Islamabad, 26th April 2017: The Centre for Pakistan and Gulf Studies (CPGS) hosted a roundtable discussion on ‘Radicalization in Pakistan – Impact of National Action Plan, Challenges and Way Forward’ for a visiting Italian delegation from the think-tank Centro Studi Internazionali (CeSI). The proceedings included two presentations and were chaired by Ambassador (R) Akram Zaki. Participants at the event included members of the academia, experts and policy practitioners.
In her opening remarks Senator Sehar Kamran (TI) highlighted that the scourge of violent extremism has permeated across even the most secure of borders. It knows no religion, caste, or creed, and is a menace to civilizations and societies all over the planet. She further emphasized that a unidimensional approach, focused exclusively on operational or political measures cannot produce long-term results, and a strong, cohesive national narrative is the need of the time. Senator Kamran highlighted the innumerable sacrifices made by Pakistan in both physical and financial terms, and commended the Pakistan army for taking the lead in the fight against violent extremism through 12 mega-operations. She said we must remain vigilant of the dangers posed by external factors.
Ambassador (R) Akram Zaki stated that terrorism has become a global phenomenon through the ‘War on Terrorism’. He discussed the various drivers and phases which have contributed in exacerbating contemporary security challenges and threats. Ambassador (R) Zaki articulated that radicalization was essentially the result of non-adjustment in the society.
Professor Andrea Margelletti, heading the three member Italian delegation from CeSI expressed his trust in Pakistan’s resolve to fight terrorism. He said it is important to identify the vested interests behind various terrorist activities and groups, emphasizing on the need to look both inward and outward when developing a plan to counter the menace posed by radicalization, and highlighted that it was only by setting one’s own house in order that positive change could occur on the larger scale.
The first speaker was a Research Associate from CPGS, Mr Muhammad Suleman, who discussed ‘Dimensions and Drivers of Violent Extremism in Punjab’. He explored the core aspects of violent extremism in Punjab, the narrative of violent extremist organizations, and highlighted the emerging challenges posed to the region, especially in the form of ISIS: Khurasan Chapter.
The second speaker was also a Research Associate from CPGS, Ms Ifrah Waqar. She presented the Countering Violent Extremism (CVE) Initiatives in Pakistan and a Review of the Implementation of the National Action Plan. She highlighted how only a few of the NAP’s unanimously adopted measures following the APS massacre were implemented in true letter and spirit, and arguing how lack of political will had unfortunately turned NAP into a responsibility no one wants. She concluded that under the current political climate, and at brink of next year’s election, not much progress could realistically be expected on the implementation of NAP.
Former NACTA Coordinator Mr Hamid Ali Khan, while expressing his views, highlighted the different aspects of NAP andspoke in detail about the working of NACTA. He stated that NAP has successfully managed to reduce the rate of terrorism and crime in the country.