Freedom of expression vital for countering militancy: senator

Freedom of  expression vital for countering  militancy: senator

ISLAMABAD: Senator Farhatullah Babar said on Thursday that the freedom of expression was vital for developing a counter-militancy narrative.

He was addressing the launching ceremony of 'Inclusive Pakistan', a publication of the Pakistan Institute for Peace Studies.

"The essential ingredient for developing national narrative for fighting militancy is intellectual infrastructure. This is not possible without the freedom of expression. With curbs being imposed on the freedom of expression in the name of national security, we are uprooting the very foundations of the intellectual edifice needed to build a counter narrative," he said.

"Building a counter-militancy narrative sans freedom of expression is an illusion," he said. He said that developing a counter narrative also required an end to political exclusivity and mainstreaming the politically marginalised areas like the tribal areas. "It is unfortunate that at a time when we are seeking to build counter-terrorism narrative, the government has rolled back FATA reforms process," he said.

"Even if a counter alternate narrative is developed it will still be open to question whether it will work in a country where the person apparently sitting on the driving seat is not the actual driver," he said.

He said proscribed organisations like Jaish and its leader Maulana Masood Azhar were being protected against UN action. "Militants such as Asmatullah Muawia roam free and banned outfits have reared their heads under different names," he said.

"With a reality like this, how can one be sure of the success of the counter-narrative, even if one was developed, for fighting militancy?" he questioned.