Detrimental Effects of Extremism on Pakistani Society
By Dr. Raja Muhammad Khan
In any of their forms or manifestation, the term; extremism and terrorism are against the human beings. “Extremism denoted extreme rigidity of one’s belief and distain for other religions”. But in reality no divine religion really accepts or publicizes the extremism as such. It may be referred as a condition or an act of taking an extreme view or else taking a farthest action. In the academic circle, extremism is usually used to elucidate the activities or ideologies of individuals or groups outside the perceived political centre of a society. It may be political, social, religious or a combination of all.
Majority of the analysts and social scientists are of the view that extremism is a product of inequality, injustice and a range of discriminations. When all these ingredients get together they induce frustration, create an unconventional and atypical unconstructive mode of thinking.
9/11 is indicative of frustration coming to an extreme in juncture, thus reaching its critical mass exploding in the form of terrorism. Extremism with its twin sibling of terrorism is perceived hands in gloves together. The terrorism on the other hand is considered a very intricate phenomenon and may be defined as “the use or threatened use of violence on a systematic basis to achieve political objectives.” Regretfully, there is no agreed definition of the term terrorism at the global level, thus intentionally keeping it undefined for taking punitive actions against all those countries and global actors where lies the interest of major powers. Created on the ideology of Islam, the terms like; extremism, violence, terrorism and suicide attacks were alien for the peace loving society of Pakistan. It was never the panorama of nonsensical violence and unpitying massacres even until 2003. Pakistan is trapped in a vicious circle of ethnic and religious extremism used both for political and personal motives. Indeed it is frightening to realize that idealism which laid the foundation of Pakistan is being overtaken by extremism and violence; which can demolish the pluralistic civil society and founding father’s vision of a tolerant and democratic state in Pakistan.
The roots of the extremism in the Pakistani society can be traced from the Western sponsored Jihad against the invasion of former Soviet Union in Afghanistan from 1979 to 1989. At that moment, United States needed Pakistan and its soil for launching a proxy war against its rival Communist Soviet Union. Through the consent of Pakistan, U.S then encouraged the feelings of Islamic War, “The Jihad” against a non believer and anti Muslim Empire, (a motivation US gave to Muslims at that time). Muslim outfits named as Jihadists or Mujahedeen from all over the world including Arabs like recently killed OBL were drawn together, trained and then launched against former Soviet Union by U.S. Thereafter there remained an incessant flow of weapons and equipment, finances and other resources to various Jihadist groups, which later became valued collaborators of U.S. Upon successful accomplishment of desired results in the form of Soviet disintegration, U.S left the region in haste leaving behind a Jihadists culture, unchecked flow of drugs, massive weaponization, sectarian rip and ethnic cataloguing; all having potentials of promoting unrest, instability and eventually extremism and terrorism in the traditionally peaceful society of Pakistan.
Later with a larger agenda in mind, US attacked Afghanistan after the incident of 9/11. This US invasion of Afghanistan in 2001 has considerably enlarged the region of conflict. The breakdown of state structures in Afghanistan created a void which was quickly filled by groups and individuals who took it upon themselves to continue the lost battle. Some of them also intruded into Pakistani tribal areas, thus inviting the US displeasure. Flushing out these foreign fighters by Pakistani security forces made Pakistan a battle ground, as foreign militants and some of their local hosts, joined hands to counter the security forces. Unfortunately, with the passage of time, the patronization of these militants was over taken by spying agencies of those countries who directly or indirectly had long plans to harm Pakistan. These spying agencies crammed with anti Pakistan sentiments, have been and are still reinforcing the militants through trained manpower both foreigners and locals and equip them with the latest and sophisticated weaponry to fight against Pakistani security forces in the attire of religion. These militants are widely destroying public property, basic facilities; like health centres, grid stations, educational institutions and business centres of the local people. They keep locals under their influence by the force of arms or through financial bribery. They even resort to elimination of all those who try to become hurdle in their terrorist activities.
Owing to these terrorist acts, having been sponsored from across the borders, the traditionally peace loving Pakistani society has been ruined. Today, there is a state of uncertainty and lack of trust. This is neither of Pakistan’s own nor does Islam preach any such thing. While analyzing the Islamic dictate on the subject, it is very clear that; Mischief comprises all forms of anarchy and terror that remove security, comfort and peace.Whereas Islam teaches peace and tolerance and orders its believers to compassion and justice; thus “Islam and terrorism cannot stand side by side”. Islam forbids terrorism and aims to bring peace and security to the world. Indeed, no divine religion permits terrorism and violence. As Holy Quran says, “If someone kills another person – unless it is in retaliation for someone else or for causing corruption in the earth – it is as if he had killed all mankind”. In no part of the Qur'an does Allah command believers to "respond to violence with violence", but commands Muslims to "respond to evil with goodness".
The upshot remains that extremism may be either religious or ethnic, takes roots from compelling factors like; social injustice, inequality, deprivation, societal rejection or being over ambitious. These and many other factors make these affected classes a vulnerable target to be enthralled and subsequently exploited by the well ingrained spying agencies of the foreign powers who work through extremist and terrorist groups. In a bid to achieve all that, which they were otherwise denied by society, they resort to use such means like; suicidal attacks, target killings, social ills and crimes and extremism and terrorism.
Theongoing state of internal instability in Pakistani society, fashioned from the dangerous trends of extremism, social intolerance and radicalismhave broken the social and national filament, leading the country nowhere, but, towards an ultimate uncertain and catastrophic future, which would have detrimental effects for international community in general and the region in particular. Being a nuclear power, it is very significant to put the country back on track, thus lowering the growing concerns of international community, besides ensuring restoration of peace and stability in Pakistan. At the level of international community, especially U.S and EU, there should be a realization that Pakistan’s current fatalities are because of its alliance with them starting from Soviet invasion in Afghanistan to the front line status in the global war on terror. It is their moral responsibility to assist Pakistan on economic, military and political fronts. There should be an end to the game of allegations on Pakistan, without any further stretching with their common rhetorical phrase; “to do more.” Rather, it should be appreciated for its great efforts in eliminating the scourge of extremism and terrorism through redressing the grievances of masses.