Extremism in Pakistan

This is a Pakpotpourri Exclusive

By: Yasmeen Ali  

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 yasmeen.a.9@gmail.com).

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  • Portugheis Alberto  On May 24, 2011 at 11:25 am

    Good article.

    One has to remember all the time that Governments, Banks and the military know that there is nothing better,than Religion in order to promote wars and its accompanying business. The more madrassas, mosques, churches you have, the better for those involved in the war business.

  • Parvez Amin  On May 24, 2011 at 11:55 am

    Your point on poverty being at the root of the problem is very valid – your ‘sword’: bring the religious schools into the fold exactly right. Thank you.

  • Zahid Karamat  On May 24, 2011 at 2:32 pm

    Good again! You’re getting with it!

  • A Malik  On May 24, 2011 at 2:35 pm

    There are areas other than the extremism that need to be taken a coignizance of. It was a dare devil attack by trained force – there is no doubt about it. For them it was a one way mission. Are they really then extremists that you are speaking of? Is this not the first time that the assets have been targetted rather than the human beings? and then who are these TTP fellows? Are they linked up with Mulla Umar’s taliban? If that be so then how come their targets are not congruent to the taliban in Afghanistan? TTP fellows target the namazis,masajids ,girls scjhools but never any gambling dens or the horse racing,wine stores ,alcohol outlets and all those areas considered un Islamisc from their point of view.
    Who are they then and where are they getting the most advanced explosive from which can onlly be made in established workshops and not by any way side outlet? Who pays 4-5 times FC pay to them? and why did they have to target the P3C I therefore leave it to you to ponder over the matter that these attackers are or may b ?

    • Yasmeen Ali  On May 24, 2011 at 2:40 pm

      Thank you for writing. Your points are valid. But I have tried to go beyond surface questions.
      Two, these people were used.By whom?

  • Ayesha Khan  On May 24, 2011 at 3:26 pm

    Academically correct but I beg to differ. This has nothing to do with Taliban. This was solely the Americans. They are now openly at war with us because we have pissed them off,the trigger was somehow the Lahore Davis incident, the NATO supply lines and other little signs of independence our army and agencies were showing. Moreover, US had this and more planned since the 70s when Bhutto got the Muslims together. Shah Faisal, Daoud of Afghanistan and Zulifkar Ali Bhutto, how did they all go? Also look at their own Presidents, who is assassinated either literally or credibility wise? Those supporting the Palestinians in anyway get done in.

    The attacks in Pak are also part of their greater plan vis a vis our nukes and their strategic hold in this region to counter both China and India and exploit the natural wealth of the entire region. I bet India is not too happy with these “invasions” and China knows exactly what is happening.

    Religion factors in this only because of the lobbying of the Zionists and the anti Islamic mood of USA. Moreover breaking down Pakistan makes it easy for them to manage this area. But they are going to fall flat on their face, just wait and see their economy is going to frazzle no matter how hard they try; also as in Germany it is the Jews who will bring them down.In fact, the American people, the good Christians will rise up against their pro zionist government.

    By the way the guy was not OBL, I saw his picture, this is all smoke and mirrors.

    Entry into a naval base is way beyond taliban capacity or intent level,it bespeaks of US training and an inside hand.

    Since the 80s, I saw a pattern to US Admin work here. they made all the NGOs that mushroomed in FATA and funds they spent at the times and places they spent and their history. Wake up guys we have been invaded by a super power and we are at war. Europeans sense it but they are wondering how much of this Islamic terrorist BS propaganda is true and what will it cost them if they show an open hand against this global bully. In fact CIA has lost sense of perspective and are going all out targeting us, someone in our forces has really cheesed them off also.

    I am not privy to any inside info but knowing their history and ours, and the global issues, this is my interpretation of the writing on the wall.

    • Yasmeen Ali  On May 24, 2011 at 4:37 pm

      Good comments Ayesha. This was my second article after ATTACKED: Naval Base Karachi. There will be a third. I look forward to your views there too. All angles cannot possibly be covered in one article.

  • Sarwer  On May 24, 2011 at 4:32 pm

    I agree with Alberto totally.

    • Bajwa  On May 25, 2011 at 1:06 am

      It was wrong to fund Mujahiddin to get rid of Soviets.State must carry its own burdens, and not ask for a helping hand from the Church. US could have funded Pakistan to go into Afghanistan to fight the Soviets. It is wrong to think that Soviet system collapsed because of their intervention in Afghanistan. The figures just don’t add up., my dear Secretary of States. It looks they don’t teach econometrics at Yale Law School.Anyway thanks for being hones and admitting that US started the Mujahid Express.


      • Portugheis Alberto  On May 25, 2011 at 1:07 am

        You are absolutely right when you say “It is wrong to think that Soviet system collapsed because of their intervention in Afghanistan”.But for the rest, I humbly think that you err. You seem to look at things from the point of view that “politicians are seeking peaceful solutions”. Sadly, this is not what they are paid for. They MUST stimulate their country’s economy and this means, most of the times, to export weapons. Now, how can they keep exporting if politicians don’t organise (with the help of the Church and the Media) armed conflicts? Factories could not pay their employees if their bombs didn’t explode and Armies didn’t order more.

  • Salman Abbasy  On May 24, 2011 at 5:31 pm

    Good appraisal. Do take note of problem arising on another front – the ongoing terrorism case of Chicago businessman Tahawwur Rana accused of providing support for the 2008 Mumbai attacks.
    The government’s leading witness, David Coleman Headley, and the defendant attended Cadet College Hasanabdal together. Headley said the ISI provided US$25,000 for his trips to India posing as representative of Mr. Rana’s company for scouting locations and he gave hours of video of potential targets in Mumbai to his handlers in both ISI and Lashkar. To corroborate Headley’s allegations, Justice Department prosecutors displayed evidence of his e-mail exchanges and phone calls with Maj Iqbal, his ISI handler.
    David Coleman Headley’s family connections are grist for the American and Indian media mills. He was born Sayed Daood Gilani in Washington, DC, where his father Sayed Salim Gilani worked for the Voice of America and his American mother, Alice Serrill Headley, worked as a secretary at the Pakistani embassy in Washington. When his parents divorced, he returned to Pakistan with his father who married again and went on to become Director General of Radio Pakistan in 1984. Headley went to live with his mother in the United States in 1977 but moved between the two countries. His half-brother, Sayed Danyal Gilani, served as public relations officer with Prime Minister Yousaf Reza Gilani before being posted as press attaché in the Pakistani embassy in Beijing.

    • pakpotpourri2  On May 25, 2011 at 12:53 am

      Times India, the Pakistan Hate Spread Paper had this story as lead news yesterday. Yes, I do know this as reported by the media. The media, I take with a pinch of salt owing to more bend towards serving the interests they are associated with, rather than with honest reporting.

  • Shaikh Mohammad  On May 25, 2011 at 1:05 am

    Please, please, why I ask one ignores the presense of US Army personnel in Pakistan AND Drone attacks by USA killing innocent people. Remember America’s role is to kill, kill, and kill. US forces are death squads. Remember Hugh Chavez called Bush a devil. Imam Khomeini called death to America. Why Why Why. Because USA is trying to control the whole world by its brute force.

    Shaikh Mohommad

  • Faisal Imam  On May 25, 2011 at 2:19 am

    where have all the good men gone?they have been weeded out by the engineered electoral process.Who should take responsibility?Why don’t we weed out the black sheep of our primary institutions,the Armed Forces and the ISI?
    Good Laws are made by good people;hire good people to enforce these laws.Also enforce the Laws.our judiciary has allowed convicted people to hold their jobs and also get elected.
    If we want to save Pakistan start cleaning our ranks immediately.M tried initially,backed down when Gen Amjad was going to arrest an ex-General.Since then it is a field day leading to NRO.General free,everybody free,why not;that is equity.Forget the justice.

  • Salim Ullah  On May 25, 2011 at 2:25 am

    Treatment is in maintaining distance from USA and Afghan war.

  • Bajwa  On May 25, 2011 at 4:09 pm


  • Bajwa  On May 25, 2011 at 4:10 pm

    I don’t think politicians seek peaceful solutions. I think politicians are war mongers.

    • Portugheis Alberto  On May 25, 2011 at 4:11 pm


    • Arif Khan  On May 27, 2011 at 1:32 am

      Big Balwa You are expecting Miracles from wild people??? If you blow a Cat thru its anal hole it doesnt become a tiger??? You are talking like an educated, rational person, and the Talibans are a Step ahead of the Neolithic age…all the stuff you recommended is “JIBBERISH” to them……..Arif

  • gh haider  On May 27, 2011 at 1:25 am

    A brief and to the point analysis of the problem.
    Our friends must help resolve the Kashmir problem if they want whole hearted support of all the elements of our society towards dealing with this menace. There definitely exists an opinion in some important and sizeable segments of Pakistani society including some in the armed forces that we need to have cordial relations with these jihad groups to be of help in any future war with India over Kashmir. Pakistani nation, with the Kashmir issue amicably settled with India, can be a much more effective and willing partner of USA in combatting terrorism.
    Madrassahs definitely need to be closely supervised and controlled. There is no second opinion about it. However, so far the govt. has demonstrated its total inability to handle this issue properly. Our Saudi friends have given this gift to us. Somebody should just ask the Saudis to let us know for knowledge and guidance of Pakistanis as to what is the system of Madrassahs in their country ? Are they as loose and independent as the ones they have helped establish in Pakistan ? If not then are Saudis our friends or enemies ????
    It is the most alarming fact that suicide bombers are available in Pakistan purely for cash and without any consideration for jihad or other religious obligations etc. It becomes most alarming because in this scenario there is a strong possibility that at least some of the suicide bombings are being carried out by bombers purchased by the enemies of Pakistan for motives other than the usual grievance of the jihad groups against Pak-US coalition.


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