NACTA, vide Section 4 of NACTA Act, 2013, is mandated to “prepare comprehensive national counter terrorism and counter extremism strategies”. In NACTA, the Counter Extremism (CE) Wing is entrusted with formulation of National Counter Extremism (CE) Policy. The wing is headed by a Director General, supported by two Directors and assisted by Deputy Directors/Assistant Directors.
Formulation Strategy for National CE Policy:
Authority ventured to draft a “National Counter Extremism Policy”. It adopted a fresh policy formulation model wherein multidisciplinary stakeholders, viz. academics, political leadership, religious scholars and leaders, media representatives, civil and military bureaucracy, NGOs/CSOs, were brought together to give input on the subject. Several large and compact rounds of discussions of these groups were held that finally fed into the deliberations held at the NCEP Workshop on 14th July 2015. Six cross-disciplinary groups from amongst these stakeholders were formed to brainstorm upon six proposed themes on CE. It is pertinent to mention that the NCEP Workshop was not a one-time solitary event. It was a continuous and structured process and the selected individuals kept meeting over a period of six months to discuss and threadbare the themes assigned to them. The Minister for Interior concluded the proceedings on 14th July 2015 and formulated a Steering Committee from amongst the participants headed by Senator Mushahid Hussain Sayed. Provincial governments, being implementation agencies, were also included at all stages of the process and their input forms an integral part of all recommendations.
Thematic Scheme for National CE Policy:
The following seven themes have been included in the National Counter Extremism Policy:
1- National Security: Evaluation of weakness of State agencies to act vigorously against criminals and violence
2- Engaging Communities: Focus on basic administrative unit down to tehsil level in order to meaningfully engage communities
3- Media Engagement: Objective should be to turn the media ‘battlefield’ to defeat the militant and extremist aims by denying access to extremists and use it systematically to spread a national counter extremist narrative.
4- Education Reforms: General guidelines for devising and up-grading education policies at provincial level and at concerned federal institutions have been incorporated.
5- Enabling Environment: It is a kind of “exit strategy” which subtly challenges the ideologies that pull the subject towards extremism. Change agents will be selected carefully, whose message is accepted by the target audience without activating their cognitive defenses or without reinforcing the messages responsible for “us versus them” divide.
6- Reformation, Reintegration and Renunciation: Rehabilitation of persons previously involved in terror presupposes neutralization of those involved in violent extremism. It also assumes that the erstwhile hostile environment has been cleared and the State is in control of the environment. In addition to providing fora for a law-based polity where rights are guaranteed and basic socio-economic needs are in place, there would be need for rehabilitating those previously involved in extremist activities. Multiple interventions have been recommended.
7- Promotion of Culture: Following framework is discussed for injecting a new lease of life into the magnificent culture currently in slumber:
The National Counter Extremism Policy is an extensive document with a plan of action and budgetary component. It has been duly approved by the Steering Committee and Minister for Interior. Its adoption across the country has already begun.