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Fawad Claims Schools and Colleges Boosting Extremism More than Madrassas

by Newsweek Pakistan

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Information minister says Pakistani state unwilling to tackle extremism and admits government had to ‘step back’ in dealing with TLP

Information Minister Chaudhry Fawad Hussain on Thursday said schools and colleges were promoting extremist thought far more than madrassas and admitted that state and government were both unwilling to tackle the problem.

“In the ‘90s, teachers were appointed to preach extremism,” he told a ceremony organized by the Pakistan Institute of Peace Studies to launch a “Charter of Peace.” Alleging that some religious leaders and leaders had preached extremism, he appeared to agree with the prevailing view that the government had failed to push-back against extremist thought.

“Many people think that the remedial steps taken by us [government] are inadequate while the truth is that neither the government nor the state is completely ready to fight extremism,” he said, adding that the government had been forced to step back in its dealings with the Tehreek-e-Labaik Pakistan over its violent protests last month. “We have just seen how the government retreated in case of TLP,” he said, referring to the “secret deal” that led to the group ending its protest in exchange for the government agreeing to virtually all of its demands.

“Some 30 years ago, on the basis of political and external reasons, we created an element and as a result Pakistan is facing a big threat,” he said, noting that problems were inevitable when a state weakened while individual groups were threatened. “If you want soft change, you must be hard,” he said, without any further explanation.

Lamenting that many in Pakistani society were unwilling to even consider opposing viewpoints, he noted that people were scared of saying what they believed, as anyone could declare them a non-believer. “If a state cannot safeguard the life of a common man and fails to establish its writ, then how the point of view of all sides comes to fore,” he said, adding that a state was bound to ensure its write and assert its authority if anyone violated its laws.

Stressing that Pakistan faced no major threats from India or any other foreign power, he said the greatest threat to the country came from within. “As a true follower of Holy Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him), a Muslim can never be an extremist and the soft change is not possible without promoting a congenial atmosphere in society,” he said.

He said the area comprising Pakistan had once been inhabited by Sufis who had no extremist leanings and regretted that this was not reflected in today’s society.

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