Paths of terrorism lead but to Pakistan – by Ardeshir Cowasjee

“Can some bright psychologist work out why Faisal Shahzad, a college graduate, son of a Pakistani air force officer, married with two children, was prompted to do what he did on May Day?” – Photo by AP.

The adoption of terrorism tactics can no longer be merely attributed to ignorance, poverty, deprivation or hardship.

Many of our neo-terrorists are schooled and brainwashed beings, with a grudge, or several grudges, imbued with bravado, intent on disrupting what is left of civilised life, with nary a care as to how many complete strangers they either blow to smithereens or maim, or how much they destroy.

Pakistan of course has its daily dose of terrorism, in one form or another. Schools are blown up with regularity in the newly-named K-P province, bodies of men executed by the local Taliban are found, men have their hands chopped off, women are ‘dishonoured’ and our main cities are under siege, bunkered and concreted, awaiting the suicide bomber from up north or from down south in Punjab where they are said to be heavily congregated (for one, Ajmal Kasab).

Unless one of those strange and much despised creatures known as VIPs or often VVIPs are targeted, suicide and other bombings no longer earn headlines in the media. They are now taken as a matter of course.

But apart from terrorism connections within Pakistan, we have those outside Pakistan, the paths of which lead straight into our heartland. The latest New York Times Square failed car bomber is but one of a string of notable Pakistanis who have garnered academic degrees and are not materially down and out in any way. What is it about Pakistan that it manages to produce so many young men who are violence prone, caring neither for their own or other people’s lives? We seriously need to ask ourselves this question.

It was asked and partially answered in the Wall Street Journal of May 3 by Sadanand Dhume under the heading ‘Why Pakistan Produces Jihadists’. He firstly asks: “Why do Pakistan and the Pakistani diaspora churn out such a high proportion of the world’s terrorists?” He cites Mir Aimal Kasi, the CIA shooter, Ramzi Yousef, the 1993 World Trade Centre bomber, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed of 9/11 fame, Omar Saeed Sheikh, the Daniel Pearl kidnapper, and three of the four July 2005 London train bombers as being ‘made in Pakistan’.

He goes on to list a few “whose passage to jihadism passes through” Pakistan — Osama bin Laden himself, Ayman al-Zawahiri, Mohamed Atta, Richard Reid and his shoe, and John Walker Lindh of the so-called American Taliban. These are not lists to be proud of. Something is radically wrong and heaven alone knows how long it will take to even start to put it right. With the governments and leadership we have suffered and still suffer it is not likely that in the foreseeable future our production line will decrease, let alone cease.

Dhume puts much of it down to the distant past, to the formation of the country when he claims it “was touched by the messianic zeal of pan-Islamism”, with men such as Muhammad Asad (an early ambassador to the UN), Said Ramadan who collaborated with Abul Ala Maududi and with the 1949 establishment by Pakistan of the world’s first transnational Islamic organisation, the World Muslim Congress.

All this possibly may have set the trend — with massive help from Liaquat Ali Khan’s 1949 Objectives Resolution — but it was not until Ziaul Haq, army general and devout worshipper at the altar of his own dangerous brand of Islam, that bigotry and the inevitable violence that must accompany it truly set in. Even the mighty army was tainted, to a certain extent brainwashed by the joys of jihad.

The seal on the full conversion of the Pakistani mind towards militancy was stamped by the support given by Zia to the Mujahideen in Afghanistan and then by the adoption of the Taliban by Benazir Bhutto’s second government.

No one, not even the most nationalistic Pakistani, can deny that the country is used as a training ground for terrorists or jihadists or whatever.

It is open knowledge that both the ignorant poor and deprived and the university-educated youth, and even adult men, can come to Pakistan and learn how to make bombs to blow up themselves, if they so wish, and as many others that they can either take with them or leave dead and maimed while they flee.

Can some bright psychologist work out why Faisal Shahzad, a college graduate, son of a Pakistani air force officer, married with two children, was prompted to do what he did on May Day?

Friend I.A. Rehman has written an excellent column, finely tuned and finely balanced, published in this newspaper on May 6 on the subject of anarchy in Pakistan. It sets out many of the acts of government in recent days which come under the heading of anarchy. It should be widely disseminated so that people realise just what their lives are all about under this present dispensation which is at as much a loss with itself as it is with the governance of this unruly country. It is a sad commentary on the seemingly deliberate acts of commission and omission which so relentlessly beset us.

Strangely, the sole anarchic activity he has missed out on is the terrorism and jihad factor. Perhaps he, like so many, is hardened to the fact that it exists, that it has become a way of life and that it seemingly cannot be dealt with by the civilian government we have lurking on the ground, or will not be dealt with, for reasons we can but guess at, by the army that is the de facto ruler of this country for which the world at large has no love lost.

Source: Dawn, 09 May, 2010



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