Senator Sehar Kamran (TI)

Sehar Kamran is elected Member of the upper House of the Parliament of Pakistan for the term 2012-2018. She has been awarded “Tamgha-e-Imtiaz” one of the highest National Civil Awards in recognition of the contribution in the field of Education, Social Work and for promoting Pakistan in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. In view of her experience, contribution and passion, she has been elected to Committees of the Parliament dealing with strategic defence and foreign relations fields as well as Pakistan’s Diaspora and HRD. A distinguished educationist with a number of accomplishments in developing and successfully administering one of the most prestigious education institution established in Royal Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Ms. Kamran had earned a name for herself among academicians and practitioners in areas of regional and international defence and strategic studies being a Member of International Institute of Strategic Studies (IISS) and effective participation in various regional and international Conferences, Seminars and Workshops which include Gulf Research Meeting 2012 at the University of Cambridge wherein she presented a paper on Pakistan and the Gulf Region – historical perspective and future trends; the Gulf Forum 2011 organized by the Gulf Research Council and Diplomatic Institute KSA, and IISS annual conference on the Global Strategic Review (GSR) held in Geneva in September, 2011. In the field of Education, she has raised the bar for imparting international standard education to students belonging to various nationalities, working in a challenging international environment and leading the multinational educational and management team. Her own areas of excellence include financial planning and management besides general administration and teachers, trainers, as well as student guidance. She had participated in the Council of International Schools (CIS) Forum 2011 in Lisbon, Portugal, first education forum of Arab Countries held in Dubai in 2006 and many other education development events. Ms. Kamran had all along been an active social and political worker starting with Peoples Student Federation girl’s wing in Karachi University and reaching to the top political leadership decision making, negotiations and reconciliation efforts during the period of exile in Gulf Region. Through her personal traits and skills, she has been continuously engaged and contributing in removing misperceptions among individuals and institutions within Pakistan as well as abroad. Since joining the Parliament of Pakistan as an elected Senator, Ms. Kamran has taken a number of individual initiatives for bringing the national institutions closer. Amid growing propaganda about the defence forces and security agencies of Pakistan, she has been unequivocally defending the institutions besides taking outreaching steps / visits and patronizing various initiatives to build better relations and understanding. She has been continuously pushing agenda and measures for better treatment of Pakistani Diaspora in Gulf and other regions of the world and had been struggling to inculcate in the minds of policy and decision makers about the importance of Pakistani community working in Gulf countries and contributing increasingly in the economy of the country through growing remittances. Realizing the need for a more structured and focused approach in building defence, strategic, political and economic relations among Pakistan and countries of the Gulf region, Ms. Kamran has undertaken the initiative of establishing Centre for Pakistan and Gulf Studies which is poised to be a centre of excellence and perform the role of a think tank for the mutual benefit of the countries, their governments, leaders, institutions and people.

Under this forum she has organized an international seminar titled “Innovating Pakistan and Gulf Relations.” She also chaired a subsequent Roundtable with Dr. Marvin Wienbaum on “Gulf Security: Emerging Scenario.”

She has also participated and presented the Pakistani perspective on various international forums. She has participated in multiple international seminars and workshops related to international security, defence and civil-military relations. She participated in a study visit on Civil-Military relations in South Korea. Recently she has participated and presented Pakistan in OIC workshop on implementa​tion of UN resolution 1624 on countering Incitement to Terrorism, held at OIC headquarter Jeddah Saudi Arabia.

These days, apart from her legislative role and compulsions in Senate of Pakistan, she has initiated a mega project named “SALAM: Innovating Means to Resolve Radical Extremism in Pakistan. Through this project she is aspiring for a peaceful and prospers future for Pakistan.

Welcome Remarks

Excellencies,

Distinguished Guests,

Ladies and Gentlemen

Assalam- O -Alaikum, May Peace Be With You

I am extremely proud to welcome you this morning to our seminar on “Innovating Means to Resolve Radical Extremism in Pakistan”, which relates to our vision beyond the current peril. The exercise is a milestone in our search for societal harmony in the country and revival of our cultural ethos. This also marks the beginning of project SALAM which indeed is the flagship of our current endeavors towards de-radicalization and counter radicalization.

At the outset, let me welcome you all to this august gathering of experts and opinion leaders, from home and abroad, sharing with us the values that we all uphold. I am glad to particularly note the kind company of Prof Dr Richard Bonny, Dr Mehmat Özcan, Maj. Gen (R) Dr Anwar bin Majid Bin Anwar Eshki, Mr. Tarek Mishkhas and other dignitaries.

We are privileged to have amongst us the former Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee, Pakistan, General (R) Ehsan ul Haq, Chairman Advisory Board CPGS as our Keynote speaker. I also take note of the presence of other distinguished members of our Board who are amongst a galaxy of eminent, policy-relevant experts patronizing the Centre.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The Centre for Pakistan and Gulf Studies (CPGS) though a nascent think tank, has today embarked upon project SALAM, which aims at mobilizing our national resources to wind-down the menace of radicalization. The project rests upon diagnostic as well as prescriptive approaches to the problem in the aftermath of the so called ‘war on terror’, its repercussions on the Pakistani society and the likely US withdrawals from Afghanistan. The prescription relates to a mixed bag of de-radicalization and counter-radicalization measures, based on lessons drawn from other models.

In carrying forward the project, we are hoping to undertake a multidimensional approach and carry out a comprehensive plan of action under our mega Project SALAM, that entails sensitizing the society, accessing all possible groups and institutions, link their efforts, act to persuade decision makers and finally manage and monitor the progress. Our seminar today is one of the first steps that should auger well for progress that we intend to make in the days ahead.

Distinguished Guests,

Today, radical extremism has become the greatest threat to global peace and security. The global character of this menace is reflected in its unselective behavior. Every region, nation, civilization, religion and state, directly or indirectly, is facing this complex challenge. However, over the time, a consensus has emerged at international level that extremism and terrorism is a global menace and should be tackled with collective efforts but with diverse means and tools, according to the context of the problem, level of threat, local dynamics, compulsions and available resources at hand.

As we all know, Pakistan has been the hardest hit victim of violent extremism, we have lost more than 50,000 precious lives and our economic loss exceeds hundred billion dollars. We have been fighting against this menace for more than 13 years now. Ironically, we as a nation have been unable to respond effectively to this problem. There is an inadequate understanding of the problem therefore, a national response in this regard in terms of a consensus based policy is lacking. In a nutshell, the situation has become complicated and complex in nature. Over the decades, the radicalism has taken root so deeply into the social fabric of Pakistani society that identification of the reasons behind this social ill-construct has become difficult to grasp.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

We cannot afford to leave this menace un-attended any longer. Our endeavor aimed at both diagnosis and prescription should now come into a fuller play. The exercise must lead us to re-investigate the root causes and evolution of radical approaches in our society, besides establishing the impact of radicalization. This treatment must lead up to innovative means to resolve the situation while learning from other experiences and of course, in keeping with ground realities of our own setting. This search for a forward move attains critical importance as we are hoping to witness the US drawdown from our neighborhood and a new turn of events that carries the potential of impacting a trans-national setting.

I take this opportunity to refresh you, once again, on the time-efficient and focused approach that CPGS is undertaking to unfold project SALAM and this particular seminar as our first input towards the larger goal. SALAM means peace, which reflects the core objective of CPGS, word SALAM  is derived from the Islamic greeting which is extended to everyone at the first meeting to offer cordial welcome, respect and convey peace and blessings. Each letter of the word SALAM has a meaning in itself and denotes a required action in desired order of priority:

Sensitize, Access, Link, Act and Monitor.

The project does not end at an academic exercise and seminar, but goes well beyond the prescription of broad policy contours, mechanism for policy development, and ensuring implementation through monitoring and engagement. It’s a comprehensive framework that will hopefully lead us to a holistic, viable, feasible and rational policy to exterminate the menace of violent extremism from Pakistani society.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Change can’t be achieved over night, but it will take a long and consistent effort—perhaps as long as it took to radicalize a peaceful society into a radical one. But if there is the political will and a comprehensive and well defined policy, the change becomes inevitable.

In mapping out a way forward, we are benefitting from the successful experience of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (where I have lived for more than 20 years) and of Asian countries closer to our societal challenge. However, in this exercise we are relying upon the experience of others only to evolve a model consistent with Pakistani realities. We are indeed faced with much bigger challenges and resource constraints which the others may not necessarily have. Yet we have other advantages such as a vibrant electronic and print media that can be harnessed to cultivate a culture of tolerance and rule of law as natural corollaries of the founding ideology of our nation.

Ladies and Gentleman,

De-Radicalization and counter radicalization, as a process, is gaining eminence in many parts of the world. There is general consensus in societies that the national security interests are better served by re-integrating the radicals back into the society. By radicalism, I refer to a socio-psychological process of incremental commitment to radical trends may it be political, ideological or religious. Radicalism is, therefore, a risk factor that can transform into violence and push societies into anarchy.

Pakistan’s commitment to struggle against violent extremism has remained total and unwavering. Pakistani civil society is determined to support all efforts in partnership with other national institutions and in line with the constitution of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan. In this context, we are hoping to unfold broad parameters of a national policy aimed at looking beyond the era of radicalization and to the re-birth of a societal harmony in the country. Needless to say, that any campaign against radicalism and terrorism has only succeeded when underpinned by unyielding political will.

On behalf of the CPGS, I thank you, once again, for being with us today in our common endeavor to re-discover Pakistan’s cultural ethos and search for a harmonious and progressive society. I wish you a very productive engagement in our two-day deliberations. And I am confident that with our sincere efforts we will mark a way forward to achieving Peace in our beloved country Pakistan, Insha Allah.