At the Institute of Business Administration in Karachi there is just one hot topic: former student Saad Aziz.

He is being held by Pakistani security agencies over this alleged involvement in terrorist activities.

He is believed to be part of a group behind the killings of 45 Shia Ismailis and law enforcers.

Many like this social sciences student are surprised.

“What I’ve heard about Saad Aziz, is that he had no such tendencies to turn to extreme,” she said.

Aziz graduated in 2011. Four years later he gained international fame as a terror suspect.

45 members of the Shia Ismaili community were brutally killed on the outskirts of Karachi in May this year.

Days later the police said a tiny group of students were behind this massacre.

All of the students were from well off families and went to the country’s top ranking universities.

Saad Aziz lived a very liberal life. He had a girl friend and regularly held parties.

In custody he reportedly told the investigators that he wanted to film the killings of the Shia Ismailis.

Raja Umer Khatab, the head of the police’s Counter-Terrorism Department, warns a new form of extremism is emerging.

“I’m telling you that the people that we are going to fight now may be guised like you or me. You may see them attending weddings, in the shopping malls, mosques or may be throwing parties,” he said.

The group is also blamed for the murder of a human rights activist Sabeen Mehmood because of her views against violent teaching taking place at the Red Mosque.

Zohra Yousuf, the chairperson of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, sees the problems in the educational system.

“It does not lead to tolerance. There is over-enthusiasm of Islam. It glorifies Islam, which is fine. But it does not teach about other religions, about the personalities about other religion,” she said.

Civil society has made calls to changing the curriculum to promote greater tolerance for years.

Several attempts made by the government to deradicalize the curriculum received strong opposition by the religious groups.

After pressure from the civil society the governments in Punjab, Sindh and Khyber Pakhtunkhawa tried to take out some religious history form the textbooks.

Chapters on modern personalities like former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, social activist Abdul Sattar Edhi and girl’s education activist Malala Yousufzai were proposed to be added.

But the man leading the syllabus review was forced to leave the country following death threats from religious group.

Zohra Yousuf from the Human Rights Commission says the government needs to push through the changes if it wants to stop terrorism.

 “At the moment it just seems that the government and army is satisfied with killing the militants in North Waziristan or FATA. That’s one aspect. The starting point absolutely should be changing the textbooks and curriculum.  The government really to frame policies that promote tolerance otherwise Pakistan would continue to go down the route of violence and self-destruction,” she said.
 
 

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