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In a perpetual state of mourning

By Saad Hafiz:

Tens of thousands of people have been killed in extremist violence in Pakistan since the late 1980s. The country has earned a reputation for being a hotbed of extremism and violence. The latest atrocity is the bomb blasts in Quetta targeting the Shia minority, which killed and injured over 200 people. The self-contained killing machines of the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ), the Tehreek-e-Taliban (TTP) and their acolytes are operating at full capacity and with total impunity, butchering vulnerable communities at will.

The Islamic Republic has clearly failed in its primary responsibility to protect the people, particularly the minorities and the weak from the extremist threat. James Madison aptly described this responsibility: “It is of great importance for a republic not only to guard the society against the oppression of its rulers, but to guard one part of society against the injustice of the other part…In a society under the forms of which the stronger faction can readily unite and oppress the weaker, anarchy may as truly be said to reign as in a state of nature, where the weaker individual is not secured against the violence of the stronger.”

As a standard cop-out, the leadership cites the lack of national ‘consensus’, a ‘faceless’ enemy and an army unsuited to unconventional warfare as its main challenges in fighting extremism. In reality, as the extremists accelerate their campaign of ethnic and sectarian cleansing, the state in turn cedes more sovereignty to these powerful non-state actors. It is somewhat surprising that a country that can claim to be an emerging nuclear triad state cannot train an effective counter-terrorism force as well. Many local security ‘analysts’ attribute Pakistan’s security focus and challenges to its tough geopolitical situation, including a hostile India and a militancy aggravated by the US-led war in Afghanistan. The nexus of the self-described highly ‘capable’ and ‘professional’ armed forces and the ‘vaunted’ intelligence apparatus with the same militant jihadists who kill the country’s citizens is conveniently ignored. The elected politicians and the democratic system itself serve as the easy fall guys for the systemic failure and inaction in dealing with extremism and terrorism.

The social dimension of extremism cannot be ignored as the curse of sectarianism and extremism is firmly imbedded in society. It feeds off the general disenchantment with the abysmal state of affairs in the country — poor governance, corruption and joblessness included. This is reflective in the generally muted and sporadic responses to serious acts of terror. In other Muslim societies, these acts would have a resulted in declining support for the terrorists among the population, who would increasingly question the tactics and killings of innocent Muslims. Instead, Sunni extremists are emboldened in their aim to hijack the state as the Muslim majority veers towards intolerance and fanaticism. Many Pakistanis actually believe that the suicide bombings will stop once Pakistan finds its destiny as a Sunni Muslim state with complete Shariah (with presumably no room for apostates), and the hated Americans have withdrawn from the region.

The prospects for keeping the extremists from taking over the country appear bleak. The country has received an increasing number of body bags in return for its counter-terrorism efforts thus far, which are a combination of appeasement, negotiation and limited military action. To regain lost ground, the government and society should consider and support decisive military action along the lines of the Sri Lankan effort against the Tamil Tigers. The other aspect is to make Pakistani society less hospitable to fanatics and extremists, which is linked to discouraging state institutions from cultivating extremists for future strategic use.

It is also clear that armed ideological insurgencies cannot be defeated by military action alone. Political means and social action too are required, especially if the insurgencies’ moral credibility is to be eroded and challenged. The longer-term solution to extremism lies in citizens deciding whether they want to live in a secular liberal democracy or in a theocracy and under a tyranny. Pakistan’s future lies in the young people realising the virtues of democracy and human rights. Politicians and other leaders must speak out publicly on these issues to discourage the atmosphere of intolerance and radicalisation from spreading. Otherwise, Pakistanis will continue to bury the dead and get used to living in a perpetual state of mourning.

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14 Responses to "In a perpetual state of mourning"

  1. the way out United States Safari Mac OS says:

    Pakistan is suppose to win. God is in Pakistan’s side.
    You are not explaining why Pakistan is not winning.

    Not many historical example of country falling in the abyss
    of lawlessness able to recover and be prosperous without civil war
    to clear the air.

    Elite want to hold onto power. middle class doesn’t want to spend
    money on the poor.
    poor has only one answer which is revolution thru God.

    Strategic Assets, Strategic Depth, Enemy Country, Kafirs, blah blah blah

    Good luck with that. Pakistan should be left alone to sort itself out.

  2. Rex Minor Germany Google Chrome Windows says:

    Democracy comes to life when the representatives of the people come together, establish a constitution and the laws to handle and administer the social and economic needs of the Nation. Sharia is made up of laws which the representatives of the people in a muslim country legislate.

    To follow the above course one needs to make use of the server which the God almighty, the creator has implanted in humans together with the mind and the soul. Use your brain was what the Prophet of God(pbuh) said to one of the curious desciples.

    The rest is all a distraction, political spin and cannot equate to millions of peoples who are neither represented nor able to express their woes and desires. It is time that people learn about the history and the power which they have to change course an stear themselves out of the current hopeless conditions.

    Rex Minor

  3. Mullah Ki Daarhi United States Google Chrome Windows says:

    regarding rapes in india just read below how women are treated during anti muslim riot in india,
    Muslim women were singled out. According to many Indian and foreign sources,
    including a Human Rights Watch account and a report by
    an international
    research team called “Threatened Existence: A Feminist
    Analysis of the
    Genocide in Gujarat,” women were stripped, gang-raped,
    often publicly, and in
    almost all cases then burned or hacked to death.
    reason the violence reached such extremes was that the state
    stood back and didn’t intervene to stop the Hindu attacks and even
    victims that it couldn’t protect them. As if the bloodletting
    horrific enough, Modi subsequently dismantled the shelters constructed
    by private organizations for dispossessed Muslims, calling them “child-breeding

  4. R India Google Chrome Windows says:

    Saad Hafiz,
    How’re you different from your country of mourners when you neatly ignore Pakistan’s perpetual efforts to foster peace amongst its neighbours in all directions? Who can forget Musharraf’s Kargil peace initiative after the Indian army had crossed over the LOC and threatened to occupy pakistani soil? Who can forget peace-messiahs like ajmal kasab ( peace be upon him) and the great sacrifices made by his kin in promoting international peace and brotherhood?
    As long as you choose to ignore the efforts of such people big [musharraf] and small[kasab] , Pakistani society will remain unaware of
    the real psyche that drives this great nation towards its destiny.So, Arise! Awake! Allah is with you and your great nation.

  5. Romain United States Google Chrome Windows says:

    Saad sb,

    I believe that the root cause of extremism in Pakiland results from its founding fathers unwillingness to root out feudalism. The pre-disposition of Islam towards authoritarianism (as you pointed out in your previous board) does not help either.

    Extremism in Pakiland is akin to Maoism in India in that both are a revolt against the status quo and a complete failure to address the social/economic injustices perpetuated on the lowest strata of society.

    (One still needs recruits for the suicide bombers. The middle class doesn’t seem to be volunteering)

    We have seen such revolutions in the past which then were successfully hijacked to serve the needs of the few. Pakiland seems to be in the throes of one.

    Unfortunately or fortunately, the elite will lose this revolution. It is a question of numbers. If the numbers of the revolutionaries were small, then there wouldn’t be a need for one in the first place.

    So there will some futile resistance by the minority haves and there will be more and more body bags till such a time when the elite throw in the towel and leave the country or simply cave-in. Middle class is rather a strange breed. While it hobnobs with the elite, it is more than willing to be on the winning side and looks to become the new elite.

    I don’t know any solution – does anybody!!!

  6. saad Canada Internet Explorer Windows says:

    Romain sb:

    I do not see the connection between the abolishment of feudalism and religious terrorism. Sure there are many undercurrents in society which may all add up to the prevailing social conditions including economic deprivation and violence. But religious terrorism in Pakistan which is relatively modern Ziast phenomenon has more to do with state nurture of a narrow Sunni ideology. The solutions are counter-terror in the short term and for democratic exclusionist structures to work in the longer term.

  7. Rex Minor Germany Google Chrome Windows says:

    The good news is that according to Hillary Clinton, AQ was a foreign entity in Afghanistan and Pakistan and has left to countries where it originaly came from. Afghanistan and Pakistan are now left with their home made pudding!

    Rex Minor

  8. Romain United States Google Chrome Windows says:

    Saad sb,

    you may call it terrorism, I see it more of a under-privileged trying to assert itself. Instead of Mark they are using the Quran to justify their acts. If they win then it would have been worth it – just like it was for the Soviets and the Chinese.

    Would you prefer that they use Marx instead of the Quran – would it give them more legitimacy?

  9. Romain United States Google Chrome Windows says:

    that should read Marx instead of Mark

  10. saad Cayman Islands Google Chrome Windows says:

    Romain sb:

    Many thanks for your kind comment on my writing on RHR’s interesting post.

    I have always been troubled by legitimacy obtained from the barrel of a gun. I still believe perhaps wrongly that democratic evolution is the best way forward even for the under-privileged despite the hit and miss and time involved. India while not perfect is a good example of political and economic progress within a evolutionary democratic model.

    Terrorism in whatever name is unacceptable to me.

  11. Romain United States Internet Explorer Windows says:

    Saad sb,

    I appreciate your stand on terrorism. I am suprised though that you give the example of India.

    The first thing the politicians did in India (before the Indians opened up the economy in the 90s like Pakistan always had) was to enact land reforms in the 60s and 70s. In the fifties itself, feudalsim was eliminated and in the 60s/70s land reforms were enacted and all the Rajas and Maharajas were wiped out.

    If this had not been done, the number of Maoists would be 10 times more.

    I hope you realize that there are more Maoists in India than the number of Taliban (good or bad) in Pakiland.

    That is why I said that Pakistan with its more open Economy in the sixties is now on the verge of a revolution — all due to its founding fathers /leaders not enacting land reforms and eliminating feudalism, which was the point of my first post.

  12. saad Cayman Islands Google Chrome Windows says:

    Romain sb:

    Pakistan has always been on the verge of something but has never quite fulfilled its promise! I take your point about the beneficial effect of abolishing feudalism in India vs not doing so in Pakistan but comparing the objectives of Maoists (whatever their number) to those of the religious terrorists in Pakistan is a stretch.

  13. Romain United States Internet Explorer Windows says:

    Saad sb,

    both want a totalitarian society which they believe will be an egalitarian one – reason for my comparision.

  14. saad Cayman Islands Google Chrome Windows says:

    Understood Romain sb. Egalitarian societies sought at a barrel of a gun hold no appeal for me.

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