Iqbal says finger pointing will obtain nothing

By Staff Reporter
Thursday – April 19, 2018
ISLAMABAD: Interior minister Ahsan Iqbal on Wednesday observed that at a time when global challenges like climate change, terrorism, extremism, inequalities were staring us in the face in an ever-connected world, global politics has become fractured and dysfunctional, and that there is a need for collaborative and accommodative efforts, rather than finger pointing.

According to an official statement, he was addressing a panel discussion on countering violent extremism (CVE) at the foreign and commonwealth office in London, United Kingdom (UK), on the side-lines of the commonwealth heads of government meeting (CHOGM) 2018.

Iqbal stressed that any effective policy to counter violent extremism will require a comprehensive approach based on an objective and considerate understanding of both internal and external root causes of the rising extremism in the world, including unresolved international disputes, negative and stereotyping media campaigns against communities, religions and nations.

He pointed out that it is the prejudice and a sense of injustice and hopelessness, coupled with lack of engagement and understanding plus lack of peaceful alternatives, that are driving impressionable individuals into the folds of violent extremism and terrorism.

Extremism and terrorism can never be defeated unless there is an understanding of why and how it spreads, Iqbal stressed.

Briefing the participants about Pakistan’s journey from being the victim of terror and extremism to a victor, he highlighted the commitment and sacrifices of Pakistani nation in the fight against terrorism.

Iqbal said I am proud to stand as part of Pakistani nation, which has shown unshakable courage and determination in defeating the terrorists.

He reminded, “Pakistan is facing legacy of Soviet war in Afghanistan alone” lashing “The western countries walked away after Soviet withdrawal leaving behind burden of millions of refugees, drugs and Kalashnikovs” adding “Pakistan has faced these challenges single handedly and in the process paid a big price.”

“We don’t need assistance, we need understanding from western countries,” Iqbal asserted and highlighted strategic, legislative and tactical measures, the government has taken in the last four years to push back and neutralise terrorist organisations.

Speaking of measures undertaken by Pakistan, he briefed the participants about the national action plan (NAP) and the practical steps taken by the government to counter terrorists, violent extremist elements including curbing activities of proscribed organisations through operations against militants in settled and tribal areas by destroying their infrastructure, training facilities and networks; complete ban on glorification of terrorists and terrorism on media that includes print, electronic and social; steps against religious persecution; relentless intelligence based operations (IBOs) against sympathisers and supporters of extremism; crackdown against hate speeches and material through national counter terrorism authority’s (NACTA) chaukas app; crackdown on finances of proscribed organisations and freezing of their accounts; Pakistan telecommunications authority’s (PTA) closure of websites of all proscribed organisations; registration of cases against people involved in disseminating messages of hatred and violence; and monitoring of proscribed individuals/ groups, and travel ban on them.

On the narrative side, Iqbal said the government through its national counter extremism policy guidelines (NCEPG) has devised and formulated a comprehensive policy which looks beyond narrow concept of security and includes aspects related to: rule of law and service delivery (criminal justice system); citizen and youth engagement; media engagement; coordinating responses beyond silos (apex committees); community policing; integrated education reform; reformation, rehabilitation, reintegration, and renunciation; promotion of culture and arts; and finally, recognising regional and global context.

At the end, he reiterated that Pakistan has already geared up for a grand strategy for preventing and countering violent extremism to defeat forces of hatred and violence and reiterated that the founder of the nation, Quaid-e-Azam Mohammed Ali Jinnah gave us a clear vision for an inclusive and harmonious society.

“We want to give our next generation peace and stability for economic development” asserting “Pakistan will be happy to share its experiences of success as well as learn from others,” interior minister Iqbal concluded.