Pakistan” published in PIPS Journal of Peace and Conflict Studies.

During the open discussion and question answer session participants discussed the role of state in the context of growing religious intolerance in Pakistani polity.