De-Radicalization can enhance Pakistan’s Social Fabric

Bringing back those who were misled

Radicalization has emerged as one of the biggest global challenges faced by all societies of the world with the inclusion of Pakistan. It is obvious that poverty, low quality education, social injustice and intolerance towards other religions have multiplied the issue of Radicalization.  It is obvious that any country plagued with radicalization gets weaker from the inside, hence dealing with the issue of radicalization is of paramount importance. One of the repercussions of the Soviet – Afghan war was that Pakistan is still facing is radicalization and extremism. The long Soviet –Afghan war ended with the emergence of groups like Al-Qaeda and Taliban with hundreds of warriors initially aimed at fighting the infidels. Unfortunately, the wave of extremism misled many Pakistani children and young men to take the path to violence and bomb and maim their fellow citizens. However, the successful military operations carried out against terrorists during the past years have instilled hope in the society. It seems impossible to imagine that a young terrorist indoctrinated with extremist views could ever become a useful member of the society. Pakistan has a large youth population between the ages 15 -24 which could be vulnerable to the terrorism industry as it subsists on manpower. Consequently, youngsters are often indoctrinated by terrorists to blow themselves in public places. Pakistan army during its successful military operations has given the young captured terrorists the opportunity to relive their lives by establishing de-radicalization centers. “Sabawoon”, a de-radicalization and rehabilitation center established in 2009 is entirely supervised by the military but involves the contributions of local bodies and NGO’s.  “Mishal” is another successful program that is not only aimed at de-radicalizing the adult detainees in Swat but also extends support to their family members.  There are several de-radicalization centers currently running in Pakistan particularly in Punjab aimed at once again, making these “lost souls” useful members of the society.

The changing dynamics of terrorism suggest that in some cases, highly educated youth seems to be moving towards the dangerous path of radicalization.  Noreen Jabbar Legahri, a young student of Medical University Jamshoroo is an example of how social media can be used to entice urban educated youth with radical views. Therefore, in order to address the issue of terrorism, a shift in policy by adopting the approach of de-radicalization is needed.

 It has been witnessed that terrorism and insurgency cannot be wiped out at the grass root level through drone attacks and by adopting harsher policies. It seems obvious that de-radicalization and rehabilitation centers had previously been the missing components in Pakistan’s policy towards terrorists. De-radicalization has proved fruitful not only in Pakistan but in other parts of the world. Sri Lanka, by adopting de-radicalization program has been able to de radicalize and reintegrate a large number of young people in the society.

 A lot of precious Pakistani lives and many others around the world have been lost owing to the menace of terrorism during the past many years. Transforming the society by de-radicalized youngsters who were previously misled by doctrines of hatred and violence can certainly bring about a good change in the society and will change the world for the better. We are in a dire need of a tolerant and peaceful world.

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