The rising cases of on-campus violence in universities across Pakistan have become a worrying trend, hinting at the larger problem of intolerance and extremist behaviour that has become the trademark of our society. In order to curb this disturbing behaviour, the Higher Education Commission (HEC) and National Counter Terrorism Authority (NACTA) signed a Letter of Intent (LoI) the other day to engage faculty members and students in universities across Pakistan to develop a national strategy to counter on-campus extremism.

Only a few days ago, Punjab University students allegedly associated with Islami Jamiat-e-Talba thrashed a man on PU premises for having a meal with a female students. Although various accounts of the incident have been making rounds on the social media, the fact that a person was beaten up on campus by students – whoever they are affiliated with – in presence of several dozen onlookers and security guards showcases how intolerant the youth has become towards people with differing opinions and behaviour.

Earlier in the year, a violent clash between two student groups at PU had left several people injured and caused heavy losses to the university infrastructure.

The HEC-NACTA initiative is truly a need of the hour and one that should be put to practice at all costs to reverse the trend of extremism eating up the country’s younger lot.

The signing ceremony was held at the Commission Secretariat , with HEC Acting Executive Director Lt Gen (R) Muhammad Asghar and , NACTA National Coordinator Khaliq Dad leading the signing.

Lt Gen (R) Asghar said HEC had been very actively promoting the cause of peace at universities. “The HEC has heavily invested in security at universities,” he stated. He observed that extremism was an international phenomenon that had impacted a major part of the world. He hoped that the partnership between HEC and NACTA would help sensitise students, faculty and the entire academia on the menace of extremism and terrorism. He said universities played a vital role in training youth and inculcating a moderate approach to life in their minds. The NACTA chief underlined that Islam was a religion of peace and there was a need for promoting the true teachings of Islam. “We hope HEC and NACTA will work very closely in the years to come address the multidimensional causes of extremism,” he concluded.

Dad appreciated HEC for partnering with NACTA in its efforts to counter extremism and terrorism. He said NACTA devised national anti-terrorism strategies, adding that it carried out research on various aspects of terrorism. He hoped that the HEC-NACTA partnership would help utilise the research conducted related to causes, threats and solutions of terrorism.

Per the HEC-NACTA understanding, both organisations will carry out research on topics relevant to terrorism and extremism. The HEC will give NACTA online access to research journals on topics pertaining to extremism and terrorism.

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