KARACHI: “Ending radicalisation is no more a one-way street or about the West teaching others. Countries such as Pakistan have ample experience in dealing with extremism for years. Its expertise can help foster international networks to help secure borders,” said ambassador of the European Union to Pakistan, Jean Francois Cautain on Tuesday.
Mr Cautain was speaking at the first session of the two-day international conference titled ‘Countering radicalisation and terrorism in Europe, the Middle East and South Asia in the wake of international migration — moving towards peace and harmony’. Organised by the University of Karachi’s Area Study Centre for Europe and the Hanns Seidel Foundation, Islamabad, the conference was attended by former and serving diplomats, ambassadors and academics.
Mr Cautain’s talk was focused on three main issues and the counter-strategy to be used amidst the ongoing refugee crisis. These issues pertained to, what he believes, were “rising concerns regarding terrorism in the wake of international migration.”
A counter-strategy in this scenario, he said, should focus on “cutting links between terror groups as external links between such groups are highly crucial to internal security.”
Identifying the needs of EU states, concrete action including better identity checks, and reaching out to international networks to provide expertise and help in ensuring peace, were some of his other suggestions.
Mr Cautain also spoke about Europe’s tryst with the Irish Republican Army (IRA) between 1970-1980 and Red Army Faction of West Germany from 1970 till the late 1990s. “Four hundred people were killed every year all over Europe by these [groups]. Terrorism in its present form is religion-based and far more concerning to the Europeans,” he added.
As part of the new global strategy, “there is a need to develop close cooperation networks with not just [the] east but also [the] south of Europe. It can be used to find new synergies and militant networks.”
Allowing genuine refugees and preventing the entry of illegal ones is another step which needs to be taken efficiently, he said, adding that, “[Migration] is a phenomenon which is going to increase.”
Resident representative of the Hanns Seidel Foundation, Kristof W. Duwaerts, said that “wrong apprehensions are giving rise to populist beliefs.”
Referring to the recent furore over Pakhtun profiling in Punjab, he said that “it is a circuitous and ill-informed debate which puts migrants and terrorists in the same category.”
After every terrorist attack, whether in Germany, France or Pakistan, populist arguments take centre stage. “A simplified argument in their case is that terrorist attacks happen because of migrants. Populists believe that if there are no migrants, there will be no terrorism. It is not our task to blame them [migrants] but to look towards the evidence. There’s a need to do away with speculation and encourage genuine debate,” he added.
Earlier, KU Vice Chancellor Prof Dr Mohammad Ajmal Khan said during his speech that “the current crisis is due to the misplaced priorities of the West; thinking one strategy would fit every country leads to disastrous results.” He counted Syria, Iraq, Vietnam and Chile, among other countries, as examples.
Before beginning his speech on the topic, Mr Cautain took a moment to address what Professor Khan had said. “The West is not monolithic. Black and white representation of the world won’t help in the current times. Just as I won’t say all Muslims are the same. I do agree with Professor Khan when he spoke about radicalisation in Pakistan. There’s a need to look at Pakistan’s western neighbour, Afghanistan, and the need to compare notes. Looking at the geopolitics at play since mid-1970s would make for an interesting education.”
Published in Dawn, March 15th, 2017