Regional Peace Institute (RPI) launched its ambitious Pakistan-Pakistan Dialogue Programme with a talk on “Learning Lessons from South-Asian Insurgencies and Terrorism” by Dr. Moeed Yusuf, Director, South-Asia Programmes, US Institute of Peace at the Serena, Islamabad on July 15. The programme is being sponsored by the Hanns Seidel Foundation (HSF).
In his opening remarks, Raoof Hasan, Executive Director of the RPI said that a large number of people in Pakistan were greatly disturbed by the increasing tendency among most of us to point the accusing finger for all our ills in someone else’s direction, the US, India, the Jews and the ‘farangis’ being the worst culprits. It appeared that we were losing out on the faculty of being able to rationally and pragmatically diagnose the reasons that have spurred this mammoth low and why we continued to regress further with every passing day.
Mr. Hasan said that “this lecture by Dr. Yusuf marks the launch of RPI’s Pakistan-Pakistan Dialogue programme that would provide an opportunity to all of us to engage productively to synthesize the nature and causes of the problems that we are confronted with and delineate a way forward to sort out the almost impregnable mess that we have created over more than six decades of, at best, a laborious existence”.
He hoped that “we’ll all emerge from today’s session richer in our knowledge and more firm in our belief that all these problems can be addressed if we are able to nurture and strengthen the ability of promoting the much-needed culture of rational discourse”.
Dr. Moeed Yusuf spoke on the subject citing instances from contemporary history on how various states had addressed the challenge of insurgency, militancy and terrorism. He referred to some serious paradoxes that tend to impact every state’s endeavours in tackling the scourge, the principal ones being the paradox concerning use and no use of force, add-on and core factors that contribute to insurgencies and the unfinished process of nation building within South-Asian states.
He stated that, on most occasions, the narrative of an ideology becomes more important than the ideology itself and the states also try to create their own narratives.
In Pakistan, intolerance of religious diversity had created sympathy for violence.
Dr. Yusuf further stated that the top-down factors that have contributed to the upsurge of militancy included the lack of capacity of the state and its failure to provide security to the people on a daily basis. These also included weaknesses in the domains of civilian law and criminal justice system. He also said that counter-insurgencies in cities cannot be won by the military. No counter-insurgency will succeed unless the state comes out and tells its counter-terrorism apparatus, both civilian and military, who the enemy is.
In conclusion Dr. Yusuf made four points that he said were critical to successfully combating any insurgency:
- The state should clear the confusion regarding who the enemy is.
- Major improvement is required in the civil law and criminal justice system.
- The liberal elite will not be able to lead the charge in providing the counter-narrative. For this, one would need to bring in the moderate religious scholars.
- The war against militancy will not be over with the operation in the North Waziristan Agency (NWA). It only begins there.
The roundtable was attended by politicians, scholars, diplomats, military personnel, journalists and professionals including Khurshid Mahmud Kasuri, Raoof Hasan, Afrasiab Khattak, Ambassador Riaz H. Khokhar, Ambassador Aziz Ahmad Khan, Ambassador Ashraf Jehangir Qazi, Ambassador Sarwar Naqvi, Admiral (R) Fasih Bokhari, Lt. Gen. (R) Asad Durrani, Ahmer Bilal Sufi, Dr. Rifaat Hussain, Dr. Abdulah Riar, Ejaz Haider, Salim Safi, Reham Khan, Ahmad Siddiqi and others.
RPI intends to carry forth its Pakistan-Pakistan Dialogue with more such events planned for the future.