17 GENNAIO 2018
Pakistan facing the challenge of deradicalization
DI Francesca Manenti

Almost three years after the bloody bombing of the Army Military School in Peshawar, occurred on 16 December 2014, in which 143 people were killed, Pakistan is pursuing a structured effort to try to eradicate the terrorist threat from the country. The strong emotional impact caused by the attack, in fact, has pushed the Pakistani authorities to start a campaign of total intolerance towards any form of terrorism directed against the State, thus giving up the pragmatic approach used in the past against the Taliban insurgency and the network linked to al-Qaeda, which had pushed some among security forces to use part of them as an instrument of influence and destabilization in the region.

The need to elaborate a new strategy, which tackles such a diverse reality as radical Islamist militancy, prompted the government to rethink the approach adopted so far to counter the insurgency in the country. If in the past the effort was entrusted exclusively to the Armed Forces and was essentially based on counter-terrorism operations, starting from 2015 the government tried to play an active role in this process adopting a structured program of anti-terrorism and deradicalization, the National Action Plan (NAP), in order to face the threat in all its aspects. The Armed Forces’ combat operations continue to be the most effective tool to deal with the Taliban, while the government's policies aim to reduce the space available to the radical narrative that is at the basis not only of the militancy but more generally of the forms of violent extremism that afflict internal security.

However, in a country like Pakistan, where the complexity of the social fabric overlaps with economic discrepancies between urban and rural areas and in which the central authorities still struggle to take charge of the provision of services on a national scale, many critical factors are to be faced. These difficulties, historically rooted in the Pakistani system, are further exacerbated by the deep transformation of the jihadist-based radicalism and the effects it provoked in the country. As happened in other parts of the world, in fact, even in Pakistan the evolution of the extremist message is creating new radicalization environments. They are no longer necessarily associated with basic economic-social hardship, but the extremist message is also spreading among the more educated social classes, that look at accepting the jihadist project as a new instrument of opposition to the conventional system.


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