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Update 18 May 2017, 1105 hrs

The follow up speakers include Dr. Shoaib Saddal, Prof Ahmed Rafique Akhter, Ms Harem Zafar (Student), Dr Farrukh Saleem, Dr Mukhtar (Chairman HEC) and Ghazi Salah-Ud-Din with COAS giving the key note address.



Opening Address of COAS


It is a matter of great honour and privilege for me to speak to you today on a topic of great importance. In the first place, my compliments to the organizers for arranging this successful event at a short notice. My special thanks to the speakers for their excellent presentations and valuable inputs.

Now I will give you my take on the subject.

Ladies and Gentlemen!

We as a Nation, have fought the menace of terrorism most valiantly, giving unparalleled sacrifices. Our Armed forces have set an example for the whole world in cleansing these barbarians from their potholes. Our success is acknowledged the world over.

I am grateful to Almighty ALLAH for bestowing this honour and pride on me to command such a brave, professional and dedicated Army and I have no hesitation in saying that ours is the best Army in the world.

It would not have been possible without your support. Each one of you was on our back. I want to appreciate every segment of the society, especially our LEAs and the media, for their consistent support in helping us cutting these monsters to their size.

Today, we are at the most critical phase of our war against terror. As we transit gradually from major operations against terrorism to more intricate, targeted operations against residual threat, under the ambit of Operation Rad-ul-Fasaad, we must also find ways to ensure that the causes behind terrorism are addressed and National Action Plan is actualized.

Foremost amongst them is extremism. Please remember, while Army fights terrorists, terrorism and extremism is fought by law enforcing agencies and society.

Ladies and Gentlemen!

Pakistan is a young Nation, both in historic and demographic terms. Demographically, over 50% of our population is projected to be less than 25 years of age. The future of our country literally lies with the direction that our youth take over the next few years.

We are standing at a crossroads; ten year down the line, we will either be enjoying the fruits of a youth dividend or suffering at the hands of a youth bulge, especially with the youth which remains vulnerable to extremism.

Extremism is a relative term. It is relative to our perception of what is ‘normal’. Therefore, we will only have a clear concept of extremism if we have a clear concept of our own identity and values. A youth driven towards extremism is a youth without a clear idea of his values and identity.

Most important stimulus driving a young adult, is to find purpose and meaning in life. It is during this stage that one is ready to commit; to professions, to relationships, to causes and to ideologies. It is a wonderful stage in life; but it is also the most vulnerable.


Ladies and Gentlemen!

The term ‘extremism’ is often unjustly applied to devout sections of Muslim societies, alienating them in the process.

Although it is not always out of malice, but misunderstanding; yet it is imperative that we understand extremism in our own context

        The Western definitions of Countering Violent Extremism are mostly confined to what they call ‘Islamic extremism’

It is unfair and dangerous. Unfair, because of its inherent and totally wrong association of extremism with Islam. Dangerous, because it focuses too much attention on Muslim societies and masks the rise of extremism in multiple societies across the world.

Just next door, India seems to have given in to extremism to such an extent that it has become the new normal. Hate has been mainstreamed in India and it is distorting there national outlook.

The Hindutva extremism of the RSS and their GaoRakshaks, deprivation of Palestinians, the burning and desecration of mosques or gurdwaras in western capitals, the rise of hyper nationalists and the monster of racism, are all manifestations of extremism. We can easily say, it is emerging as a transnational phenomenon hence warranting a transnational, unified response.

Extremism is not due to any religion or ideology, it is a mindset where passion has given way to hate and intolerance of others.

Ladies and Gentlemen!

Extremism is also related to the environment and the time we live in. From that perspective, we must admit that  Pakistani youth is getting exploited due to poor governance and lack of justice in the society. The whole Muslim world seems to be on fire. The country seems threatened from multiple directions. It just does not seem fair.

Our challenges are very real but there are positive sides to the picture as well. Not only have we survived the worst onslaught of terrorism in modern history, we have reversed the tide. In fact, security has now achieved conditions to help development take off.

Despite incessant propaganda, the fact is that as a Nation, Pakistan has rejected terrorism. That speaks of the robustness of our social and religious values and I have no doubt that we equally reject extremism in all its manifestations.

The first ever PSL Cricket Final at Lahore and celebration of 23rd March with three foreign contingents, has shown that our spirit is unbreakable and no one can isolate us.

Youth are taking part in political discourse in unprecedented numbers and are active in the social arena as well. They are winning accolades for academic achievements abroad.

Whether it is the record of youngest achievers, maximum number of straight As or a global technology competition, our youth stand out and make us all proud.

We have organized today’s event to find collective solutions against extremism which affects everyone of us, including our most precious asset, our youth. We, the entire nation, including the parents of these young students expect them not only to be educated but groomed into balanced personalities, productive citizens and future leaders. With the intellect, skills and the talent that they have, we are sure that they will be able to do wonders for Pakistan in every field.

With Pakistan becoming securer and promising by the day, it is perhaps time to reverse brain drain. Your country needs you more than any other country in the world.

Ladies and Gentlemen!

Our enemies, both state and non-state, are actively pursuing divisive tendencies in society. Let me say that they are waging the biggest and most sustained Hybrid War against us from multiple directions and using multiple ways.

We are being targeted by not only terrorists but also spin masters of multiple hostile agencies, trying to subvert our minds, particularly that of our youth. Being denied opportunities in the mainstream media, they are using faceless platforms on the internet and smart phones.

It does not give me pleasure to say that they are being helped actively in their cause by some countries. Indian Leadership has made no secret of his active involvement in proxy struggle in erstwhile East Pakistan and now in Balochistan; nor are the assertions of some other leaders, any more secret.

We are cognizant of these threats and are actively countering them with the support of the whole Nation. In fact, our homes, educational institutions and media houses are the first line of defence against extremism in the society. When I say educational institutions, they include schools, madrassahs and even institutes of higher learning.

Please remember, we have defeated terrorism together, now we will go after extremism too and rout it with our values, mental faculties and physical energies.

Pakistan has done well in denying terrorists of all hues and colours, any foot hold in our territory. We have ensured the writ of State in the farthest and remotest corners of the country. Today there are no safe havens for any miscreants in Pakistan.

We are actively taking measure to ensure that even residual presence does not use Pakistan’s soil against any country, nor will we tolerate others doing so against us.

Having defeated terrorism physically, now their deceitful message and narrative must also be defeated  .

These so called Muslims, have nothing to do with Islam. They are just a bunch of thugs and killers led by their greed and evil ideologues

If you ever ask them why they are laying Muslim lands to waste, they will tell you that they are only doing it for reform. Yet that is precisely what Quran says about the miscreants or Fasadis in Surah e Baqra,“and when it is said unto them, do not cause fasad on the earth, they say, we are but reformers”.

They have realized that through ballot they cannot achieve power but through violence they can, therefore coercion, fear and destruction are their tools of choice. If you strip away the guile and verbosity, what they say amounts to stopping the fire by lighting more fire.

Islam is not hostage to a specific form of government, a specific set of laws or a particular interpretation. It is a grand framework for whole humanity that can thrive in any system and any society.

Ladies and Gentlemen!

The ultimate objective of any religion is to teach you how to live a good life, not how to die a destructive death – glory comes in pursuit of the end towards a good society, not as an end in itself. Islam expects you to enjoin what is right and forbid what is wrong. That is all as far as your social responsibility is concerned.

You cannot impose your views on anyone. La Ikraha fiddeen. There is no compulsion in religion. There is no legitimate force less the force of the State.

Therefore, let’s reduce violence from our society so that we are able to rebuild Pakistan. The world is moving ahead and we cannot afford to be left behind.

Let’s join hands to counter extremism by providing ideal environment in your respective institutions and through diligence and discipline. Let’s help each other in identifying, curtailing and defeating any attempts to pollute the minds of our youth.

I thank you for a very patient hearing. Pakistan Paindabaad.

 Update 18 May 2017, 1100 hrs

Opening Address of DG ISPR at Seminar "Role of Youth in Rejecting Extremism"

Bismillah ar Rehman nir Raheem

Honorable Chairman HEC, Gen officers, speakers of the
Seminar, VCs, faculty members, students, officers, ladies and gentleman, and importantly my colleagues from media AOA.
I stand very privileged here today as your host to welcome you on this Seminar” Role of Youth in Rejecting Extremism” as part of our on going op RuF.

As you know ladies and gentleman op RuF is aimed at consolidating gains of all mil ops earlier concluded in Kinetic domain and to bring about an enduring peace and stability. One of its strands is to eliminate extremism from our society. The requirement becomes more pronounced when we see that the nature and character of this conflict has also changed with ideology of ISIS which focuses on targeting minds of our youth.

Ladies and Gentlemen It is our collective duty as ‘state’ and individual duty in our respective domain to shield our youth against this threat. The process involves identification of threat and response measures. Please know that amongst others, we owe our achievements in on going operations to the youth. Of all the sacrifices made by uniformed Pakistanis 90 percent contributions are by our youth i.e young soldiers and officers. Let us not allow their supreme sacrifice to go waste and convert our achievements into an enduring success. During the course of this Seminar, we intend to have full spectrum analysis of phenomena of extremism: what is the threat and its fault lines? How students view it? How does it look like from prism of religion and economy and also to suggest response including role of our education institutions and society. Towards the end of the Seminar, before the keynote address by the Army Chief, we look forward to some very healthy and productive interactive session between speakers and the guests. I would particularly request the youth to express their opinions freely and ask any question that may be there in your minds. I sincerely believe that it is only through free exchange of ideas and courage to differ that the dream of truly tolerant Pakistan can be realized.

In the end, let me thank you all ladies and gentlemen for your presence. Our thanks to speakers for sparing time and special thanks to chairman HEC, Dr Mukhtar Ahmed for helping us in organizing the event.

Thank you very much.


Direct economic cost due to extremism-related terrorist incidents since 2003 has been colossal – estimated at over US$120 billion (Rs. 12.7 trillion).

Pakistan’s extremism-related fault lines include terrorism, sectarianism, regionalism, sub-nationalism, and ethnic militancy. The triggers for extremism are provided internally as well as externally. Externally, international power games, geopolitics of the region, proxy wars through non-state actors and clashing economic interests of countries provide essential fodder to the cause of extremism. No wonder that RAW, NDS and several hostile and interested foreign agencies have over time become principle sponsors of instability and violent extremism in Pakistan.

Internally, there are reportedly around 237 religious groups operating in Pakistan. These include 24 religious parties, 82 sectarian groups, 104 jihadi groups, and 12 who denounce even Pakistan’s Constitution. Clan-based politics, breakdown of critical state institutions, poor governance, poor quality rule of law, broke and politicized policing, fragmented criminal justice system, predatory behaviour of the political elite, weak civil society, inadequate institutional capacity, and ineffective accountability mechanism are some of the major factors promoting the state’s failure to effectively deal with the dinosaur of extremism.

The first ever National Internal Security Policy (NIS), 2014-2018, was introduced in Parliament on 26 February 2014. Based upon principles of mutual inclusiveness and integration of all national efforts, its vision was to “create a safe environment where life, property, civil liberties and socio-economic rights are protected and.... they are able to live and prosper in harmony, freedom respect and dignity.” In his historic speech before the first Constituent Assembly of Pakistan, the Father of Nation alluded to most of these aspects and urged the nation to nip to rise to the occasion. Unfortunately successive governments did not pay any heed to Quaid’s words, rather they nurtured all the debilitations for petty political gains and myopic objectives. However, nothing much came out of NISP.

Our Constitutional framework and the politics and institutional architecture of internal security has also meant that Pakistan’s emergence as stable, modern state continues to be hemorrhaged. Reverting back to ‘B’ Area system in Balochistan and the repeal of Police Order 2002 in Sindh and Balochistan, in the aftermath of 18th Constitutional Amendment are examples of how short-sighted and self-centered our political elite is. The persisting pattern of recourse to ad hoc structures out the existence of gaping holes in internal security institutional structures and capacity. We are also unable to deny support to particular religious sects from foreign countries like Iran and Saudi Arabia, even outside support to ethnic groups from countries like India, Afghanistan and Iran. Al-Qaida, Islamic State, East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM), Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU), Jundallah, are examples of extremist religious outfits that have continue to wreck peace and stability in Pakistan.

Let it be clear that we cannot hope to establish the writ of the state and protect the people from internal threats unless we are able to protect the life, property and fundamental rights of citizens, promote pluralism, freedom, democracy and a culture of tolerance, prevent, deter and contain internal threats in a transparent, accountable and just manner, and resolve manage disputes peacefully without compromising the rule of law. Any anti-extremism strategy would remain elusive without aligning of local, regional and national efforts and oversight mechanisms.

A turning point in national resolve vis-à-vis NISP came in December 20147, in the wake of massacre of 150 people, including 132 children, at the Army Public School, Peshawar. However, the lackluster implementation of NAP has meant that the desired outcomes continue to remain elusive. The challenge of effective implementation of NISP serves to identify a host of cross-cutting inextricably interconnected paradigmatic issues that have long discernibly shaped the mode and practice of Pakistan’s internal security policy.

Way Forward
Institutional structural reform has to be a priority point on the internal security agenda, meriting allocation of adequate political and financial resources. It is also imperative to enhance civil-military understanding at different levels – strategic, operational and tactical.

NACTA needs to be re-institutionalized as an integral adjunct of Ministry of Interior, with its head – National Coordinator – included as member of the NSC. As implementation of NAP has remained unsatisfactory, it has adversely affected the consolidation phase of Operation Zarb-i-Azab, a major reason for this creeping paralysis being the Constitutional ambiguity. Operation Radd ul Fasaad launched on 22 Feb 2017, the latest military plan to fight terror, can give better results through a holistic approach and more effectively integrated counterterrorism and counter violent extremism strategy. More critically, the nature and extent of non-state violence in recent years has lent additional urgency to the task of maintaining a professional, well-resourced and well-equipped police force. The knee-jerk repeal of Police Order 2002 by Sindh and Balochistan – in sheer violation of Article 143 of the Constitution has led to further fragmentation of policing effort and hence requires to be undone. All ‘B’ areas and FATAs need to be mainstreamed. Building Police Judiciary as basic institution of Rule of Law is an urgent necessity. The more credible and less ineffective the criminal justice system, the better the state of internal security. We firmly need to target those providing financial and logistical support to extremists. We need to strengthen governance by de-politicising state institutions, and promoting plural and tolerant middle class values in society. We must take effective measures to address debilitating internal security situation due to widespread corruption, to alleviate extreme poverty by developing human and social capital. We need to advise an astute CVE strategy that takes into account the reasons why people turn to extremism, and, as far as possible, attempts to address those reasons. Kinetic power can kill terrorists, not terrorism. Our greatest fault line, in my view, is the state’s failure to deliver justice.

Before I conclude, and without in any way impinging upon what Dr. Mukhtar has to say on the role of universities in preventing extremism and countering violent extremism, let me say that our criminal justice system needs new ideas which can only come through higher education and local research. I would like to urge vice chancellors to promote the subject of criminology in their respective universities. This has been my lifelong passion and I sincerely believe that by developing the talent and innovative research capacity of students, the universities can become the harbingers of ideas that work, to meet the daunting social challenges we are confronted with.

As a follow-up of today’s meeting, there is need to form a working group to come up with detailed proposals on necessary tools required to deal with the menace of extremism, on the basis of a need assessment done for each university. Those not represented on the group but willing to get engaged in this effort may write to the group through email. Also, depending on the threat perception, a security set up headed by chief security officer of appropriate rand and background, from police or military, may be appropriately provided in each university. The working group will also propose additional resources to be provided to universities and respective police forces to adequately deal with the challenge at hand, particularly to disrupt radicalisers and support vulnerable students at a local level. There is need for the police enter into an ongoing cooperative relationship with staff and students in universities. Universities further need to promote higher education and local research in the field of criminology, particularly in how individuals are driven to extremism, what enables extremism to flourish, and how they can do more to promote inclusiveness, tolerance and cohesion. HEC in 2012 issued guidance for vice chancellor to introduce the subject of criminology in their respective universities. What I did in 1995 for starting the MSc criminology classes in Karachi University, and more recently in Peshawar University, I’m prepared to do for every university, and let me assure you on gratis basis. Separate scholarships for criminology under HEC’s faculty development programme (agreed by HEC and announced by NUST in 2015) will indeed be a welcome step for the promotion of quality instruction and research in this newly established field. A Centre of Excellence of Criminal Justice Studies, as a standard setter, also needs sponsorship of the HEC. A Council of Anti-Extremism Practitioners at national level and in each province - for overseeing implementation of soft measures – can act as a ‘one-stop shop’ for all efforts in this area.

Ms. Hareem

Extremism – Student’s Perspective

It will not shock me if they call knowledge as ignorance, reason as superstition, and light as darkness; but when they call the afterlife a bed of roses attained only by blowing one’s self up, I am filled with terror. The fact that there runs a risk of many students being radicalized now-a-days at the hands of these seemingly-beautiful but extremely dangerous ideas needs our serious attention. Because our enemy is not Christian, Muslim, or Judaism-our enemy is Extremism. Let’s start with something real and face this monstrous reality!

Benazir Bhutto once said:

“Extremism can flourish only in an environment where basic governmental social responsibility for the welfare of the people is neglected. Political dictatorship and social hopelessness creates the desperation that forces extremism”.

Let me ask you why we have gathered here. Your instant answer would be to discuss extremism but what if I say that is not the case solely. We have gathered here because we have doubts!!

Doubts of how come our universities started producing mob instead of masters and scholars, doubts of how come our doctors are becoming bombers, how come our businessmen are becoming extremists, and doubts of whether it is all dark and dim, or light at the tunnel? Are we failing somewhere in our universities? Then. yes we are.

However, let me declare with the loudest tone of the trumpet that I am neither a cynic nor a pessimist. I as a representative of student’s voice across the nation stand firm against extremism and terrorism today. I have no doubts, I do not doubt my green passport and I take pride in the blood that I share with you all, a blood green and white-called Pakistan.

In the view of the present case scenario of the country, shan’t we discuss why we have come to this breaking point of lava eruption that we had to sit and discuss student’s perspective on extremism? In the very root cause of it we have to discuss three points: System of Education, Parenting and The Role of Youth itself.

I hail from Islamia College Peshawar- the one you see on the back of 1000 rupee note-and I would tell you few of the anecdotes to point out where the real damage has been done. My teacher once told me that back in 1970’s and 80’ there used to be a cinema in Peshawar University where these boys would go to watch a movie now and the. My father also told me that these doctors from Khyber Medical College-both females and males-would set up a fun fair in the campus and the profit would then be dedicated to charity. Also see for yourself the purana Pakistan where in 1950’s you would see Queen Elizabeth on the roads of Karachi.

Then why am I seeing my counterparts standing in a mob lynching an innocent man, why am I seeing a doctor being radicalized, why am I failing. I see this whole scenario differently, the roots where we are failing are many and we need to see in each of it.

How many sports gala, fun fairs, declamation contest, and theatre played do you see now-a-days?

Few right? But how many such activities have you heard of that were held in KP, Baluchistan, FATA, Southern Punjab and Sindh. Have you ever heard “A played name peace and Pakistan-Synonyms was staged in Mardan, Quetta, Peshawar or Waziristan” ? No, you didn’t. Have you heard any All-Pakistan Declamation Contest held in FATA, or Southern Punjab or Mastoong?. No you didn’t. How many foreigners you see in Qissa Khawani bazar? None! What does it show? When a young blood of 21 or 22 will not have his energies channeled towards positives activities, he will automatically divert it into negatives because a very simple rule: an empty mind is devil’s workshop. If positive energies are not inculcated then how came we expect to receive them? Where would we learn to debate, discuss and discover? Where shall we learn critically, and where shall we learn to win and lose gracefully if no platform is available.

Furthermore, you see the higher level of intolerance. The depressed and violent behaviors are increasing. Whey? Let us count how many sports grounds and complexes do we have and where are the theaters, the arts, the music, the literature, the colors, the poets. How many Ghani Khan, Iqbal and Bhullay shah we have produced? None!

I asked a student of a university, recently in limelight, that what you do in university? She said nothing but study and that too not from books or library but notes Photostatted repeatedly over years. And in this lies the very answer to ever-increasing extremist behaviors. No real knowledge and positive activities is equal to easy target to radicalization. Remember, art and film is a huge platform for educating youth but if our film industry is going to promote gandara culture, and then we need to seriously think where we are moving.

Not only these activities have faded but political grooming a student diminished. I am sure you must all remember in Pakistan back in 1970’s we used to have student unions in our universities which were afterwards banned. Unions like these are present all over the world for politically mature growth of young minds, so that their students have a platform to express their views peaceful and participate in curricular as well as extra-curricular. Even our first female PM Benazir Bhutto was the president of oxford student union in 1977. Locally, these unions gave us mature politicians such as Ahsan Iqbal, Liaqat Baloch, Mian Iftikhar Hussain and few others. After the ban on such unions, what you see is a political product called gullu butt which leads to nothing but mere extremist behavior. Sir, we need to understand one thing that a student at an age of 20,21 or 22 has young blood and fiery thoughts. There ideas, thoughts and opinions build up a pressure- cooker inside them and if not provided an outlet, this pressures can burst in one place or other damaging people around them.

Back in 2014, when I was to enter the university, my mother who had tears in her eyes said: “Beta Kabhi university ki politics main hissa mat laina.” She, for sure was afraid I might be hurt, betrayed, or even killed. But I wish differently. I wish she had told me: beta stand for what is right, learn to differentiate between right and wrong and do not lock your mind, think for yourself what seems right and what is fishy. I so were our mothers, we would not have seen Mashal killed or Noureen radicalized. The mob mentality would not have even existed.
Distinguished Guests! Be very clear that these very ideas that we are talking about are actually targeted by the extremist groups. They know that knowledge is power and believe in the V for Vendetta’s ideas that “ideas are bullet-proof”. This is the reason they are attacking young minds to kill any ideology other than their own making radicalization to easy weapon for them to conquer innocent hearts and minds. We need to counter attack them by diverting our youth towards libraries, theaters, podiums, seminars, and youth-speak forums. Only then can we win.

Also, I would like to talks to the worthy Vice-Chancellors sitting over-here. Sir, one of the reasons that students get attracted towards extremist behaviors is the presence of illegal political parties inside every university. They are huge reason why political hatred and intolerance exist inside our youth. They treat you like puppets and want you to say what they want to hear not the truth, training people on the agenda that their party is right and others are mere idiots. An I say party meaning both political and religious parties. Also, media should stop promoting any violent behaviors and any platform. This violent masala that news channel stuff the young minds with, then produces mobs and we sit thinking where we are failing.

I would also like to share students’ perspective to parents.

Dear Parents,

If to teach the abc of sciences was the job of your child’s institution, to teach them the xyz of ethics, values, morality and humanity was your job. It is your home first where we learn to respect others. Ap ne jhoota lagana chorh diya tau dunya ne humain shak ki nazrron se dhaikna shoru kar dia. Do not wait for any other mashal to die or any other naureen suffer, start revising parenting into good and responsible parenting now. Also please do not think that your child’s education has only one goal and that is to bring money home. No it has a higher perspective- to bring out the humans of this homo-sapien. I believe and I strongly believe that education and good parenting are the only lights required to absolve any darkness of the extremism.

By the end!

Young country-fellow.

What are we waiting for? Have we realized were our responsibility lies. Be your own hero and savior. Let’s take our responsibility and not be among those who merely criticize everything and appreciate nothing. Let’s say no to extremism as we stand united in this war on terror.

Pakistan Zindabad!    




Media is in a crisis everywhere, because the old media is being transformed into new media and social media is playing a vital role.

In Pakistan, media’s role is restricted because of the social environment, intolerance and extremism.

Besides, Pakistani media is obsessed with politics and hence neglects the state of our society. One reason is that the intellectual resources of society are deficient.

A national debate, that is the main assignment of media does not seen possible for various reasons.

Our society is deprived of media literacy. There is little interaction between the media and the intelligencia that could empower critical thinking.

Problems of youth one under reported and there is no understanding of the psychological problems that the youth has to deal with.

Complaints that media only projects, negativity is not valid because it is still not presenting the real picture of our society which is really very depressing.


Dr Farrukh Saleem

Roster of TerrorismLadies and Gentlemen:


Slide 1: Roots of Terrorism

Slide 2: to begin with, what really is terrorism? Terrorism takes hundreds of forms and has a hundred definitions. The one definition that I prefer over others is : The unlawful use of violence, especially against civilians, in the pursuit of political aims”

Slide 3: Terrorism is a tree. A tree has roots So does terrorism.

Slide 4: A tree has multiple roots. So does terrorism. Terrorism is really rooted in social injustices. And terrorism is really rooted in political injustices.

Ladies and Gentlemen: Decades of research has not concluded that there is no correlation between religion and terrorism. Yes, religious extremism may created conditions that are conducive to terrorism but millions of deeply, deeply religious people never choose terrorism.

The roots of terrorism in Pakistan lay in the deprivation of political rights and deprivation of social reghts to very large segments of the population. Imagine; 102 families hold more than 50 percent of the seats in the national and the provincial assemblies. Imagine; Pakistan’s democracy excluded the public from taking part in governing themselves. The state has no institutional nechanism to redress real or perceived grievances of the people. Yes, delayed justice works as an incentive for victims to join terrorist entities.

Yes, a small elite-dominated political-economy uses its political power base in self-serving ways that undermines the rule of law, denies social of political mobility and does not care for how most of the population lives.

Slide 5: A Tree has outcomes. A tree has leaves. Terrorism also has outcomes. A tree’s leaves are mostly green but terrorist outcomes are red, blood red. Bomb attacks and suicide attacks.

To be able to fight terrorism we must first understand as to what really motivates individuals who undertake terrorist violence. To be able to figt terrorism we must first understand as to which societies are most susceptible to becoming breeding grounds of terrorist. To be able to fight terrorism we must first understand individual and societal causes of terrorism.

Is there a correlation between poverty and terrorism? For the record, not all terrorists are poor. Is there a correlation between illiteracy ad terrorism? For the record, not all terrorists are illiterate. Is there a connection between economic deprivation and terrorism?

Slide 6: Intriguingly, there is scientific evidence that “participants in terrorist organizations and terrorist activities seem to possess higher education and income status than the bulk of the populations from which they are drawn.”

Slide 7: Yes, there is evidence “that the absence of civil liberties, rather than economic deprivation, and the quality and content of education, rather than one’s level of educational achievement, are more important as determinants of terrorist activity.

Slide 8: It should not be surprising “that quantitative measures of economic causation would be weak predictors of terrorist membership and activity since it is clear, as mentioned above, that economic deprivation does not always lead to terrorism.

Slide 9: We earlier talked about the terrorist tree with its roots in social injustices and political injustices. And we talked about the leaves in terms of terrorist bomb blasts and suicide attacks.

Slide 10: Let’s talk about the stem now. The terrorist stem comprises five safe havens: physical safe haven, financial safe haven, political safe haven, ideological safe haven and manpower safe haven.

Physical safe-haven: In 2004, Pakistan ceded territory under the Shakai agreement. In 2005, Pakistan ceded territory under the Sararogha peace deal. In 2006, Pakistan ceded territory under the Miranshah peace accord. In 2008, Pakistan ceded territory under the Khyber Agency pact. As things stand, Pakistan has ceded some 20, 000 square kilometers to various terrorist-insurgent conglomerates.

Ideological safe-haven: Since 1979, state and society have been providing ideological space for extremists to operate. The culprits here include the mosque-madresah twins, the media and the primary school curriculum.

Financial safe-haven: Money being raised locally finds its way into the terrorist infrastructure plus money coming in from Arab countries, India, Iran and whole host of other countries.

Political safe-haven: Since 1979, some mainstream political parties have been co-opting parties with extremist ideologies. This in effect has been providing political safe-haven to terrorist-insurgent conglomerates.

Manpower safe-haven: In 1947, there were 189 madressahs in Pakistan. The number now stands to over 30,000 with more than two million students. Not all madressahs but a minority acts as the provider and protector of terrorist manpower. On top of that, Pakistan’s 300,000 educational institutions with 50 million at the primary school level we have ‘curricula of hate’ not much different from what is being taught at some madressahs.

Slide 11: Pakistan thus becomes a country that supports and sustains the entire tree. With roots and social injustices and political injustices; the five safe haven and the red blood outcomes.

What we saw at the Army Public School were the leaves. What we see in terms of bomb blasts and suicide attacks and also leave. Operations Rah-e-Haq, Op Zalzala, Op Sherdil, Op Black Thunderstorm, Op Rah-e-Nujat, Op Rah-e-Shahadat, Op Zarb-e-Azb and Op Radul-Fasad are doing two things: cutting down the leaves and trying to bring an end to physical safe-haven.

Slide 12: To be certain, merely cutting down the leaves will not get us very far – the stem and the roots would have to be taken care of as well. The military operations and all about cutting the leaves. Who will then take care of the stem and the roots?

Slide 13: Let’s go back to defining terrorism: “The unlawful use of violence, especially against civilians, in the pursuit of political aims”

Pakistan is at war with terrorist force. The terrorist forces have a war objective: to take over political control of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan. The terrorists, signature weapon is fear. The terrorists, military strategy is unconventional – fidayeen attacks, suicide attacks and bomb blasts. The terrorists, military goals are: to isolate Pakistan; to mutilate governance and then again complete control over each and every kilometer of 796,000 sq kilometers we call Pakistan.

Slide 14: The terrorists and dependent of three factors - a geographical safe haven, a financial pipeline and supply of manpower.

Slide 15: Pakistan Army is the counter-terrorism force fighting to establish Pakistan’s writ over each and every kilometer of Pakistan. Pakistan Army’s military objectives are: to disrupt, dismantle and destroy the terrorists


Prof. Dr. Mukhtar Ahmed, Chairman, HEC, Pakistan, Islamabad


Role of Higher Education in Rejecting Extremism
GHQ Seminar, May 18, 2017


An institution of Higher Education is a nursery for refining the Academic, Intellectual, and Spiritual development of youth. The academic responsibility requires the senior and experienced scholars, professors to nurture the recognized scholarly attributes of their students which include

  1. Seeking knowledge through rigorous search of truth
  2. Develop their arguments for verification of their truths and consequent beliefs through best available evidence, gathered painstakingly
  3. Share and communicate their beliefs through civil, persuasive debate where time honored principles of freedom of speech and expression are recognized
  4. Scholarly discourse in universities is to enlighten through debate and not to inflame or enforce silence.

Universities are the crucibles to refine the talents of young scholars where they may encounter diversity of ideas, gleaned from great books, reflective scholars and people who may challenge one’s preconceived ideas and beliefs. Universities also create a safe and secure environment to resolve any tension coming out of diversity of views, opinions and beliefs. Wealth of intellectual Diversity on a university campus is a boon and not a bane.
Students are encouraged to develop their higher order skills of inquiry, reflection, analysis, synthesis and making defensible judgments based on the best available evidence. Such search for reliable and defensible opinions depends on a strong sense of responsibility for wellbeing of self and others. In this process young scholars are open to exploring new and more reliable answers to old questions, thus enabling them to not only discover new truths but add to the available fund of knowledge.
A community of scholars is committed to use critical ability, curiosity, constructive skills of scholars to contribute to well-being of society where dangers of indoctrination and propaganda are highlighted as barriers to the patient search for Truth. Young scholars are prepared to judiciously and reflectively assess the distortions caused by powerful emotional arguments. Subscribing to such distortions as truths leads to antisocial behaviors like extremism and terrorism. Young students must be taught through their comprehensive programs of study, research and practical work to form their own judgments and chalk out their own ethical paths to intellectual fulfillment. Ibn Rushd, commonly known as Averroes in the west, paved the way of renaissance in Europe, said at the University of Cordoba, “Ignorance leads to fear, fear leads to hate, and hate leads to violence. This is the equations.”
This equation can be revered as suggested by Al Ghazali who recommended” Declare your jihad on thirteen enemies you cannot see- Egoism, Arrogance, Conceit, Selfishness, Greed, Lust, Intolerance, Anger, Lying, Cheating, Gossiping and Slandering. If you can master and destroy them, then will be ready to fight the enemy you can see.”
Let me end by sharing a short verse from the Quran which is highly relevant to our situation today.

The Sura succinctly describes the timeless truth “that mankind are in general the loosers, except those who cultivate four salient attributes”. These four attributes of winners include:

  1. Their individual and collective belief in what they do and do what they believe in consistently.
  2. They strive to act and live righteously, with malice towards none, fair and just treatment of all.
  3. They always seek truth in all its manifestations through reliable strategies of innovative, discovery, intellectual discourse and civil debate.
  4. And they persevere against all difficulties, adversities and hardships to foster common good and a progressive social order.

Update 17 May 2017, 1230 hrs

A seminar on “Role of Youth in Rejecting Extremism” will be held tomorrow (Thursday) at Army auditorium under arrangements  Inter Services Public Relation (ISPR). The seminar is being held in collaboration with Higher Education Commission of Pakistan. Eminent persons from Academia, all vice chancellors of universities, students, students and mohtamim of madaris, national / international Media and civil society will attend. General Qamar Javed Bajwa, Chief of Army Staff (COAS) will make the keynote address.