KARACHI, Jan 20: The need for changing mindsets to tackle the problems of extremism and terrorism by revisiting the curriculum and addressing the non-traditional security issues, such as transnational water-related matters, was stressed by experts at a seminar here on Friday.
They also called upon the authorities concerned to seriously address the Baglihar dam and the Kishanganga dam issues with India for improving human security in the 21st century.
These views were expressed in the day-long international seminar on “Maintaining International Peace and Security in the 21st Century: Impact on South Asia” organised here by University of Sindh, Jamshoro, in collaboration with the Higher Education Commission of Pakistan.
In his presentation on the impact of extremism on higher education in Muslim countries, Vice Chancellor of Sindh University Dr Nazir A. Mughal claimed that Pakistan being a frontline state in war against terrorism was facing a growing insurgency by ‘Islamist groups’.
He maintained that seminaries run by clerics had played a role in the social, educational and political development of Pakistan. However, these institutions, he added, had been branded as factories of jihad and nurseries of violent extremism by the western media.
He was of the view that higher education institutions had become breeding ground and recruiting centres for extremism in Pakistan.
He called upon the government to accord top priority to education in the five or 10 year plans for removing illiteracy from the country, adding that illiteracy was one of the causes of extremism and terrorism.
Among other things, he also called for developing adult literacy centres across the country and establishment of a national literacy fund.
He also called for evaluation of seminaries every three months and suggested that in a world of religious misunderstandings, violence and hijacking of religious faith by political ideologies, a Pakistan international centre for interfaith dialogue should be established.
In his keynote speech, Pervaiz Iqbal Cheema of the National Defence University said that in the 21st century the economic factor was much more important than the political factor that had dominated the 20th century, making non-traditional security matters more significant.
“Now the focus is on human security and on addressing transnational water issues, energy problem, water depletion, global warming and environmental degradation,” he said.
He said that besides Pakistan, many countries were facing a water shortage which would become further acute with a rise in population.
He said that out of the available water in the world only three per cent was freshwater, the rest was seawater while out of this three per cent, 70 per cent was used in agriculture, 20 per cent by industry and only 10 per cent by human beings.
In the coming years due to a fast growth of population there would not be much water, hence the cause of conflict.
He said that the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation should take initiatives for promoting collective approach in this regard.
The Sindh governor’s adviser Dr S.M. Qureshi who chaired the inaugural session was of the view that there was a need to give priority to education system right from the primary level to overcome trends of extremism and terrorism.
He said that security concerns had retarded economic development.
Hyderabad DIG Sanaullah Abbasi said that the war on terror after 9/11 had affected Pakistan very badly.
“The target is civilian, police and armed forces and the role of police in this challenge is very critical,” he said, adding that police in Pakistan were ill-equipped, ill-trained and lacked merit in most cases. Therefore, the problem had become a threat to peace and security, he added.
However, he said that by increasing police salary, providing them technological back-up, equipment and training and observing merit, policing could be improved.
He said that operational autonomy, neutrality, impartial and accountable policing in Pakistan would play an important part in countering terrorism for regional peace and prosperity.
Zulfiqar Halepoto of the Thardeep Rural Development Programme in his paper on “Pakistan-India water dispute” said that the water crisis in Pakistan was directly linked to relations with India.
The resolution of the water dispute between the two countries could prevent an environmental catastrophe in South Asia, but failure to do so could fuel the fires of discontent that could lead to increase in extremism and terrorism, he added.
While dealing with the issue of availability of water for Pakistan, he called for trans-boundary scientific coordination to obtain a holistic perspective of the existing and anticipated changes in the natural system of the river basin.
He also suggested that both Pakistan and India undertake collaborative trans-boundary programme to improve the monitoring of snow, ice and water resources in the Hindu Kush-Himalayan region for future use.
He emphasised the need for trans-boundary co-operation within the natural geographical and hydrological unit of the river basin instead of territorial, demographic, administrative or political boundaries.
He said that water agenda should be part of all bilateral talks/dialogue including, Saarc agenda.
Col Ahmad Raza dealt with the issue of definition of terrorism throughout the ages.
Sahar Gul Bhatti made a presentation on the functioning of various TV channels presenting religious programmes.
She maintained that many of these channels had no Pakistan Electronic Media Regularity Authority licence and highlighted their contents.
She said that many contradictions existed in the preaching of these channels.
Some of them, she said, were beamed directly from abroad.