Pakistan’s first ever National Internal Security Policy (NISP) apart from addressing critical issues related to threat perceptions ranging from street crimes to nuclear terrorism, envisages a deradicalisation programme which involves looping madrassas into mainstream education.

The policy tabled by Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan in the National Assembly recently, is aimed at protecting the national interest of Pakistan and includes three key elements — a dialogue with all stakeholders, isolation of terrorists from their support systems and enhancing deterrence and capacity of the security apparatus. The NISP said dialogue offered a political means to end internal disputes but this is not the only option though it is the most preferred way to bring peace and reconciliation. Doors were open for negotiations with all anti-state and non-state groups within the limit of the Constitution and without compromising the primary interests of territorial integrity and sovereignty of the state.

The National Counter Terrorism Authority (NACTA), designated as the focal organisation for coordinating counter terrorism efforts in Pakistan, in consultation with other institutions supporting NISP, will develop and coordinate a National De-Radicalization Programme Design. The policy envisages the integration of mosques and madrassas in the national and provincial educational establishment by mapping and then mainstreaming and integrating the existing and new madrassas and private sector educational institutions.

The policy said a large number of terrorists, either are, or have been students of madrassas where they were brainwashed to take up arms against the state. Therefore, the madrassa and mosque remains an important point of focus for any government policy to stem the spread of extremism in Pakistan. The policy recognised a need to develop a national narrative based on tolerance, harmony and the right of the people to make religious, political and social choices. De-radicalisation programmes will be conducted in jails for prisoners and terror convicts.

The madrassa system cannot be excluded from the internal security parameters of the country, the policy stated. Controlling funding of the terrorists is a major challenge especially when the curriculum in these madrassas does not prepare the youth for the job market.

It is proposed to tighten control over foreign funding to non-governmental organisations and madrassas by involving banks, the Federal Board of Revenue and taxation departments to monitor the flow of money to suspected organisations.