Pakistan as a nation rejects terrorism

RAWALPINDI: Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Qamar Javed Bajwa Thursday said 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 Army Chief said while addressing a seminar on 'Role of Youth in Rejecting Extremism' held at Army Auditorium in Rawalpindi. 
The event was organized by the Inter-Services Public Relation (ISPR) in collaboration with Higher Education Commission of Pakistan (HEC).
The COAS said, "The state institutions and masses stand united against the menace of terrorism and extremism. 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," he said.
"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 Law Enforcement Agencies (LEAs) and the media, for their consistent support in helping us cutting these monsters to their size," ghe said. 
"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 (NAP) is actualized," he said.
"Foremost amongst them is extremism. Please remember, while Army fights terrorists, terrorism and extremism is fought by law enforcing agencies and society," he added.
"Pakistan is a young Nation, both in historic and demographic terms. Demographically, over 50 percent 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," he said.
"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," he said.
The COAS underscored 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. 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," he said.
He said, "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 and dangerous, because it focuses too much attention on Muslim societies and masks the rise of extremism in multiple societies across the world," he said.
"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 their national outlook. The Hindutva extremism of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (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," the Army Chief said.
"Extremism is not due to any religion or ideology, it is a mindset where passion has given way to hate and intolerance of others. 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," he said.
"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," he said.
"The first ever Pakistan Super League (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," he said.
"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," he said.
"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. 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 added.
"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," he said.
"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," the COAS said.-NNI
"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," he said.
He said, "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," he said.
Terming the terrorists as 'so called Muslims,' he said, "They 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," he said.
He highlighted that, "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."
"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," he said.
"You cannot impose your views on anyone. There is no compulsion in religion. There is no legitimate force less the force of the State," he added.
The Army Chief called for reducing violence from our society to be able to rebuild Pakistan saying, "The world is moving ahead and we cannot afford to be left behind." 
He urged to join hands to counter extremism by providing ideal environment in the 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," he said. - NNI