Benazir Bhutto, former Prime Minister, once said, “Extremism can flourish only in an environment where basic governmental social responsibility for the welfare of the people is neglected. Political dictatorship and social hopelessness create the desperation that fuels religious extremism.”
Mohtarma, being a part of that environment, was well aware of it, where religious extremism was feeding under the shadows of Zia’s dregs. Radicalization is the main factor of extremism and extremism leads to terrorism, which according to statistics has caused 130,000 fatalities worldwide, between 2006 and 2013.
In Pakistan, around 60,779 people have lost their lives between 2003 and 2016 due to terrorism, and Pakistan stands at 4th out of 124 countries in a Terrorism Index, according to 2015 reports. Poverty and low standard of living are the main reasons for extremism. The majority of Pakistanis have middle class and lower middle class living standards, which has caused hopelessness and desperation. The quality-of-life index clearly shows the position of Pakistan; it stands at 93 out of 111 countries.
In Pakistan, political dictatorship, military involvement in politics instead of defending borders, the worst law and order situations, improper policies, poverty, inflation, corruption and extremism are the reasons behind state failure. A large number of Pakistani citizens are facing multiple problems in the social, economic, political, and cultural realms. They lack basic necessities, which has caused unrest and hopelessness among citizens. Inflation, poverty, political dictatorship, and social negligence are adding fuel to religious extremism, because of which poor families are sending their children to madrassas instead of schools (which low income families can’t afford). In madrassas, bread and residency are free for students.
Millions of the students are enrolled in seminaries instead of schools and because of it, the literacy rate index Pakistan stands at 159 out of 177. Students enrolled in these seminaries are brainwashed for jihad in the name of Allah. They are promised to have the highest level of life after sacrificing their lives in the name of Allah, with 72 virgins, lakes of milk and wine, fruit trees, and beautiful dresses waiting for them in heaven, and these are enough to made them suicide attackers and violators.
Now-a-days religion is the easiest and best way of making money and taking revenge against different sects. One can easily grab land, make a mosque (and a home for free within that mosque), get funds (domestic and international level), and enjoy the rest of one’s life without investing and struggling. There are thousands of such examples and average citizens have no authority to raise a voice against such illegal grabbing of land in the name of Allah. This system has been going on since the birth of Pakistan, and to do so is now easier than before.
Seminary schools or factories of jihad have contributed more in religious extremism. The policy of State patronization of militants who disturb the security situation in country and neighbors are the products of a military dictator, the then President of Pakistan General Zia-ul-Haq, who was the first in Pakistan to use religion (Islam) to legitimize his politics. He changed the mission of the State by replacing the national motto of Pakistan, “unity, faith and discipline”, to” Imaan (belief), Taqwa (Piety), and Jihad Fi-sabi-lillah (war in the name of Allah).
Seeds of extremism, which were sown decades before, have now become trees with deep roots within the country in the shape of seminaries to carry out terrorist activities. In 1947, there were less than 300 seminaries in Pakistan, which were increased to 3000 and now there are 26,000 registered seminaries in Pakistan (unregistered ones have also begun to flower). These seminaries (jihad factories), have educated the main leadership of Taliban since 1980.
Some of the corrupt rightwing politicians and political dictators are not serious regarding the security of the country. They are busy in fighting and blaming each other and have no concern about what is going on in the country. State and non-state bodies are least concerned in human development. Pakistan is moving at a snail’s pace in human development rankings, being 147 out of 188 in number. What the State and non-State bodies are concerned about is just filling up their bank accounts with taxes paid by poor people and getting power in legal and illegal ways. Studies show Pakistan stands at 143 out of 182 in corruption ranking. Others are those who, instead of giving a proper solution in the light of Islam, to basic problems, are interested to discuss women’s dressing, beating, rape, divorce, separation, and the like.
The government and security agencies fail to provide security to the people, despite a big piece of cake being kept for defense expenses. According to current figures, Rupees 860 Billion has been allocated for the Defense Budget (Budget 2016-17), with increase of 10.2 percent from last year, when it was Rs.780 billion. If we glance at the history of Pakistan, we will come to know that Pakistan has faced and is facing the worst terrorist attacks, even though Pakistan’s military is ranked 11th out of the 20 strongest militaries in the world, and the Inter-Service Intelligence Agency (ISI) is ranked the world’s best intelligence agency by American Crime News. Pakistan is at a high risk of dying of inhumanity and zero tolerance due to fanaticism. We can easily compare low tolerance behavior in seminary students to other students who are studying in school, colleges, or in universities. This zero tolerance has weakened the roots of civilized nation. The radicalization leads to extremism that is engulfing the gems of the nation, leaving behind the dregs.
According to Mohammad (PBUH), Islam doesn’t allow killings and injustice as, “The killing of a person is the killing of whole nation.” This Hadees clearly shows our status that we are nothing more than a dead nation. Hundreds of people are being killed in suicide bombings, natural disasters, or target killings each day, but nothing happens at the State level, to curb these issues, more than the formation of inquiry committees. With the passage of time, our motherland is losing its gems and we have no alternates to such humanists and peace lovers.
Mr. Amjad Sabri a Sufi Qawal (qawal singer) is no more with us. He was gunned down recently by two gunmen in daylight on a busy road in a densely populated city (Karachi) during the holy month of Ramzan. To whom should we blame his death? Should we blame government/elected representatives whom he voted and elected, or the security agencies and military forces who get big budgets that he paid in the form of taxes to ensure his safety and accomplishment of his basic needs, or those institutions giving birth to radical mindset?
The story of mourning does not end here. We have a big list of almost 60,000 martyred who were brutally killed. Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto, who was killed by those who were afraid of woman’s power, Atizaaz Ahsan (a teenage boy who lost life while saving hundred students from a bomber), Salman Taseer (who stood against blasphemy laws by protecting a victim against blasphemy), Shahbaaz Bhatti (a Christian political leader who stood in support of Asia Bibi for blasphemy), Parveen Rehman (who was killed by the target killers for her work for the poor people), Sabeen Mehmood (a social activist), Dr. Syed Wahid-U-Rehman, Dr. Shakeel Auj, Syed Hassan Zadi, and Syed Zafar Hussain (renowned academicians), and last but not the least those hundreds of young students killed by terrorists in Army Public School (Peshawar) and Bacha Khan University (Charsada). When we stop mourning for one tragic incident, the next day another tragedy arrives.
We are the people who do not deserve precious gems but we are happy with the dregs like Mumtaz Qadri (who killed Salman Taseer for protecting a victim of blasphemy law), Molana Abdul Aziz of Lal Masjid (leader of a seminary running in capital of country and was busy in making radical mindsets), Dr. Tahir-ul-Qadri, a container Baba (to support those elements who are not in the favor of electoral democracy), Mr. Imran Khan, hero of young generation and pioneer of new Al-Bakistan (recently allocated three hundred million rupees to the Haqania Seminary to meet their annual expenditures – famous Taliban leaders like Jalal u Din Haqqani, Osama Bin Laden, and Mullah Omer studied there), and Mr. Zaid Hamid, Orya Maqbool, and Dr. Amir Liqauat Hussain (funny characteristics, who are no more than jokers and spread hate speech against other sects). And not only these people, but some of our politicians, media persons, land mafias, drugs suppliers, and agencies are also involved in spreading hate speech against different sects, as well as being involved in illegal killings, human trafficking, and other crimes.
If proper strategies are not made to fight against such terrorist activities, soon Pakistan will vanish and rest in peace forever, and a new state will emerge on the map of world: Al-Bakistan. All the State bodies should have to perform duties to fight against terrorism. Proper rule of law should be made to tackle terrorism, which is one of our chief defenses against terrorism. There must be check and balance on such institutions that are giving education of Jihad and extremism. Registration of all seminaries must be mandatory. Security establishment instead of poking their nose in politics and government should have to perform their duties with honesty. Government must have to take serious action for the better maintenance of law and order situations in Pakistan. Government should ensure that banned extremist seminaries that are still operating in the country are eliminated and the government should keep an eagle eye on terror funding coming from foreign countries for the support of fanatics in Pakistan. If such activities are not put to an end, the time is not far when Pakistan will be Al-Bakistan and we will have bomb blasters and from every corner voicing ALLAH-O-AKBAR who will come and scatter bodies with blood everywhere, and there will be no more doctors, engineers, social workers, industrialists, scholars, singers, actors, scientists, poets, writers, comedians, or Sufis among us. All we will have will be seminaries and terrorists instead of schools, universities, and intellectuals in Pakistan.
The priority of the government should be citizens and their basic necessities.
According to Mahatama Gandhi, “The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.”
Our government is not able to treat its animals well, but what it can do is at least treat the citizens in a better way, which will improve its moral progress. If each and every State and non-State body performs its duties (proper policies should be made with seriousness and funds which are spreading hate and terrorism should be stopped), with honesty and enthusiasm to counter terrorism, we will save our land from becoming Al-Bakistan.
Nida Paras is Member of Progressive Youth Forum and is working on different human rights issues in Pakistan. She can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org