De-Radicalization of extremism in Pakistan

By: Muhammad Rizwan Bhatti

The De-radicalization process demands credibility, sustainability, legitimacy and prowess of mandate to address the political, ideological and cultural sensitivities that are the bedrock of De-radicalization process.

The mindless religiosity blurs the conscious thinking. The narrative signifies a lot. The militants allure the common citizens with bewitching slogans about glorification Islamic renaissance. Militants and extremists use catchy phrases couch in emotional underpinnings like victimhood, Muslim’s genocide at the hands of infidels and establishment of Sharia and Islamic Caliphate. It’s the awful duty of state to build counter narrative to mend the aberrant extremist views.  De-radicalization is used to refer to programmes that are predominantly directed against individuals who have become radical with the aim of re-integrating them into society or at least dissuading them from violence. It involves both cognitive and behavioral aspects. De-radicalization is the psychic-social readjustment of incarcerated repentant individuals.

Rehabilitation is awfully necessary to rectify the skewed situation of militancy. It has become indispensable to dispel flawed notions of Islam allowing violence and terrorism. For the success of the De-radicalization process, the national narrative is a potent need to embrace pluralism and secularism warranting having decisions about political, social and religious without fear and persecution. The concerned authorities require elevating their focus on high risk militants and high level facilitators. The rehabilitation of high risk militants increases the credibility of De-radicalization measures.

Swat De-Radicalization Model is a magnum opus to fight against extremism and efforts to rehabilitate the militants. The flip side of this model is mainly its predominant focus on Low-cadre extremists. The present security scenario warrants complete denunciation of extremism and militancy in all its forms and manifestations. The focus should be diverted to mid-level and top level leadership of militant organizations to impair the ideological underpinnings and to discredit the narrative of miscreants. When we examine the militant landscape of our country, we come to the conclusion that the mid-level cadre is more prone towards radicalization as more vulnerable to political and ideological exploitations.

The rehabilitation efforts done by Counter terrorism department with the collaboration of TEVTA have not been continued which help in growing militancy without let and hindrance. Swat Model should be replicated with revamped framework redressing the ideological aggrandizement and pooling the financial constraints. For effective De-radicalization drive, the civil administration should come forward and yolk the responsibility. The precedents reflect that the countries who claim success in De-radicalization endeavours predicated on the initiation of political Government and buttressed on political will. The Civilian administration implemented the vision of political Government.

The De-radicalization process demands credibility, sustainability, legitimacy and prowess of mandate to address the political, ideological and cultural sensitivities that are the bedrock of De-radicalization process. Homeland security requires a holistic approach to address the grievances of aggrieved groups. The drivers of radicalisation need to be countered up to the hilt.  There are many international de-radicalization and rehabilitation programs. Saudi Arabia has started a successful program by the name of ‘Prevention, Rehabilitation, and Aftercare Programs (PRAC)’. Indonesia’s program focused on changing the ideologies of imprisoned terrorists through the use of repentant jihadis and co-opted terrorists approaching in jails with counseling. In Turkey, Social Outreach Program of Counter Terrorism Department is also a success story. The Saudi and Singaporean rehabilitation programmes both emphasize on the situation of detained militants and their kith and kin. Both programmes invoke awareness among the population and accentuate the significance of young people as they are more vulnerable to extremist indoctrination.

Special focus on modern electronic amenities need to be taken on board as the internet has become a major source to radicalize society by exploiting the fault lines present in religious interpretations. Yemini rehabilitation programmes engage moderate religious clerics to counter the militant’s rhetoric. Stringent follow up of the released deradicalized militants is awfully necessary. The host community must be sensitized about the rigours of militants and help society embracing the reformed militants as normal and respected citizens. Religious dialogue is imperative to counter radical ideologies and disinfect the militants from extremist underpinnings. After-care programme as implemented in Saudi-Arabia is linchpin for the accomplishment of de-radicalization process.  Therefore, it is imperative to start a de-radicalization program in Pakistan.

De-radicalization is a soft approach to fight against terrorism without contravention to fundamental human rights. This is a cost effective option. Pakistan needs to invest more for giving incentives and a conducive environment to receptive detained militants and radicalized elements within the society. The reforms in prisons help reduce radicalism. The prisoners should be given proper education, food and lodging facilities. The correctional lectures are delivered to them in order to soothe their agonies and yield a positive dividend in terms of de-radicalization. They should have access to watch television and read newspapers. The Police department and penitentiary facilities should be closely associated for better and smooth process of de-radicalization. Tangible measures requires to be taken to fight against extremism ensconced in society through establishing rehabilitation centers, dismantling the terrorist’s communication networks, curbing terrorism advertisement through internet and implementation of National Action Plan in letter and spirit.

The writer is a Ph.D Scholar in Political Science & International Relations. He can be reached at [email protected]