We all want to feel like we belong to something.
From the moment we enter adolescence and begin to understand society, we wonder “Where do I belong?” We look to something to identify with, a cause we can chain to the activist era of our lives. For that is youth – an exciting time where we learn of the world and tackle the problems, realize our goals and work towards them.
Take this excerpt from a: recent piece in the Daily Times
Muhammad Amir Rana, a terrorism researcher in Islamabad, told the Washington Post that his recent surveys indicated that radicalisation was on the rise among privileged Pakistani youth, who relate neither to the West nor to Pakistan’s impoverished masses.
“They feel alienated,” Rana said, director of the Pak Institute for Peace Studies, who added that such feelings have rarely led to violence. “So they try to identify themselves through religion.”
I understand that the youth are seeing their nation in turmoil – we are fighting a bloody war with terrorists while at the same time trying to solidify. A lot is happening.
But to take to radicalism amidst all this improvement? It is nothing short of appalling – this is the very radicalism that has created the cancer of extremism in our country – the very radicalism that has killed thousands of our people, and paralyzed the public into fear. This is the same extremist Islam that has caused the current instability that we are trying so hard to get out of!
I cannot think of these privileged people supporting radicalism without getting frustrated at their lack of compassion for fellow Pakistanis.
I always heard of the “drawing room politicos” as people who sat in their silk cushioned lounges and talked airily of what needed to be done. How many of these people go out into society and see first hand the traumatic poverty of millions of their countrymen? How many of them volunteer to help in their community? Do they write letters for better roads, better schools? Do these people actively work to improve the quality of life in Pakistan?
The answer is “no.” We cannot forget how welcome General Musharraf was in Pakistan. Once upon a time, he had supporters in drawing rooms across the wealthy neighborhoods. But he blocked the media, dismissed the Courts, and threw out the Constitution. Looking for a new identity, the youth have not set their eyes on radicalism.
To these people I say this:
Your identity is first as a human being. You are born a human, and you are then given a name. You belong to your family, your friends, your country and your religion. You can pledge your allegiance to any entity or idea that appeals to you. All great movements have had the support of the young, and that is the way humanity has progressed through time. We have pushed for equal rights for women, fair treatment of minorities, and equality under the law for all. That, actually, is all enshrined in Islam. To believe in an interpretation of Islam that goes against love and compassion is wrong. Someone is lying to you, feeding you ugly lies about our pure faith. Do not believe it. You are blessed to be wealthy. Now, think of your fellow man and how to help him. Do not fall to extremism, not when we are getting closer to ending it in our country.