PR Editorials

Paigham-i-Pakistan: Creating a New Narrative

Photo: Dawn

During the recent years, there have been repeated demands to counter the jihadi narrative in Pakistan. A section has been discussing about a different narrative led by the State and the mainstream society. Finally, Pakistan seems to have taken the first step towards that narrative.


Led by the International Islamic University in Islamabad and signed by more than 1800 religious scholars, the government of Pakistan has started a significant initiative – Paigham-i-Pakistan. The document condemns sectarian violence, suicide attacks and calling for jihad without supported by the State.


Sectarian differences have become a primary reason for internal violence, including suicide attacks in Pakistan. In particular, the clergy has an important role to play in countering extremism – violent and otherwise. It has been reasonably accepted that the clergy play a negative role in the extremism narrative; hence, a section has been demanding to make use of them. In this context, the Paigham-i-Pakistan is a good beginning.


In the recent years, there have been numerous “fatwas” issued by the clergy on multiple issues – internal and international. Also there were calls for a “jihad” by the same section from different parts of the country. The new document makes the State as the Centre of this discourse by making it as the only authority to issue a jihad call.


A good first step has been taken; the State has to take this process forward, by undermining the legitimacy and support of those individuals and institutions that defy the above. In this context, it does not make sense to see the State playing with fire, by making deals with radical groups, such as the one brokered by the military during last month in Rawalpindi. The government surrendered to a radical group and abdicated its responsibility to impose its writ.


Second, all sections of the State will have to be on the same page. Parliament, Military and Judiciary will have to lead this initiative with same objectives, without politicising it. The political parties, especially the religious political parties will have to take ownership. Will they?


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