Pak-origin politician to represent Norway in EU's top anti-terrorism body

Syed Sibtain Shah

OSLO: Norwegian-Pakistani Abid Qayyum Raja was appointed as a member of the top European anti-terrorist institution on Wednesday, with the politician vowing to address the region's "panic" owing to numerous terrorist attacks.

Affiliated with Venstre, the liberal party of Norway, Raja harbours the viewpoint that there is a reason to be seriously concerned when several of these extremists can enter or return to Europe. He looks at the war against extremism as a common struggle for the region.

Raja inclusion in the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) — one of the largest security-oriented intergovernmental organisations that assess terrorist threats — is of crucial importance since a number of Norwegians have travelled to Syria to join terrorist outfits.

At least 40 such people are still currently engaged in the fighting in the Middle East.

"The work in the OSCE is particularly important because over the last three years, there have been around 150 terrorist plots and attacks in 15 different European countries," said Raja, 42, who currently serves as a member and one of the four deputy presidents of the Norwegian parliament.

He said: "I look forward to my way of contributing to OSCE, and I think Europe has been in a panic, and now we must be able to quickly meet these challenges."

According to some experts, Europe — and especially Norway — faces a great challenge in order to deal with extremism, making Raja's task a demanding one.

"I shall work in the OSCE with my expertise on integration, cross-cultural dialogue, and basic values. We must manage to transfer liberal values to new generations.

"Europe will not be able to succeed in the fight against extremism without full freedom of expression, religious freedom, gender equality, and ethnic democracy, [or] without the participation of Muslims in the process," he stated.

Abdul Qayyum Raja, the Norwegian-Pakistani politician's father, was among the guest workers who had migrated to Norway in the 1970s.