This is a Pakpotpourri Exclusive
The attack on Karachi Naval Base has sharply brought in focus once again, extremism in Pakistan. The attack is manifestation of a wound festering. This and other like attacks are symptoms of a disease that needs to be treated.
First and foremost, elements within Pakistan must desist from supporting, in any way, the terrorist outfits. The monster created in the days of Gen. Zia has turned. If Taliban are blamed today for extremist actions, USA too, must equally be blamed, to quote Hilary Clinton, who stated , “The people we are fighting today, we helped create. We did it because we were locked in this struggle against the Soviets”. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X2CE0fyz4ys
For some elements within Pakistan, the support means an extra arm to be used against India. The festering wound that is Kashmir, looms large over the relationship of both the countries. USA and other western countries must give a serious thought to resolve the issue, behaving like the proverbial ostrich will have a cascading effect and desist from allowing the two neighbors from enjoying good relations, cosmetic steps notwithstanding. Here lies the rub. Many in Pakistan, question, the intentions of USA, given the presence of a strong China in the region, as an upcoming super power to do so. They state, India and Pakistan, at continuous war with each other, suits USA. However, if a lasting solution to peace in the region is sought, this crucial issue cannot be over looked.
A friend of mine, correctly wrote,” As a scientist I believe first in Diagnosing the Disease (the Cause) to cure it with Appropriate Medicine. This follows the same logic which we have used to find the causes of Electronic Systems sent in Space, which FAILED during Tests on Ground, by performing “Fault Analysis,” in order to get to the ROOT CAUSE of the PROBLEM!”
Secondly, Pakistan must undertake a systematic study through the length and breadth of the country, of the madrassahs present on ground. There is hardly any credible information on the unregistered madrassas. However, those, which are registered, are controlled by their own central organizations or boards. They determine the syllabi, collect a registration fee and an examination fee. They send examination papers, in Urdu and Arabic, to the madrassas where pupils sit for examinations and declare results. At independence there were 245, or even fewer, madrassas. In April 2002, Dr. Mahmood Ahmed Ghazi, the Minister of Religious Affairs, put the figure at 10,000 with 1.7 million students. They belong to the major sects of Islam, Sunnis and Shias. However, Pakistan being a predominantly Sunni country, the Shia ones are very few. Among the Sunni ones there are three sub-sects: Deobandis, Barelvis and the Ahl-i-Hadith (Salafi). Besides these, the revivalist Jamaat-e-Islami also has its own madrassas.The Saudi Arabian organization, Harmain Islamic Foundation, is said to have helped the Ahl-i-Hadith and made them powerful. Indeed, the Lashkar-e-Tayyaba, an organization which has been active in fighting in Kashmir, belongs to the Ahl-i-Hadith. Madrassas have always been supporting the poor and the lifestyles of the moulvis are spartan and closer to the poorer strata of society than the affluent ones. Pakistan must bring the non registered madrassas in the fold. There must be a monitoring body to over look their syllabi and workings. This was first bought in focus by the Lal Masjid incident, however, no focused steps have been taken since, to address this institution.
Thirdly, I strongly believe, that the rise in extremism is directly proportional to poverty, lack of fair opportunities to progress in life, injustices, and illiteracy. Unless and until, the government, both at the centre and the provinces, are willing to create a life of dignity to the common man, this rise will continue going up. Around four years ago, I taught a student who hailed from Swat. He and his brother were studying in Lahore. The father had died many years ago. They had a sister and a mother, who moved to Lahore, too, in due course of time. The reason for moving the family to Lahore was interesting. He told me that the Taliban would come to the residents’ houses and ask the able-bodied men of the family to join them. The ‘pay structure’ then ranged from Rs 20,000 to Rs 25,000 pak ruppees. Should the men die in action, the money would continue to be paid and in case of the marriage of a sister or a daughter, the Taliban organization would bear the full costs. For many, he said, in the absence of any job opportunities, this was just another plain job. Many embraced it. Not because of faith in their ideology, nor an undying belief in the cause, but just as a vocation. It does not necessarily follow that a great number do not believe within the ranks of the Taliban that they are answering to a higher calling. Of course they do. But a large number joins their ranks due to poverty, lack of opportunities, inability to improve their lot, having been made negative-minded after suffering injustices and, at times, just to seek power.
It was Aristotle who said,” It is better for a city to be governed by good men than by good laws”.
(The writer is a lawyer, based in Lahore & teaches in a University. She may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org).