Bangladesh tackling extremism better than Pakistan: Dutch think tank | The Daily Star
05:28 PM, April 28, 2021 / LAST MODIFIED: 05:29 PM, April 28, 2021

Bangladesh tackling extremism better than Pakistan: Dutch think tank

The Dutch think tank, European Foundation for South Asian Studies (EFSAS), has lauded Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's genuineness of purpose in tackling extremists with moral conviction and authority. A commentary published on April 23 outlined the differences between Pakistan and Bangladesh in dealing with extremism within the country.

The commentary dissects the recent Hefajat mayhem in comparison to Teherik-e-Labbaik Pakistan's (TLP) protest to expel the French ambassador from Pakistan. The think tank states that Imran Khan's handling of TLP's violent protests "reeked confusion and ill-intent".

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In November 2020, officials from the Pakistan government signed an agreement with TLP to expel the French ambassador from the country by April 20, following French President Emmanuel Macron's act of supporting French teachers' "right to show caricatures of the Prophet". The agreement was formed fully knowing the economic and diplomatic backlash Pakistan was to face expelling the French ambassador.

EFSAS states that the Pakistan government's slow succumbing to the TLP's demands made concrete a lack of judgment and foresight that was already reflected by the agreement signed last November. Further, the commentary also drew from multiple geopolitical experts to crucially identify Pakistan's incessant involvement with right-wing ideological parties who cared less about the development and progress of Pakistan. For instance, Brookings Institution fellow Madiha Afzal stated, "the Pakistani State has, over decades, actively fostered the ideology that led to the TLP and that leads many in the population to sympathize with the TLP."

On the other hand, EFSAS outlines Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's commitment to law and order, and justice, as she assured her parliament that those responsible for the violence, during Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Dhaka visit, would be brought to justice. EFSAS quotes Al Jazeera in describing the premier's efforts where hundreds of members of Hefajat-e-Islam Bangladesh (HIB) were arrested in the past two weeks. The list of arrestees includes the joint secretary general of Hefajat, Mamunul Haque, who has been charged with several accusations of inciting violence.

Hefajat spokesman Jakaria Noman Foyezi told AFP that 23 other leaders of the group have been detained by the police. The crackdown against Hefajat spread all around the country, with at least 298 members arrested by the police in Brahmanbaria. Deputy chief of Brahmanbaria police, Mohammad Roish Uddin, revealed that the arrests were made by identifying the miscreants through CCTV footages.

EFSAS recognises the Bangladesh government's firm and coordinated response to the violence as having "full cognizance of the potential that the HIB possessed of morphing into an uncomfortably powerful and dangerous extremist organization." It also mentions that "Sheikh Hasina genuinely wants to counter terrorism and extremism and therefore succeeds most of the time in doing so."

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