“Engaging parliament key in shaping religious narrative against extremism”
There is a greater need for revisiting the religious narrative that extremists invoke to justify their acts. Whatever be the specifics of the counter discourse, some sort of mechanism may be evolved, not least by engaging parliament and its bodies.
These thoughts came from experts discussing “Religious construct of the conflict”, first of the series of working group dialogue aimed at countering violent extremism, hosted by Pak Institute for Peace Studies (PIPS) on March 20, 2017 at Hotel Margala, Islamabad.
The group was reminded how militants often resort to religion to justify their action. The extremist narrative, it was warned, even trickle into society too, which is increasingly adopting sectarian undertone.
One of the best answers can come from religious scholars, by shaping what is increasingly called as alternative or counter narrative – counter to extremism.
Members of the working group, which included religious scholars and social scientists, discussed in details as to what may constitute the appropriate construct. There were some disagreements on the specifics too, but they all underlined that some sort of mechanism may be prioritized for producing or engaging that construct.
Great emphasis was placed on the role of parliament. Disagreeing with the suggestion that all some specific department of the government with powers be engaged, participants termed parliament as the right forum, and should therefore be sensitized to that end. Parliament and its bodies can then negotiate with diverse stakeholders about different policies and their impact on how religious thought is affected.
Given that parliament has representation from all segments of the society, one of the automatic outcome of such mechanism will be a diversity-inclusive narrative, which itself contradicts extremists’.
Likewise, it was argued that the component of that narrative should be extracted from the Constitution of the country.
Additionally, members suggested national and provincial dialogue forums be constituted for more constructive thought, and area study centers be revived to “understand” different faiths and sects. They lamented how little attempt is made at understanding each other, resulting into misconceptions. Some even reminded that while the West has been learning about the Muslims in general, in the Muslim world, the entire West is viewed as some monolithic entity, in adversarial relation to the Muslim world.
Participants included Dr. Khalid Masood, Dr. Qibla Ayaz, former vice chancellor, Peshawar University; Dr. Syed Jaffar Ahmed, former chiarman, Area Study Center, Karachi University, Khursheed Nadeem, Dr. Raghib Naeemi, Allama Syed Ahmed Yusuf Banori; Qari Yaseen Zafar; Qazi Javed; Ammar Khan Nasir; Dr. Husn Al-Ameen; Saqib Akbar; Sahibzada Amanat Rasool; Maulana Abdul Haq Hashmi; and Muhammad Amir Rana.