Pakistan's Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has called on the country's clerics to contribute to the fight against terrorism, saying seminaries should help dismantle a "narrative" characterized by militants who kill innocent people.
In an address to clerics and heads of seminaries in Lahore on Saturday, the Pakistani premier said, "We need your support. You don't just have to speak against sectarianism and religious hatred. You must also rise against a provincial and territorial bias."
Sharif said the government's battle against terrorists across the country was close to success. He added, however, that ultimate victory would be achieved when influential figures of the religious community join the drive.
"Ultimate success against terrorism is not possible until religious scholars join hands with the government," Sharif stated.
"We need to create an alternative narrative to counter the 'religious logic' that terrorists create for terrorism, we have to reject it."
The Pakistani prime minister said militants had been benefiting from a "narrative" promoted in some religious circles to kill thousands of people over the last decade in hopes of overthrowing the government and enforcing Taliban-style laws in Pakistan.
Sharif said if clerics rejected that system of belief, militants would not be able to continue their hate campaign in the society.
Pakistan launched a massive crackdown on militants when a series of attacks claimed the lives of hundreds of citizens two years ago.
The clampdown has been mostly concentrated in tribal regions in the northwest and across the border with Afghanistan.
The Pakistani army claims it has killed thousands of influential militant figures in its operations. However, violence has continued unabated while many say the government has failed to address the root cause of the militancy.
Many observers believe some seminaries are supported by certain foreign governments that promote the Takfiri ideology and hatred against followers of other religious sects.
Pakistan has seen a surge in the number of attacks claimed by elements of Daesh, a Takfiri terrorist group based in Iraq and Syria, which seeks to expand its activity to lawless tribal regions in Pakistan and Afghanistan.
Sharif's call on clerics and seminary students came a day after the Pakistani parliament introduced a bill allowing military courts to launch legal proceedings against suspected militants.