Pakistan calls for addressing local and external drivers of terrorism

New York, 15 May, 2016

At the UN, Pakistan called for addressing both local and international drivers of terrorism to deal with the challenge.

Speaking in the Security Council Debate called by the Egyptian chair on "Countering the Narratives and Ideologies of Terrorism", Ambassador Maleeha Lodhi also urged the resolution of longstanding conflicts.

She said "if conflicts spawn terrorism and if terrorist narratives feed off conflict situations it is critical to seek an end to these conflicts to deprive terrorists of their oxygen."

At the international level, she said, "We must address the international drivers that contribute to injustice, inequality, hatred and deprivation".

Listing the international factors that foster terrorism, Ambassador Lodhi said that foreign interventions and occupation and denial of the right of self-determination, all in violation of agreed principles of international law, provide fertile ground for terrorist propaganda to take root.

"Persistence of these conditions and the failure of the international community to redress genuine grievances of the weak against the powerful are important factors that create the breeding grounds of terrorism", she asserted.

The Pakistani envoy said that terrorism cannot be associated with any religion, culture or region as the ideologies and narratives of different terrorist groups emanate from diverse sources.

Unequivocally condemning terrorism in all its forms and manifestations, Ambassador Lodhi said that there can be 'no justification for the killing of innocent people'. "But we know from history that even the most abominable of mass murderers crafted twisted webs of narratives to justify their heinous acts. Terrorists do the same", she added.

Dr. Lodhi also called for concerted efforts to counter the messages and rationales spewed out by terrorist groups that fuel violent acts. "In the battle of ideas much ground is lost to the narrative of terrorists by, for example, the failure to prevent xenophobia, Islamophobia and other forms of discrimination, by confusing hate speech with free speech or by profiling entire communities in the name of counter-productive security measures", she said.

Such actions, she said, has only strengthened the divisive notions of "us" and "them". "Terrorists want to make us believe that a clash of civilizations is inevitable and even necessary. We must not allow them this space", she added.

While underlining the need to develop a more robust counter-narrative against terrorists' ideologies, Ambassador Lodhi said that we also need effective communication strategies demanded by the digital age.

Raising alarm at the unprecedented use of social media platforms by terrorists, she called for effective response to counter online radicalization and measures to prevent such groups from exploiting digital space.

Reiterating Pakistan's commitment to fight terrorism, Dr. Lodhi told the 15-member Council of National Action Plan designed to counter terrorism contains six specific actions points that directly and indirectly aim to counter the narratives and ideologies of terrorists.

"We are committed to fight this battle of minds, as much as we are committed to fight the terrorists on the ground", she said and offered to share the country's experience with the international community to further the common goal of defeating terrorism and eliminating violent extremism.