NACTA’s Youth Conference suggests making all counter terrorism, extremism legislation federal subject


ISLAMABAD, July 13 (APP):The National Youth Conference has recommended consolidation of legal provisions scattered in different statutes into one law with a single investigation agency to deal with offences related to incitement to violence and hate speech.
The different statutes include Pakistan Penal Code (PPC), Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act (PECA), Anti-Terrorism Act (ATA) and Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) Act.
The National Youth Conference – entitled “Countering Violent Extremism on Campuses” concluded here, also recommended to make all counter terrorism and counter extremism legislation a federal subject.
The Conference, organized here by National Counter Terrorism Authority (NACTA), during its two days proceedings (July 11-12, 2018) was followed by deliberations with relevant stakeholders and experts to formulating policy recommendations and devising practical action plans for their implementation.
The first day of the Conference ended upon disbursing of participants into ten Thematic Group Discussions to compile recommendations on Day second for final suggestions and
guidelines to devise a comprehensive policy against violent extremism in our educational institutions.
Major personalities attended the Conference included Minister for Information and Broadcasting, Barrister Ali Zafar, National Coordinator NACTA, Dr Muhammad Suleman Khan, Chairman HEC, Dr Tariq Banori and around 200 participants from all over Pakistan amongst them were vice chancellors, faculty members, students senior office holders of various educational and vocational institutes including some of prominent Madaris students and faculty members of more than 25 universities.
A document highlighting recommendations has revealed that a session entitled “Pakistan’s Legal Framework on Preventing Incitement to Violence” also suggested to bring Khatibs of mosques on pay roll of the government on specific criteria and regulate
Friday sermons.
The other recommendations were to revise university curriculum and include a compulsory course on laws related to incitement to violence and hate speech, reflect all legal provisions on incitement to violence and hate speech in university prospectus and affidavits furnished at time of admission and peace-building through On-Campus Extracurricular Activities.
The Conference recommended that Higher Education Commission (HEC) should promote diversity through inland study tour programmes, which should include visits to diverse cultures, religious communities and places of worship, introduce a system of academic incentives to promote extra-curricular activities in educational institutions, set up robust career planning and psychological counselling programmes in educational institutions, encourage civil society to hold on campus events for promotion of art & culture to build tolerance for diversity and promote University-Madrasah interaction.
The HEC should also remove impediments for Madaris
students who want to join mainstream educational institutions on
basis of agreed equivalence formula, introduce compulsory contemporary subjects in Madrassah curriculum and launch programmes for joint social work, sports, cultural and arts activities
In session on Impact of Social Media & On-line Content on Youth, the Conference recommended that the government needs to define and classify what constitutes online extremism,
design and implement digital link between HEC & relevant Law Enforcement Agencies (LEAs) to patrol digital space for
identifying online extremist content and increase momentum of
art and cultural content in digital space.
The Exploring Causes of Violence and Types of Extremism in Youth session recommended to promote inclusive dialogue in educational institutions on religious, political and social themes,
establish early risk assessment mechanism in educational institutions, share diverse views of history, implement research-based educational system, that promotes freedom of expression and critical thinking, review state policies through dialogue and establish a feedback mechanism to the government and improve communication gap between parents, teachers and students.
The session on Role of Faculty and Student Forums in Countering Intolerance and Extremism suggested that HEC should
build capacity of faculty to identify youth vulnerability towards intolerance and extremism, establish Inter-Campus Study Circles (ICSC) to promote culture of tolerance and social debate among students and introduce core courses on ethics and humanities in all universities/madaris.
Similarly, session on Ideological Imprint of Extremist Organizations in Educational Institutions recommended to encourage tolerance as a main theme in co-curricular and extra-curricular activities, ban grouping of students on ethnic, political and religious basis, prohibit vigilantism as a social tendency/accepted practice and promote use of dialogue, discourse, discussion and other nonviolent means of learning.
The session entitled “Drug Abuse in Campuses & Role of Campus Administration and LEAs” suggested to establish mental health and substance abuse centres in educational institutions and engage all stakeholders i.e. scholars, politicians, parents and faculty to counter drug abuse.
Moreover, the session on Role of Female Faculty & Students in Countering Extremism recommended to implement specialized mandatory courses and create research opportunities on gender, violence, peace, security issues, teach Islamic concepts of tolerance, ethics & values through female voices and increase
spaces and opportunities for female faculty and students in madaris.
The session on Exploring Inter-University Coordination for Promoting Common Vulnerabilities and Exposures (CVE) Research recommended that HEC needs to design and implement research framework on peace-building and CVE and initiate inter-university and university-madrassah CVE research dialogue to engage students and faculty on both sides.