Alienation doesn’t take place in days but it takes decade, even centuries, to create the divide along ethnic, religious or cultural lines. One look over the local magazines or the conversations taking place in the streets will introduce you to a people who are not only misinformed but utterly devastated by poverty and ignorance. These are the ‘vulnerable class’ that become the chief recruiting ground for terrorist organizations throughout the Muslim world.
We know it for a fact that in Pakistan, the alienation has reached a level where people blame America and West for every evil that befell them. They have been listening to religious and political agenda that starts right from their school text books to the Friday Sermons, in which they are ‘told’ that the West and the US is out to annihilate the ‘Islamic World’. For a people as beleaguered by hunger and illiteracy as ours, they take the Mullahs’ word for it. And the American Policies only make their (Mulah’s) job easier. Now we see that people who are other wise quite peace loving and hospitable, have become suspicious of the West and hence became much more susceptible to radicalization.
The sectarian and terrorist organizations that are known for having links with Jihadist faction are openly supported, even patronized by the sections of Establishment. Their use of Islamist narratives and Charity work makes them rather acceptable, if not popular, among the general public. Someone who is being fed hatred in schools, mosques, madrassah, and listens to his elders talking about drone strikes and how the Americans don’t care how many innocents their bombs kill, they become quite open to the suggestion of an armed resistance to what they see as American tyranny.
Another factor is the nexus that is almost in all cases present among the organizations, militant or otherwise, that share a similar ideology. A peaceful and charitable madressah cleric, will on no occasion denounce Taliban or Al-Qaeda un-equivocally. I have on many occasions tried to obtain a meek condemnation but they don’t even try to conceal their admiration for them. I am not saying it is the case in all instances, but it is the case in majority.
In these hostile circumstances, the Americans have not been successful in supporting voices of secularism, peace, interfaith harmony etc. They have supported all the regimes that were in bed with these ideologues, and have never until recently, demanded that such organizations must be banned and condemned by the state. And that too has been to no avail.
In a recent meeting between the interior minister Nisar and members of JuD, the minister assured them of his support. All the members of JuD, which is an umbrella organization of Deobandi/wahabi fundamentalist/terrorist groups, were assured that their demands will be met and that they will be allowed to hold a conference in the capital (which they did, under police protection).
Why is the state harboring such groups while they are most certainly supportive of the terrorist organizations that are attacking and Killing Pakistanis ? A google search will show you the connection between Ishaq Jhangwi, Hafiz Saeed, Aurangzeb Farooq, Mualana Ludhianvi and the lot. Then why can’t the policy makers see the connection? They are all known for killing hundreds of people, and are international criminals accused of conducting cross border terrorist operation. Their kin have attacked army personnel and politicians too, and they still move around and hold rallies with impunity. Why?
Yes, an increasing majority of my country’s youth has been radicalized.
But, there is hope, and it only lies among the few voices of reason in this vanity fair of hatred and bigotry. Our youth has extra-ordinary potential that can be harnessed with efficient management of the education sector and cultural exchange programs.
As for religion, it will have forgo its claims on the public and social sphere. The state has to be/should be secular, and the religious parties must not be allowed any monopoly over the policy making. It is time that the secular and liberal forces in the country start reclaiming the narrative and drive this country towards a less horrid and a more inclusive, peaceful future.