Islamabad: Admitting that terrorism and radicalisation have isolated Pakistan globally, the country’s major political parties have pledged to combat the scourges if they are voted to power in the July 25 general election. In their manifestos, the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) and the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) have identified terrorism, radicalisation and extremism as the bane of the country.
They also promised to reform the education in thousands of madrassas (Islamic seminaries) spread across the Muslim-majority nation. The United States, India and Afghanistan have been pressing Islamabad to stop providing safe havens to terror groups operating in the country.
Imran Khan-led PTI in its manifesto released yesterday said, it recognises the scourge of terrorism and its devastating effect on Pakistan and its citizens not only in terms of the massive loss of Pakistani lives but also in a once tolerant society becoming polarised into intolerance, fear and hate.
“The PTI stands committed to restoring the spirit of tolerance and acceptance amongst all the citizens of Pakistan,” it said. The cricketer-turned-politician’s party, which seems to have the backing of the powerful military, says it will try to educate the population through developing a counter ideological narrative by co-opting religious scholars.
A a counter narrative is critical because militants need social space for their existence and growth. In their minds they see themselves as law enforcers, administrators, teachers and justice providers. “Having gained social space, they seek out physical space and as governance weakens they become stronger. So it is critical for the state to reclaim social space along with physical space,” it says.
The PTI will also focus on restructuring syllabi and main-streaming the madrassas by providing them with proper educational facilities.
To ensure success of the party’s counter terrorism strategy, immediate steps will be taken to reform the criminal judicial system and revise the anti-terror laws so that it is precise and focused on terrorism, the manifesto says. Further, it says the party will not allow Pakistan’s territory or people, including its armed forces, to be used by any other nation for the promotion of its political ideology or hegemony, for promoting terrorism or for destabilisation of any other state.
The PPP in its manifesto released last week noted that despite all its sacrifices in the struggle against terrorism, Pakistan remains isolated in the global community, unable to project a positive image.
“Despite our losses and sacrifices in the war against terror, we are often seen as a problem,” the manifesto says.
“This drift must stop. We must get the government on a track that is modelled on serving the people,” the party led by Bilawal Bhutto Zardari says. It says that if returned to power, the party will ensure that the large swathes of territory that have been wrested from the control of terrorists in the unruly tribal areas will not backslide into ungoverned spaces.
Under a PPP government, the manifesto says, there will be no accommodation for terrorist groups, their backers and financiers, or sympathisers.
“We will implement a comprehensive security strategy to prevent attacks on major urban centres in tandem with targeted military operations against all militant and terrorist outfits that challenge the writ of the state,” the party says. The manifesto of the PML-N of ousted Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif says the party would ensure proper registration of the madrassas through a system mutually agreed by all.
Further, subjects like mathematics, computers, physics, chemistry, economics, phycology etc. need to be made part of curricula of the madrassas in consultation with central authorities of various denominations.
The party noted that when the PML-N government took office in 2013, the security situation of the country was in “serious jeopardy”, marred with terrorism, sectarian violence and crime. “A sharp surge in the number and severity of militant attacks was witnessed, causing the loss of more than 2,000 precious lives and rendering more than 3,500 individuals injured,” the manifesto points out.
In the past five years, the PML-N-led government has been successful in steering Pakistan to combat terrorism, weed out militancy and contain the threat of radicalism, it says.
If voted back to power in the July 25 election, the party said it hopes to adopt a multi-dimensional and holistic approach towards security. “PML-N aims to develop mechanisms to defeat extremism, eliminate terrorism, build an impervious defence and create a shared vision of peace and prosperity across all stakeholders,” the manifesto says, adding that the party is committed to protecting Pakistan from all possible vagaries of the future.”