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Pak scene-Deradicalisation needs clarity: edit in DailyTimes, 15-May-17

15 May 2017 No Comment

Earlier this month, vice chancellors from 60 universities of the country huddled at the Higher Education Commission (HEC) head office to discuss ways to end intolerance and radicalisation in higher education institutes. The policy seminar at HEC was held in the wake of the unprecedented lynching incident of a student, Mashal Khan, at Abdul Wali Khan University, Mardan.

There was consensus among all attendees that universities needed to be made relevant to our social needs and that extremism could be curbed through changes in curriculum. Alongside, more than a dozen attendees were also critical of the social media use for ‘its disastrous effects on the youth’. A VC from Lahore commented, “We are losing our morals, values and basic principles with the invasion of new technology.”

It is ironic that even after witnessing the killing of a youngster on false charges of posting objectionable material on social media, those heading our universities still consider social media abuses, rather than the glaring abuse of a law, as a reason for our social decay and other problems.

Add to the gory incident of lynching a side-note that at least five persons, including activists, are facing trials for posting ‘blasphemous texts’ on social media.

Against this backdrop, the social outlook of our VCs doesn’t appear much different from that of the Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) chief Sirajul Haq who regularly issues tirades on the need to shun Western culture. Not to mention the latter’s criticism of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s reference to ‘Bhagwan’ as God. For the JI chief, this was ‘ideological terrorism’ and an attempt at appeasing the West.

With such lack of clarity on ‘terrorism’, it is hard to imagine that the existing university managements may be able to draw any viable plan to eradicate the menace of intolerance.

Unless our educational and political elite can see the role played by certain laws in promoting lawlessness in the society and can unequivocally condemn extrajudicial killings of innocent Pakistanis just because they have dissenting opinions, there is no way we can start an effective dialogue on ending intolerance.

All they need is to have a consensus on the real cause of the intolerance problem — is it the misuse of blasphemy laws for extrajudicial killings or the use of social media?

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