Pakistan urges debate on drivers of violent extremism as UN reviews its counterterrorism strategy

Maleeha Lodhi. (AFP)
Updated 16 May 2018
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Pakistan urges debate on drivers of violent extremism as UN reviews its counterterrorism strategy

Pakistan has called for addressing internal and external factors that drive extremist ideologies in different countries and regions as the UN General Assembly began its sixth review of the Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy, the wide-ranging framework adopted in 2006 to defeat what is commonly known as a “hydra-headed scourge.”
“We believe there is need for the strategy to address the question of drivers of violent extremism as well,” Ambassador Maleeha Lodhi, permanent representative of Pakistan to the UN, told the 193-member Assembly on Tuesday.

The Strategy is based on four pillars: tackling the conditions conducive to the spread of terrorism; preventing and combating terrorism; building States’ capacity to prevent and combat terrorism and to strengthen the role of the UN system in that regard; ensuring respect for human rights for all and the rule of law as the fundamental basis for the fight against terrorism.
The Assembly reviews the strategy every two years, making it a living document attuned to member states’ counter-terrorism priorities.
Ahead of the review, the Pakistani envoy brought together at a working luncheon representatives of 15 countries from all regions of the world for an exchange of view on the strategy, an initiative which won praise from the participants.

At the outset of her remarks on Tuesday, Ambassador Lodhi strongly condemned Israel’s acts of state terrorism in Gaza, which claimed scores of Palestinian lives, as well as the terrorist attacks in Indonesia, Afghanistan and France.

She said that the latest review will provide an opportunity to review the evolving terrorism landscape, give recommendations to address emerging challenges and threats, and propose measures to be taken by Member States and UN entities to defeat terrorism.

Stressing the need for developing preventive approaches to curb the spread of terrorism and violent extremism, she said that the phenomenon could best be understood and effective responses evolved by understanding the conditions under which it thrives, and leads to terrorism.

“While we fully support the idea of developing counter messaging to address the issue of violent extremism, we believe there is need for a comprehensive international framework to address the ‘drivers of violent extremism’ as well,” the Pakistani envoy said.

Evolving a comprehensive preventive approach, she said, was not possible without assessing the root causes responsible for violent extremism.

Ambassador Lodhi said that an erroneous impression was being created about the preventive approach that violent extremism was exclusively the product of lack of good governance, human rights, development and rule of law at the national level.

“Drivers like foreign interference and occupation, protracted conflicts, lack of the rule of law at the international level, political and economic marginalization of migrant communities are key issues that are conspicuous by their absence from this discussion,” Ambassador Lodhi said.

“Both internal and external factors that drive extremist ideologies in different countries and regions, as well as the role of foreign occupation and prolonged unresolved conflicts that have contributed significantly to the rise of violent extremism, should be part of any comprehensive preventive strategy.”


Sabika Shaikh’s family waiting to see her one last time

The coffin of Sabika Shaikh, 17, is carried during her funeral service in Stafford, Texas, on May, 20, 2018. Sabika was an exchange student from Pakistan. (AFP)
Updated 22 May 2018
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Sabika Shaikh’s family waiting to see her one last time

  • The Punjab administration has announced a scholarship in the name of the Texas school shooting victim.
  • Sabika’s body will arrive in Pakistan on Wednesday morning. Her father says he was greatly moved to see how many people attended her funeral in Houston.

KARACHI: Abdul Aziz Shaikh, father of the Pakistani victim of the Texas school shooting, told Arab News on Monday that he would have to wait to see his daughter for the last time due to a delay in flights from the US.

“Sabika’s body was due to arrive in Karachi on Tuesday morning; however, due to a change in flight schedules, we will receive her at 4 a.m. on Wednesday,” he said.

“It’s really difficult but we have no option but to wait,” he continued, adding that officials at the Pakistan Consulate in Houston were striving to make the best possible arrangements for sending her body back to her home.

The 17-year-old Pakistani foreign exchange student, participating in the Kennedy-Lugar Youth Exchange and Study (YES) program in the US, was killed, along with nine others, when a teenage classmate opened fire on fellow students in the Santa Fe High School in Texas on Friday.

Sabika’s funeral prayers were offered at a local mosque in Houston after the noon prayer on Sunday.

“We thought she was only loved by her family. But the way people showed up at her funeral in Houston — and the way everyone condoled with us in Karachi — shows that she was loved by everyone," her father said.

Shaikh said he saw the video of the Houston funeral, pointing out that it was not only attended by Pakistani-Americans but people from all Muslim countries. Many of those who attended the ceremony, he added, belonged to other faiths. They were all mourning her untimely death, he said.

“All this shows people’s exemplary attachment to her. It makes us very proud.”

Rana Mashhood Khan, a minister in the Punjab administration who visited the bereaved family on Sunday evening, told Arab News that the provincial government was going to introduce a “Sabika Scholarship” that would be awarded to brilliant students from Punjab. This, he added, would help them study abroad in some of the best educational institutions around the world.

“I met the family and conveyed a special message from Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif. We wanted them to know that we will institute a scholarship in the name of their talented daughter for young and bright students in our province,” Khan said.

Shaikh seemed happy to hear the announcement. “I’m glad that the name of my daughter will be associated with a scholarship that will benefit our students.”

He also said that a Karachi-based industrialist, Ishtiaq Baig, had also promised to introduce a scholarship in Sabika’s name. “She is making us all very proud. I wish I could see her alive with so many accomplishments.”

On Sunday, Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi also visited Shaikh’s residence to condole with the family.

Expressing deep grief and sorrow, the prime minister described Sabika as a talented Pakistani student, adding that the whole nation was mourning her death. The Pakistani premier also pointed out that extremist tendencies were not just a problem in one country or region, but that they were an international one.

Earlier, in an interview with Arab News, Shaikh had revealed that his daughter wanted to be a diplomat and improve the image of her country.

“Sabika wanted to sit the Central Superior Services (CSS) exams and join the Foreign Service of Pakistan. She thought that Pakistan was a great country, but that it had an image problem.”

“At one point, she told me that she wanted to be like Maleeha Lodhi and Tasneem Aslam,” Shaikh had said. “Her desire was to improve the image of Pakistan abroad.”