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Work on CTD plan for deradicalisation of militants begins this month

Work on CTD plan for deradicalisation of militants begins this month

KARACHI: The Sindh police’s Counter-Terrorism Department (CTD) has decided to execute a comprehensive plan that its team had prepared for deradicalisation of militants from this month, it emerged on Monday.

A core team comprising forensic psychiatrist and psychologist, facilitator or mediator, religious scholar and a CTD official has already been established for this purpose, sources said.

A few young suspected militants, who are in custody for indulging in ‘minor’ activities, were selected for a pilot project in the first phase of the deradicalisation plan, said Sindh CTD chief Additional Inspector General of Police Dr Sanaullah Abbasi.

He said a number of sessions with those youngsters would be held possibly at the CTD office in Garden police headquarters and if need be, such sessions might be held at their residences.

He disclosed that the militants had gone for training to Afghanistan but were persuaded by their families to abandon militancy. So far evidence of their involvement in ‘organised militant activities’ had not been found by the law enforcement agencies, he added.

In fact their families had approached the CTD to help deradicalise the youths. If this pilot project succeeded, it would be applied on a large scale, he added.

Additional IGP Abbasi said a qualified forensic psychiatrist working abroad had voluntarily offered his services for the process. He added that a non-governmental organisation, which had some experience in deradicalisation, was also helping the CTD to this effect.

They were planning to seek help of the private sector as far as financing of this project was concerned.

The CTD chief said that a host of reasons such as personal, family ties, social, ideological and cultural factors would be taken into consideration for the process. A joint team might try to approach the persons with tendency of militancy from different angles such as mental health approach and religious interpretative approach, he explained.

Once the CTD felt that the person had been deradicalised, they would take the decision to allow him to move back into society. But such person would be kept under watch by his family, local religious scholar/prayer leader and CTD official to monitor his behaviour.

Such religious scholars or prayer leaders would be taken into confidence and requested by the CTD to hold regular sessions with the deradicalised person preferably on a weekly basis to monitor his behaviour, he added.

Furthermore, such persons would be asked to remain in touch with the CTD office every week initially and if need be, further sessions would be held with him by core team members as well.

About the role of core team members, Additional IGP Abbasi said core team members particularly the psychiatrist/psychologist would help them in dealing with possible mental health issues of the militants. He believed that there was a dearth of professional forensic experts in the country, therefore, the CTD had sought help from qualified psychiatrists who had worked abroad.

The CTD chief said that a mediator or facilitator was likely to help them in uncovering the underlying interests of the person inclined towards militancy, besides his expertise would be used to develop a rapport or trust with the militants.

Such facilitator would be required to utilise different methods to alter the mindset of the militant and try to direct his energy towards some productive work.

“The facilitator shall also detect and resolve any conflict the militant may be facing with his family that caused him to alienate himself from them and subsequently seek support from any organisation,” said Additional IGP Abbasi.

Regarding the role of the religious scholar or prayer leader, the CTD chief said that the religious representative would be asked to talk with the militant about interpretation of different religious texts and traditions, which were usually misinterpreted by militant groups.

“The CTD official shall be present during the sessions as and if required by core team members in plainclothes and shall not disclose that he is part of the law enforcement agency.”

The role of the CTD official would be limited to assist other core team members and guide them with regard to any possible sensitive issues, he said, adding that the services of religious scholars might also be used to counter extremism on social media.

Published in Dawn, May 2nd, 2017

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