APP63-18 RAWALPINDI: May 18 – Chief of Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa addressing a seminar “Role of Youth in Rejecting Extremism” at Army Auditorium. APP

RAWALPINDI, May 18 (APP): Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Qamar Javed Bajwa Thursday said Pakistan Armed Forces fought the menace of terrorism valiantly and set an example for the whole world in cleansing the barbarians from their potholes.
“We as a Nation, have fought the menace of terrorism most valiantly, giving unparalleled sacrifices. Our Armed forces have set an example for the whole world in cleansing these barbarians from their potholes.
Our success is acknowledged the world over,” the COAS said while addressing seminar at the Auditorium of General Headquarters.
The seminar titled “Role of Youth in Rejecting Extremism” was organized by Inter Services Public Relations (ISPR) in collaboration with the Higher Education Commission (HEC), and was attended by the Vice Chancellors of country’s varsities, academia, intellectuals, writers, scholars, media persons representing local and international news outlets, students, youth representatives and anchor persons.
He thanked to Allah Almighty for bestowing the honour and pride on him to command such a brave, professional and dedicated Army.
General Bajwa said he had no hesitation in saying that ours was the best Army in the world and it would not have been possible without the nation’s support.
“Each one of you was on our back. I want to appreciate every segment of the society, especially our Law Enforcement Agencies and the media, for their consistent support in helping us cutting these monsters to their size,” the COAS said.
Today, he said, Pakistan was at the most critical phase of war against terror as it was transiting gradually from major operations against terrorism to more intricate, targeted operations against residual threat, under the ambit of Operation Radd-ul-Fasaad, adding “we must also find ways to ensure that the causes behind terrorism
are addressed and National Action Plan is actualized foremost amongst them is extremism. Please remember, Army has been fighting against terrorists and terrorism while extremism was being fought by law enforcing agencies and society.”
He said Pakistan’s challenges were very real but there were positive sides to the picture as well. “Not only have we survived the worst onslaught of terrorism in modern history, we have reversed the tide. In fact, security has now achieved conditions to help development take off.”
Despite incessant propaganda, the COAS said, the fact was that as a Nation, Pakistan had rejected terrorism. That speaks of the robustness of our social and religious values and “I have no doubt that we equally reject extremism in all its manifestations.”
agencies and society.”
The COAS said Pakistan was a young Nation, both in historic and demographic terms. Demographically, over 50 percent of country’s population is projected to be less than 25 years of age and future of the country literally lies with the direction that the youth take over the next few years, he added
“We are standing at a crossroads; ten years down the line, we will either be enjoying the fruits of a youth dividend or suffering at the hands of a youth bulge, especially with the youth which remains vulnerable to extremism,” General Bajwa said.
The COAS said today’s event was to find collective solutions against extremism which affects everyone of us, including our most precious asset, our youth.
“We, the entire nation, including the parents of these young students expect them not only to be educated but groomed into balanced personalities, productive citizens and future leaders. With the intellect, skills and the talent that they have, we are sure
that they will be able to do wonders for Pakistan in every field,” he said.
With Pakistan becoming securer and promising by the day, the COAS said it was perhaps the time to reverse brain drain, saying the country needed them more than any other country in the world.
He said Pakistan’s enemies, both state and non-state, were actively pursuing divisive tendencies in society and they were waging the biggest and most sustained Hybrid War against us from multiple directions and using multiple ways.
“We are being targeted by not only terrorists but also spin masters of multiple hostile agencies, trying to subvert our minds, particularly that of our youth. Being denied opportunities in the mainstream media, they are using faceless platforms on the internet and smart phones,” he said adding that they were being helped actively in their cause by some countries.
The COAS said Indian leadership has made no secret of his active involvement in proxy struggle in erstwhile East Pakistan and now in Balochistan; nor are the assertions of some other leaders, any more secret.
He said Pakistan was cognizant of these threats and actively countering them with support of the whole Nation. “In fact, our homes, educational institutions and media houses are the first line of defence against extremism in the society. When I say educational institutions, they include schools, madrassahs and even institutes
of higher learning.”
“We have defeated terrorism together, now we will go after extremism too and rout it with our values, mental faculties and physical energies. Pakistan has done well in denying terrorists of all hues and colours, any foot hold in our territory. We have ensured the writ of state in the farthest and remotest corners of the country. Today there are no safe havens for any miscreants in Pakistan,” he said.
He said Pakistan was actively taking measure to ensure that even residual presence does not use Pakistan’s soil against any country, nor will we tolerate others doing so against us, adding that having defeated terrorism physically, now their deceitful
message and narrative must also be defeated.
These so called Muslims, the COAS said have nothing to do with Islam, terming them a bunch of ‘thugs and killers’ led by their greed and evil ideologies. “If you ever ask them why they are laying Muslim lands to waste, they will tell you that they are only doing it for reform. Yet that is precisely what Quran says about the miscreants or Fasadis in Surah e Baqra, and when it is said unto them, do not cause fasad on the earth, they say, we are but reformers,” he said.
They have realized that through ballot they cannot not achieve power but through violence they can, therefore coercion, fear and destruction are their tools of choice. “If you strip away the guile and verbosity, what they say amounts to stopping the fire by
lighting more fire, Islam is not hostage to a specific form of government, a specific set of laws or a particular interpretation.
It is a grand framework for whole humanity that can thrive in any system and any society,” he said.General Qamar Javed Bajwa said the ultimate objective of any religion was to teach that how to live a good life, not how to die a destructive death – glory comes in pursuit of the end towards a good society, not as an end in itself.
“Islam expects you to enjoin what is right and forbid what is
wrong. That is all as far as your social responsibility is
concerned. You cannot impose your views on anyone. There is no compulsion in religion. There is no legitimate force less the force of the State.
Therefore, let’s reduce violence from our society so that we are able to rebuild Pakistan. The world is moving ahead and we cannot afford to be left behind,” he said.
The COAS called upon the nation to join hands to counter extremism by providing ideal environment in your respective institutions and through diligence and discipline. Let’s help each other in identifying, curtailing and defeating any attempts to pollute the minds of our youth.
The COAS said extremism was a relative term and relative to our perception of what was ‘normal’. “Therefore, we will only have a clear concept of extremism if we have a clear concept of our own identity and values. A youth driven towards extremism is a youth without a clear idea of his values and identity.”
The COAS said most important stimulus driving a young adult,
was to find purpose and meaning in life. It is during this stage
(youth) that one is ready to commit; to professions, to
relationships, to causes and to ideologies. It is a wonderful stage in life; but it is also the most vulnerable.
He said the term ‘extremism’ was often unjustly applied to devout sections of Muslim societies, alienating them in the process, adding that although it was not always out of malice, but misunderstanding; “yet it is imperative that we understand extremism in our own context.”
The COAS said the western definitions of countering violent extremism were mostly confined to what they call ‘Islamic extremism’ and it was unfair and dangerous.
“Unfair, because of its inherent and totally wrong association of extremism with Islam. Dangerous, because it focuses too much attention on Muslim societies and masks the rise of extremism in multiple societies across the world,” he said.
Just next door, the COAS said India seemed to have given in to extremism to such an extent that it had become the new normal, adding “Hate has been mainstreamed in India and it is distorting there national outlook.”
He said the Hindutva extremism of the RSS and their GaoRakshaks, deprivation of Palestinians, the burning and desecration of mosques or gurdwaras in western capitals, the rise of hyper nationalists and the monster of racism, were all manifestations of extremism. “We can easily say, it is emerging as a transnational phenomenon hence warranting a transnational, unified response.”
General Bajwa said extremism was not due to any religion or ideology, it was a mindset where passion had given way to hate and intolerance of others. “Extremism is also related to the environment and the time we live in. From that perspective, we must admit that Pakistani youth is getting exploited due to poor governance and lack of justice in the society. The whole Muslim world seems to be on fire. The country seems threatened from multiple directions. It just does not seem fair.”
He said the first ever PSL Cricket Final at Lahore and celebration of 23rd March with three foreign contingents, has shown that our spirit is unbreakable and no one can isolate Pakistan.
“Youth are taking part in political discourse in unprecedented numbers and are active in the social arena as well. They are winning accolades for academic achievements abroad. Whether it is the record of youngest achievers, maximum number of straight As or a global technology competition, our youth stand out and make us all proud,” he said.
Earlier addressing the seminar, Director General Inter Services Public Relations (ISPR) Major General Asif Ghafoor said shielding the younger generation against extremism was collective duty of the nation.
“It is our collective duty as ‘state’ and individual duty in our respective domain to shield our youth against this threat. The process involves identification of threat and response measures. Please know that amongst others, we owe our achievements in ongoing operations to the youth,” he said.
The DG ISPR said the operation Radd-ul-Fassad was aimed at consolidating gains of all military operations earlier concluded in Kinetic domain and bringing about an enduring peace and stability.
“One of its strands is to eliminate extremism from our society. The requirement becomes more pronounced when we see that the nature and character of this conflict has also changed with ideology of ISIS which focuses on targeting minds of our youth,” he said.
Former IG Police Dr Shoaib Saddal said direct economic cost due to extremism-related terrorist incidents since 2003 had been colossal, which was estimated at over $ 120 billion (Rs 12.7 trillion).
He said Pakistan’s extremism-related fault lines included terrorism, sectarianism, regionalism, sub-nationalism and ethnic militancy, adding that the triggers for extremism were provided internally as well as externally.
Another speaker Ms Harem Zafar said there was the need to discuss that why the nation had come to this breaking point of lava eruption, adding “in the very root cause of it we have to discuss three points : System of Education, Parenting and the Role of youth itself.”
She said extremism groups knew that knowledge was power and believed in the idea of Vendetta because “ideas are bullet-proof” and that was the reason they were attacking young minds to kill any ideology other than their own making radicalization an easy weapon for them to conquer innocent hearts and minds.
“We need to counter attack them by diverting our youth towards libraries, theaters, podiums, seminars and youth-speak forums.”
Dr. Farrukh Saleem, Ghazi Salahuddin, Chairman Higher Education Commission, Prof Mukhtar, Prof Ahmed Rafique Akhter also spoke on the occasion.

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