Mishal: A Case Study of a Deradicalization and Emancipation Program in SWAT Valley, Pakistan
Keywords:Deradicalization, terrorist rehabilitation, counter-terrorism, disengagement, Pakistan
Nestled in the SWAT valley lies Pakistan’s earliest known deradicalization initiative for former militants, the Mishal Deradicalization and Emancipation Program (DREP). The Deradicalization program was launched following a military operation in 2009 against the Pakistan wing of the Taliban, namely, the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP). The program aimed to deradicalize and rehabilitate arrested militants, with what officials claim is a 99 percent success rate and with more than 2,500 former Taliban fighters now ‘reformed’. The program abides by a ‘no blood on hand’ policy, whereby it only takes in militants who have not caused any bodily harm to others. In this paper, we analyze the deradicalization program and highlight the limits and challenges it faces. The paper also highlights the common individual and environmental factors among the beneficiary population of the deradicalization program. This study finds that most participants of the program belonged to large or broken families with weak socio-economic profiles. Additionally, these individuals had very little technical knowledge of religion. This study also finds that the program is more oriented towards re-integration rather than deradicalization due to its policy of inducting only low and mid-level cadre militants. The program also has other severe limitations including lack of credible religious scholars, limited financial and human resources.
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