Home / Opinion / Terrorism and Extremism | By Tehmina Maqbool Khattak
Terrorism and Extremism

Terrorism and Extremism | By Tehmina Maqbool Khattak

“Extremism is the taking of concessions for which there is no basis or truth. Whereas, terrorism is to transgress upon people by way of unjustly striking or killing them, with no proof (to justify these actions)”

Extremism and terrorism, how frequently we heed these lexis. On our news channels, in our drawing rooms, they seem to be the most repeated topics of debate. Yet how many of us have stopped to take a good, hard look at the nature of this beast and the price it has extracted from our country.

No religion is free from extremist tendencies, characterized by those who take their religion too far, those who categorize against difference, and those who occasionally draw on sadism to put across fervor for their faith. One can find examples of Muslim, Christian, Jewish and Hindu extremists.Extremism is not just limited to religion; it can be politically, economically or ethnically goaded. Regrettably, numerous forms of extremism subsist in Pakistan at present.On the other hand, what poses the prevalent threat to our country and our society in current times is that class of extremism which terrorizes and kills people even as claiming to speak in the name of Islam.

This is a somber problem for two reasons.The first is of course the alarming human costs that are suffered in terms of people killed and families damaged when extremists use violence to effect terrorist atrocities. The second is far more subtle, it’s the slow obliteration of thematerial of society, a breakdown in the unity of our country. By constantly directing on variances amongst people and discriminating against them on that basis, we run the risk of falling apart as a nation. And if extremists were to achieve their ultimate objective of taking mechanism over the country, just imagine the human rights abuses that would ensue. All one has to do is attend to the first-hand accounts of the people of Swat to know what a shocking outcome that would be.

It’s quite marked that extremism within our hub is something we can no longer afford to overlook. Nor will it support to endlessly responsibility foreign elements, for what we see everywhere us today. There may or may not be external impacts involved in assistant or funding such groups, but in the termination, it’s we who have permitted them to flourish within our zone. And yes, there is much to disagree with US foreign policy in Afghanistan and Iraq, and yes the Israelis are to be held by the values of international law in their behavior of the Palestinians. But this does not absolve Pakistanis of our accountability to tackle the extremism that has very much been aided and abetted by those amongst us.

And it’s not just madrassahs in our country we essential to take a quicker look at. Although a quantity of madrassah students have been found to grip extremist views, the masterminds behind most extremist movements and terrorist groups are polished and socially mobile. Let’s not forget, Osama bin Laden is a qualified engineer and belongs to one of the richest families in Saudi Arabia, and his deputy Ayman al Zawahiri is a medical doctor! That’s why it’s so important to address the problem of extremism that has been afflicting our university campuses for decades as well.

So let’s just come out and say enough is enough. It’s time we reclaimed our nation and our faith from a toxic ideology that has operated the tolerant and pluralistic faith of Islam and packed it as a political ideology whose end goal is the establishment of a totalitarian state. We have to be clear that refusing the point of view of extremists does not connect to speaking against Islam. And we have to leave no room for doubt that just as extremism has no habitation in Islam, it will not be tolerated within Pakistan.

Eradication of extremism and terrorism

Ever since the 16/12 Peshawar massacre, a general agreement among Pakistani civil and military leadership and civil society emerged for a conclusive blow to the threat of terrorism. The moratorium on implementations for convicts has been lifted, a National Action Plan has been framed and military courts have been set up to conduct rapid trials of terrorist suspects. For a practical and logical counterterrorism strategy, it is fundamentally important to know the root causes of terrorism.

Religious extremism is worldwide considered one of the basic reasons behind terrorism. In Pakistan, the military-mullah nexus formed at the height of the Soviet attack of Afghanistan, under the ideological support of Saudi Arabia and financial support of the US, is the basic cause of religious extremism. The huge investment in the Muslim clergy and mushrooming growth of religious seminaries all across the country improved the influence and power of the clergy. Since religious terrorism stops from extremism a successful counterterrorism strategy must coincide, curbing extremism and fundamentalism.

Madrassas (religious seminaries) are considered a main source of religious extremism in Pakistan. It is very challenging to ascertain the particular number of madrassas in Pakistan since there are no foolproof arrangements on the government level for proper registration of madrassas. The government of Pakistan conducted a survey in the start of 2009 according to which there were 16,662 madrassas all over the country out of which 4,509 did not provide information to the survey teams. The survey open that there were 1.549 million students (both sexes) enrolled in these organizations. It also recoded the number of students in unreachable madrassas as 0.450 million. These madrassas spend Rs 2.7235 billion yearly. Only 11,305 madrassas providing their financial expenditure statements but they declined to disclose sources of income. On October 5, 2009, Pakistan’s then interior minister, Rahman Malik, disclosed that there were 20,000 religious seminaries in the country. He told the lower house of parliament that an umbrella organisation namely the IttehadTanzeemat-e-Madaris Pakistan (ITMP) embodies five madrassa boards. Of them, WifaqulMadaris controls over 12,000 institutions while the remaining 8,000 are controlled by other boards. The percentage of madrassas belonging to dissimilar schools of thought is: Deobandis 70 percent, Barelvis 25 percent, Ahle hadiths 2.3 percent and Shia 2.7 percent of the total number.

These schools are excellent welfare setups where the poor get free boarding and cottage but there are some negative features too. Most of them communicate only religious education that products semi-literate religious scholars. Some of them sponsor negative thinking and spread hatred and violence. As per Pakistan’s Interior Minister ChaudhdryNisar, 10 percent of madrassas are complex in terrorism.

The above madrassa figures are very upsetting and need wisdom and vigilance on the government’s part to communicate a madrassa reforms strategy to confirm proper regulation over these madrassas. The government should work carefully with all madrassa boards to bring about changes to their syllabi to incorporate modern day education. To association the gap between religious students and mainstream society, at least 10 years of broad-based modern education must be made compulsory to get admission in madrassas. The government must immediately undertake a review to discover the exact number of madrassas and number of religious students in Pakistan including in FATA, All madrassas should be registered and nobody should be permitted to establish a madrassa without a No Objection Certificate (NOC) from the government. If any madrassa is establish indulging in extremism, militant activity or possessing any type of weapons, it must be sealed immediately and the administration of the madrassa should be take legal action under the Anti-Terrorism Act. The government must conductyearly financial audit of all madrassas to get their entire financial details, including sources of income, expenditure and charities. Foreign students and teachers in madrassas, not having truthful documents, must be forced to fulfil with these formalities, otherwise face deportation. The government should campaign a madrassa teachers’ training programme.

Poverty, deprivation, illiteracy and unemployment breed extremism. Practical data reveals that most terrorists be appropriate to the deprived and less privileged class. Therefore, poverty alleviation, unemployment reduction, promotion of education, sports and other recreational activities, and uplifting the overall socio-economic condition of the people can surely decrease extremism and terrorism.

An effective counterterrorism and anti-extremism strategy must attention on the extremist outfits disseminating hatred and religious bigotry. Extremist organisations deliver ideological foundations to the terrorists and also facilitate them in enrolling more terrorists. They programme the youth with fanatic ideology. Later, terrorists recruit and deliver them with lethal weapons to carry out terrorist activities. Various terrorist groups are actually the militant wings of extremist organisations. Effective and vigilant human intelligence on extremist organisations can lead to the hesitation of top terrorists. Extremist organisations must not be allowed to propagate hatred and must be dealt with severely according to the law of the land. The same should be done with mosques and other places of worship.

Pakistan also essentials to reform its law enforcing agencies, particularly the police. Equipped with state of the art technology, weapons, training and a high inspiration level, the police can become the first line of defence against terror in the cities and towns of the country. Depoliticising the Police is inevitable. Existing measures must be taken at the federal level to ensure effective communication and real time intelligence sharing among the civil and military intelligence trick and the other law enforcing agencies. The existing organisations must be made more vigilant and proactive for effective counterterrorism. The government must put systems and measures in place to prevent illegal border entering, deport all Afghan refugees back to Afghanistan, place effective vigilance on the foreign tasks in Pakistan, make a complete and comprehensive system and procedures to observer all trusts, NGOs, madrassas, mosques and other charitable organisations, develop information systems to give real time information and alerts about terror suspects and deploy it at the border crossings, cities’ entrances, airports, railway stations and bus stands and, first and foremost, at key civil and military installations. The government must embark upon cyber regulation, legislation and policy, and effective cyber investigation to counter terrorism. The media must black out coverage of terrorists and spread the communication of love, fraternity, tranquility and brotherhood.

The road towards de-radicalising Pakistan is opposite to what has been followed in the last four decades.As the first and leading measure, the security establishing must take the principal decision to part ways with the clergy and extremists. Secondly, after addressing the genuine concerns of the Pakistani military, the old doctrine of strategic seriousness must be re-entered.Due to internal turmoil, a substantial policy shift is visible in Pakistan’s policies but still a very strong story exists regarding the presence of the establishment’s blue-eyed militants and religious seminaries.

If the government, law enforcing and intelligence agencies could successfully confront the terror ideology, dry up their financing pools, stem militant recruitment, dismantle and destroy training facilities and apprehend, convict and execute terrorists, triumph is bound to come.

Terrorism and extremism in Pakistan

We cannot turn a ‘Blind Eye’ to the speedily increasing religious extremism and intolerance in our society. Sectarian violence and religious extremism is arandomthreat. History is sated with incidents of such sorts in many countries. The chauvinists and the evil minded selfish natured people are behind this repulsive act. Unfortunate is the fact that usually the Muslim countries are being continuously accused of promoting these evil acts and take ‘jihad’ in terms of terror.

In the case of Pakistan, Islam is significantly more complex, bound up as it is with languages, lineages, sects and local and regional identifications. Pakistan played a serious role in the 1979war of Afghanistan and risked its own stability. Unfortunately the government failed to address the after effects of the war and did not understand the future destruction it may bring to their land. The current wave of growing religious extremism in our country can be endorsed to internal and external factors.

Internally, real threat in Pakistan creates from domestic and internal security issues in the name of sectarian violence and religious extremism. Pakistan unfortunately has always been affected by these irresistible threats. The tragic significances of 9/11 led to a U-turn in the world political affairs and world saw the dawn of imperialism by super power in the name of ‘war against terror’. Pakistan existence an important member of the world community came into the fierce brunt of this tide of change. What should be understood before going ahead is that foreign forces can never dare to block in domestic affairs of any state until and unless that states inherent weaknesses and gaps provide them with the opportunity. The decision by our political rulers to be the front ally with U.S. even before the investigation were tend to be completed proves it to be bees in bonnet of our political system.

The 10 years havoc of this war has charged our state into harm of political, economic, social and religious chaos. Further, the dissection on the issue of blasphemy law, Raymond Davis case, Kerry Lugar Bill etc. has further fuel to the fire. The gap between the government and the society is spreading. In contrast to political strategic talks carried out by our government with U.S; a recent poll shows 57% of our population does not opine helpful about U.S. policies in our region. This invites other countries in and now it is like a piece of cake for the external powers to further divide an already divided nation. And so far they have done it quite successfully.

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