Extremism requires transnational, unified response: General Bajwa

RAWALPINDI, Pakistan: The Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Qamar Javed Bajwa has said that extremism 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,” the COAS said while addressing the seminar on “Role of Youth in Rejecting Extremism” held at the army auditorium in Rawalpindi on Thursday.

General Bajwa said that the Hindutva extremism of the RSS and their Gao Rakshaks, 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.

The COAS said that as we transit gradually from major operations against terrorism to more intricate, targeted operations against residual threat under the ambit of Operation Radd-ul-Fasaad, we must also find ways to ensure that the causes behind terrorism are addressed and National Action Plan (NAP) is actualized.

The Army Chief said that foremost amongst them is extremism, adding that while army fights terrorists, terrorism and extremism is fought by Law Enforcement Agencies (LEAs) and society.

The Chief of Army Staff said that 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, he said.

“A youth driven towards extremism is a youth without a clear idea of his values and identity,” the COAS said. “Most important stimulus driving a young adult, is to find purpose and meaning in life.”

The COAS further said that the term ‘extremism’ is often unjustly applied to devout sections of Muslim societies, alienating them in the process. He said that although it is not always out of malice but misunderstanding; yet it is imperative that we understand extremism in our own context.

The COAS said that 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,” he said.

The Army Chief said that 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,” he said.

The COAS said that 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. He said that being denied opportunities in the mainstream media, they are using faceless platforms on the internet and smart phones.

Furthermore, General Bajwa said that 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. He said that 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,” the Army Chief said.

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