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Friday, 2 October 2015

Religious intolerance is another factor

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Today’s Pakistan is facing democratic turmoil. A path chartered by the military regime of Ayub Khan, Yahya Khan then of Zia-ul-Haq was altered by yet another military regime that of Musharraf. All these regimes produced political instability, poor governance, institutional paralysis, by passing the rule of law, socio-economic downfall and so on. These fragile conditions along with deteriorating law and order situation have provided a fertile ground for terrorism to grow.

Furthermore, lack of proper government set-up and lack of coordination and information sharing between various institutions of government is also a cause of behind the escalating terrorist activities. Not to talk of providing security to common people, our law enforcing agencies (LEAs) have completely failed to protect high officials of the country. In the absence of law and proper trial the terrorists are entrenching their roots firmly. Failure of the (LAEs) to bring the terrorist to book has emboldened terror mongers to strike at a target of their choice at will. Schools, hospitals, markets and places of worship have become their favourite targets.

The soviet Afghanistan war was the most critical event responsible for spreading militancy and intolerance in Pakistan. A fundamental change that altered the very character of Pakistani society occurred after establishment of the soviet backed communist regime in Afghanistan. The aftermath of the soviet withdrawal exposed the damage, transformation of violence and Weaponisation into Pakistani society. It ultimately plagued Pakistan with a new trend commonly referred as “Kalashnikov Culture” and “Talbanisation”.

Religion became the dominant force during the Zia regime when the Islamization of laws and education became a state policy. And the Islamic legislation was promulgated and a number of Islamic enactments were made, including the Hudood and blasphemy laws. One may also mention the vital role of the jihadis in their fight against the Soviet military occupation with the American support, as well as the generous patronage extended by the government to the religious parties and groups. It may be added that various religious groups benefited from the support they received from abroad, in particular from Saudi Arabia and Iran.

Religious Madrassah is not something new for the Islam or our country. But after Russian attack on Afghanistan it took a new dimension. They were being used as recruitment centres for jihadis. Thousands of Mujahedeen were trained and sent to Afghanistan for so-called jihad. After the fall of Russia, a sizeable number of the jihadis who returned to Pakistan got involved in terrorist activities.

Religious intolerance is another factor which is adding fuel to the fire of terrorism. youth, educated through religious Madrassahs, are indoctrinated with extreme ideas. They become intolerant towards other religions and even other sects of their own religion. They impose their own extreme ideas and vent their fanaticism thorough violent actions. Intolerance makes society jungle. It is proving destructive phenomenon for social harmony, political stability, and economic growth.

The soviet Afghanistan war was the most critical event responsible for spreading militancy and intolerance in Pakistan. A fundamental change that altered the very character of Pakistani society occurred after establishment of the soviet backed communist regime in Afghanistan. The aftermath of the soviet withdrawal exposed the damage, transformation of violence and Weaponisation into Pakistani society. It ultimately plagued Pakistan with a new trend commonly referred as “Kalashnikov Culture” and “Talbanisation”. This was perhaps an end to our long established pluralistic culture and values. Result was a wave of vicious cycle of Sectarian and Inter-sect and Interfaith violence/terrorism.

Religious extremism that took its roots in Pakistan after the Islamic Revolution in Iran in 1979 is proving venomous for Pakistan. The increased danger of sectarian motivated acts of violence, have gained in power and influence over the recent past. External as well as internal influences have impacted the sectarian issues and have served to further intensify the magnitude and seriousness of the problem. Sectarian violence, therefore, was an extremely rare and unheard of phenomenon in Pakistan with sectarian disputes being very localized and confined rather than being frequent and widespread.

This religious extremism took a new shape of terrorism after 9/11. After the incident of 9/11 suicide bombing in Pakistan has become a norm of the day. The American invasion and occupation of Afghanistan, as well as the military operation in Pakistan, along with the American drone attacks, have served to fuel religious radicalism leading to violent reaction. The breakdown of state structures in Afghanistan created a void which was quickly filled by groups and individuals who took it upon themselves to continue the lost battle. Some of them also intruded into Pakistani tribal areas, thus inviting the US displeasure. Flushing out these foreign fighters by Pakistani security forces made Pakistan a battle ground, as foreign militants and some of their local hosts, joined hands to counter the security forces.
The religion is also impacted by the war against terrorism. The religion of Islam is perceived to be the one tolerating extremism and terrorism abroad. In the western world people equate violence, abuse against women and minority rights, and several acts of terrorism like suicidal bombing and coercion with Islam and Muslims. Whenever any such inhuman act takes place they tie it with Islam and its followers. When in the UK terror acts were committed the authority blamed it on Pakistani citizens for instance. And why these days Pakistanis are discriminately interrogated and have to be screened before they inter the US is due to the fact that they are Pakistanis and Muslims.

Thorough analysis of the causes of terrorism and its ineffaceable impacts indicate that in Pakistan this phenomenon has not come to fore overnight. It has taken decades to flourish and involves many factors.




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