Tuesday, September 30, 2008
by Tariq Aqil
The month of September witnessed the brutal and senseless murder of three Ahmedis in Pakistan. This gruesome tragedy happened in the aftermath of a popular TV programme in which Ahmedis were blamed for everything under the sun. It appears as if some of our TV channels have been taken over by the dark and sinister forces of obscurantism. All non-Muslims and those who dare to stand up to the forces of religious fanaticism are declared infidels and worthy only of death.
Despite the carnage at the Marriott in Islamabad, and many other similar incidents before it, much of the educated elite of the country still believes in the fallacy that ‘Muslims cannot do such a thing’. Regrettably, large sections of the media also refuse to accept this ground reality and mimic the same line. This is accompanied with America-bashing – virtually every suicide bombing, atrocity, every senseless killing is blamed on America, India, and the CIA. Another all-time whipping boy is the Jewish lobby or the ‘Yahood-o- Nasara’ meaning Jews and Christians. We seem to blame everyone including Charlie’s aunt except our own homegrown obscurantist religious bigots. We are so blinded by our religious intolerance and hatred of Western nations that our vision is now limited to the tip of our nose. If we do not wake up from our deep slumber of ignorance the country is very likely to tear apart at the seams.
After the creation of Pakistan, religion became politicized. Most religious parties became political outfits that used the name of Islam and exploited religion for their own political objectives. Religious scholars, clerics, pirs, and sajjada nashins became politicians or stooges of politicians and the phenomenon of ‘mullahism’ was born. Illiterate, narrow-minded clerics became willing tools in the hands of greedy and corrupt politicians. The rise of the mullah, in Pakistan and in other parts of the world, is a direct cause of sectarianism and religious intolerance – creating sectarian schisms and conflict in not only Pakistan but India, Sudan, Egypt, Nigeria, Jordan and Iraq.
The Taliban in Pakistan are a recent phenomenon hell-bent on taking us back to the Dark Ages. They have complete disregard for human life, human rights or even human values. Dozens of girls’ schools have been torched or dynamited in Swat and FATA, men have been forced to sport beards and music and CD shops have been bombed. Many schools in Islamabad have also received threats and warnings from these so called champions of Islam. Imagine the state of affairs in the country if these mindless religious fanatics take control of the state.
Many of our political leaders and intellectuals argue that terrorism in Pakistan is a direct result of Pakistan’s support to the US in their war on terror after the happenings of 9/11. They fail to recognize the simple fact that the roots of terrorism lie deep within Pakistan and its chequered past. The terrorism we face today is a direct offshoot of sectarian violence and religious killings of the past. Who created the Sipah-e-Sahaba or the Jaish-e-Mohammad? These extremist militant groups were founded well before 9/11 or even before the birth of the Taliban in Afghanistan. And the fact also is that they were founded, nurtured and led by Pakistanis and not by the ‘Yahood-o-Nasara’. Also, take a look at the case of Harakat-ul-Ansar or Harakat-ul-Mujahideen. Who founded, supported and financed these groups? Today we have Swat’s Maulana Fazalullah spitting fire and brimstone from his electronic pulpit, an FM radio station, spreading hatred and venom across the beautiful valley. All these gentlemen are Pakistani Muslims up in arms against the state of Pakistan.
The founders and leaders of our home grown religious extremist groups did not spring up overnight. They were educated, nurtured, trained and finally launched by the numerous madressahs which have mushroomed all over the country. There is a clear co-relation between the rapid growth of madressahs and intolerance and extremism. Some of the madressahs which have been established by semi-literate mullahs are spreading intolerance and helping produce today’s and tomorrow’s suicide bombers. Such madressahs have played a pivotal role in creating the hardcore terrorists of today.
These madressahs function without any supervisory body and their syllabus is based on a doctrine of intolerance and rigid obscurantism. In their worldview women who do not wear a veil and men without beards are all kafirs. Listening to music or watching TV or movies is forbidden, and the only way to reform society and those who live in it are imposition of Sharia, by force if necessary. They also teach that suicide bombing is okay if done against infidels and that those who die as suicide bombers will find a place in Paradise. It is this teaching and preaching that has resulted in the dozens of suicide attacks that have taken place inside Pakistan and have killed women leaders such as Benazir Bhutto and provincial minister Zille Huma (killed by a self-professed fanatic in Gujranwala). The Lal Masjid fiasco is too recent to forget but let us not forget it was the maulanas of the mosque who motivated their students to occupy government property illegally, destroy video shops and kidnap citizens.
The Taliban have succeeded in creating an atmosphere of fear and horror. The Taliban philosophy has destroyed the ideals and beliefs of a free society. According to them, freedom of thought and expression is not needed at all and anybody who dares to disagree with them is butchered. The image of the country has suffered irreparable harm the name of our religion has been defamed by the acts of these barbarians. This scourge is not confined to the tribal areas only and is slowly but surely creeping towards the settled urban areas of the frontier, Punjab and Sindh. The choice before us is pretty simple: face this menace and defeat it or hand over the country to these obscurantist forces. (The News)
The writer is a teacher and freelance writer. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org