Will to fight terrorism?

The curse for our social fabric



Bacha Khan University attack was a Black Day for Pakistan. The purpose of such attacks is undoubtedly to cripple a society with fear, destroy the social fabric by creating divisions, creating chaos and mayhem, establish lawlessness as the law of the land and bring the state apparatus to its knees.

Regarding the Charsadda tragedy, many friends from KP tell me there had been a general alert for a security threat for the past few days before terror struck again. Two questions basic in nature raise their head. One: did the institutions like courts, schools, universities that are enclosed buildings and thereby better manageable and can be monitored, beef up their security? Two: who were the local collaborators for the attack? Reportedly, three suicide bombers had entered District Charsadda, at least two of which were of Afghan descent.

Let us get the basics clear here.

No one must be allowed to challenge the sovereignty of a state. These people who are at the forefront of terrorism are mere pawns of vested interests being used to serve political interests. Yes, there can be and there are those directing the orchestra from abroad. To quote Sartaj Aziz who was addressing the Foreign Ministers’ Forum at the Institute of Business Administration (IBA), Karachi, ‘the country had ample evidence of Indian interference and promotion of terrorism in the country.’ The reality is, even if this is true, there are people or groups within who believe that what they are doing is for God and that theirs is the right belief to subscribe to.

Military action alone cannot curb this mindset. To curb the mindset, funding of terrorist outfits must be choked, the collaborators, protagonists picked up and dealt with. The need of good governance assumes great importance, with better distribution of funds to education, health care, employment opportunity among masses. It must trickle down to grass-roots levels.

It is important to ensure divisions within the social fabric of the society by vested interests are not allowed. Only inclusive steps emanating from good governance can deliver. Not military steps alone. The divisions of ethnicity, caste, religion must be overcome. This is an uphill task. Bringing in the underprivileged in the mainstream must be a concentrated effort of the government. Madrassas reforms are a part of this concentrated effort. This is one of the salient features of NAP as well. A registration of these seminaries has become a must. Equally important is the syllabus being taught there. This must be centralised and developed on positive lines to make the students positive and contributing members of the society. The quality of education offered in these seminaries offers no employment opportunities to its graduates, its students. It is equally important to know exactly where each seminary is being funded from. Regarding Punjab, ‘After nearly a year-long denial, authorities in the Punjab government have finally admitted that some 17 Muslim and non-Muslim countries were contributing hundreds of millions of rupees to around 1,000 religious seminaries in the province. The disclosure was made by the special branch of Punjab police in a secret document submitted to Chairman Senate Standing Committee on Rules of Procedure and Privileges Senator Col (retd) Tahir Mashhadi.’ (February 17, 2015)

Yet another report published in Pakistan Today says, “Punjab Inspector General of Police (IGP) Mushtaq Sukhera on Wednesday said that 147 madrassas in the province are receiving foreign funds. Sukhera informed the Senate Standing Committee on Rules of Procedure and Privileges (SSCRPP) that there were in fact nearly 150 madrassas that were receiving funds from foreign countries.” (March 4, 2015)

According to another newspaper report, “During Friday’s session of the Senate, Minister of State for Interior Baligur Rehman informed the House that Middle Eastern countries namely Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar, Iran and the United Arab Emirates were giving aid to religious seminaries in three provinces. According to the report presented before the Senate, 23 religious seminaries in the country are receiving foreign assistance. Out of the 23 seminaries, five belong to the Shia sect and are located in Balochistan. Other seminaries are based in KP, Sindh and Balochistan and are part of the Sunni sect. No information was given with regards to the province of Punjab. However, reports have said that the seminaries in Punjab are not receiving any assistance.” (January 30, 2015)

Michael Busch writing for Foreign Policy in Focus, discusses WikiLeaks cable stating that Saudi financed madrassas are more widespread in Pakistan and reports findings of Bryan Hunt, then-principal officer at the US consulate in Lahore, who reported a string of troubling findings on his forays into southern Punjab, where he “was repeatedly told that a sophisticated jihadi recruitment network had been developed in the Multan, Bahawalpur, and Dera Ghazi Khan Divisions”. (May 26, 2011) ‘Locals claim that the Deobandi or Ahl-e-Hadith maulana will generally be introduced to the family through these organisations. He will work to convince the parents that their poverty is a direct result of their family’s deviation from “the true path of Islam” through “idolatrous” worship at local Sufi shrines and/or with local Sufi Pirs. The maulana suggests that the quickest way to return to “favour” would be to devote the lives of one or two of their sons to Islam. The maulana will offer to educate these children at his madrassa and to find them employment in the service of Islam. The concept of “martyrdom” is often discussed and the family is promised that if their sons are “martyred”, both the sons and the family will attain “salvation” and the family will obtain God’s favour in this life, as well. An immediate cash payment is finally made to the parents to compensate the family for its “sacrifice” to Islam.”

Then there are those who pull the strings from across the borders as pointed out by Aziz.

We need to understand that we must meet and overcome the challenge facing us. We do not have a choice.

Do we have the will to fight terrorism?

Cross post http://www.pakistantoday.com.pk/2016/01/26/will-to-fight-terrorism/

The writer is a lawyer, academic and political analyst. She has authored a book titled ‘A Comparative Analysis of Media & Media Laws in Pakistan.’ She can be contacted at: yasmeenali62@gmail.com and tweets at @yasmeen_9.

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