The scourge of extremism has long plagued Pakistan. Successive governments have sought to whitewash the issue or set up commissions or organizations to come up solutions, none of which have worked because there has been an unwillingness to come up with an all encompassing strategy.
Just recently the Imran Khan government decided to set up a commission “for implementation of national narrative and development of structures against violent extremism and radicalisation.” The primary objectives of the commission are “(i) providing a legal mechanism to curb violent extremism; (ii) enforcing national narratives and policies in line with the National Action Plan (NAP); (iii) establishing a policy review board under the commission to coordinate with ministries, government departments and academia; (iv) establishing a centre of excellence to conduct degree and diploma courses in CVE and CT; (v) establishing a national facility to design and implement strategies in deradicalisation, rehabilitation, and psychological and religious counselling of prisoners and detainees involved in terrorism; (vi) prohibiting offences related to VE and sectarianism; (vii) preparing deradicalisation modules, strategies and vocational training programmes for suspected terrorists and extremists; and (viii) promoting awareness through print and electronic media, publications, seminars, conferences, etc.”
However, as Tariq Khosa, Director of the National Initiative Against Organized Crime, notes in a recent oped, “Extremism must be addressed through policies that include strategies and action plans, clarity on CVE laws, and national consensus on narratives.” In his oped he refers to earlier policies that sought to set up similar commissions but failed because they ended up being ‘all word and no action.’
According to Khosa, the government already has extensive CVE policy guidelines since 2018, through the National Internal Security Policy (NISP 2014-18) under which NACTA “identified the drivers of extremism and covered areas such as the rule of law, service delivery, media engagement, education policy, promotion of culture and the four ‘R’s: reformation, rehabilitation, reintegration and renunciation strategies.”
In the end Khosa notes that “Setting up a CVE commission is a good idea. However, I urge policymakers to pay heed to the words of Edith Wharton: “True originality consists not in a new manner but in a new vision.””