ISLAMABAD-Former Federal Minister and Senior PPP leader Senator Sherry Rehman has said that violent extremism was a struggle for power, and that many red lines had been crossed by the proliferation of hateful narratives.
Senator Rehman stated this at the launch of the research report ‘Beyond the Red Line: Contemporary Trends in Conflict Discourse in Pakistan’ by Communications Research Strategies (CRS) here at a local hotel.
The report was prepared under the ‘Conflict Discourse Mapping’, a project by CRS, with support from the United States Institute of Peace (USIP). Experts from various sectors attended the event. Senator Sherry Rehman was the chief guest, while the panelists included Dr Adnan Rafiq, Member - Planning Commission of Pakistan, Amber Shamsi, Director - Center for Excellence in Journalism IBA and Fasi Zaka. a senior development expert.
In his welcome note Aniq Zafar, CEO – CRS, while thanking the chief guest commented, ‘We harbor the sincere hope that the insights gleaned from this meticulous investigation will serve as the bedrock for evidence-informed policymaking, effective interventions, and strategies designed to counteract violence and extremism. In this endeavor, we stand united, knowing that the path forward requires collective determination and shared vision.”
Commenting on the report, Senator Rehman said that hateful narratives had gone beyond extremist and violent groups, and are instead being shaped by political forces as well through currency of anger and hate as can be seen in online trolling. She lamented the weaponization of fake news for personal interests.
While speaking to the audience, Imran Khan, Resident Director – USIP said, “The report has explored the intricate dynamics and complexities of violence and extremism in Pakistan, while touching upon underlying causes, catalysts, and far-reaching consequences of extremist discourse by scrutinizing critical data and associated developments.”
The report, authored by communication and digital experts Usman Zafar and Fatima Yamin, analyses various trends in religious, political and social discourse on various conflicts in Pakistan, and forecasts an onset of extremist violence leading up to the next General Elections due to heightening violent rhetoric. It further states that unless the Pakistani state generates a uniform narrative against terrorism and extremism, targeted and planned attacks may occur against political parties and members of the public, with the online space becoming weaponized.