The term “soft” used is to describe one of the ways terrorism can be countered through the means of persuasion, typically involving the use of cultural and economic influence in approach to International Relations. At heart no one is born to become a terrorist and pick up arm. One of the main reason behind terroristic activities is unbalanced economic level in society due to which there is variation in quality of education and everyone cannot approach that level which brings skills of judgment to differentiate between right and wrong. This gap gives chance to terrorist groups to train youngsters in the name of religion, education, ethnicity and dignity. There are approximately 5000 to 6000 unregistered religious schools (madrassas) and thousands of students are enrolled in them in Pakistan. There is no proper curriculum and no check and balance. As it is easier to mold a young mind, anyone can misguide and misuse them.
There are two main ways or strategies to combat terrorism. De-radicalization; it’s basically changing the mental prospect of a terrorist, changing his perceptions by teaching and mentoring him. Another one is Disengagement; in this way we simply separate the terrorist from his own people and make him live in the environment he is misguided about. Usually terrorists are punished and sentenced to death because of the extremist behavior but that lies under the hard strategy. We can never completely finish the sense of terrorism unless we change the mindset of the people.
In Pakistan, it all started right after the incident of 9/11 in United States. Pakistan has supported America by all means but has failed to maintain its own peace. Usually there are three types of people involved in a terrorist activity. First one is the terrorist himself who is involved in an extremist activity. Second is a terrorist sympathizer, who is emotionally frustrated with the everyday situations. He does not have to deal with any terrorist activity but supports the one doing it and lastly, the third one is a funder, who funds such activities. America funded Pakistan to send its arms to Iran considering it a terrorist influenced country and a threat to America in 2001 and since then Pakistan is facing such terrorist activities.
Means of Media are arms of soft power like guns and tanks are of hard power. No one in this world can safe itself from the effects of media. It’s irresistible. Although social media has taken over all means but it’s not credible anymore because of the fact that anyone can post anything, anywhere at anytime. There is no check and balance and thus people take advantage of it. Twitter can be considered as the biggest recruitment center for terrorists as any tweet posted while being emotionally unstable can mark the person as target and then can be influenced to join a group that may lead to extremism. Facebook is also misused in promoting anti-nation groups that mislead thousands of people like Manzoor Pishteen Group. Such activities leave a bad impact on the people and portray an unstable impression of the state in International Relations. This can also give advantage to enemies and they might support such campaigns to create instability in the country.
Media itself is a representation of a state in International Relations. Whatever the public sees, they do. Singapore has the least crime rate because of the fact that they do not allow their media to publish any sort of criminal activity that may create a fear of terror among people and leave a bad impression in international affairs. On the other hand, Pakistan highlights all the criminal activities and that is why it’s suffering from thousands of domestic violence cases as well as international issues. The incident of Lal Masjid is no less example to understand that how the image of Army was destroyed and the Mullah’s influencing and training young children to become Taliban were considered innocent. So the role of media is very important in developing and spoiling minds.
Soft power is to play with ones ideology which takes plenty of time to develop and takes more time to change. We are using hard power since 2001 and the Army has taken successful operations but even then more and more terrorist groups are emerging because of the fact that the ideology is still alive. We can install well learnt Islamic Scholars and motivational speakers in jails to work on changing the mindset of the affected ones. A lot of literature needs to be written because nothing can change in a person but reading can definitely do it. A west funded organization named NARCA is working on registering madrassas that is a good step towards security of the state and safety of young’s future. Awareness campaigns can be arranged to educate public. Online campaigns can be made and promoted. Government should also take step and take control of the social media sites like China is taking steps to control the social media of their country to prevent harmful activities. Twitter blocks black lists people which is a good step. One more step that can be taken is to create positions of Social Media Inspectors whose job should be to instantly put ban on any activity that leads to anti-nationalism. Small measures need to be taken and tribal areas which are center for such activities must be equally paid attention to prevent further losses.
This Article is written by Abdul Kareem, Student of BS Media Studies. under supervision of Mr M. Taimoor Fahad Khan at the Institute of Strategic Studies Islamabad.