addresses the Pakistani nation after London attacks
Hands are Tied as He is Seen as a Stooge
July 26: As
a Pakistani, it has been a bad week to be in London. Not only
could one's relations or friends have been blown up, but those
who committed those hideous crimes justified them in the name
worse for me was the news that three of the four terrorists had
been to Pakistan. But neither Islam nor Pakistan has anything
to do with these atrocities. Nowhere does the Koran justify attacks
on innocent people. Pakistan is being blamed for fostering terrorists,
yet Pakistan has been a victim for the past 15 years.
history is in order. After the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan
in 1979, the US used Islam to counter the occupation. It sponsored
an international jihad in the Muslim world and encouraged volunteers
from Muslim countries to join in it. Thousands, including Osama
bin Laden, flocked to Pakistan, where US-funded training camps
were set up under CIA supervision. These plucky Mujahideen were
glorified in the West. But once the Soviets were defeated, both
Afghanistan and the Mujahideen were abandoned by the US. Afghanistan
descended into chaos, from which the Taliban emerged.
paid a heavy price, being left with sectarian militant groups
trained in terrorism and four million Afghan refugees. We were
swamped with drugs and Kalashnikovs. Meanwhile, those Muslims
glorified as heroes for dislodging the Soviets now turned their
attention to other countries where Muslims were being oppressed.
As this brought them up against the US, they went from being heroic
jihadis to "Islamic terrorists". The culmination of
this was 9/11.
rather than trying to understand why 9/11 had happened, Bush and
his colleagues took refuge in such inane expressions as "they
hate our freedom, our way of life, our democracy" and, even
more ridiculously, "they love killing". The main stakeholders
used 9/11 to pursue their own agendas for which it was convenient
to conflate Islam and terrorism.
wherever Muslims were involved in a freedom struggle, they would
become "Islamic terrorists". This is no mere semantic
point. Ariel Sharon used the excuse of terrorism to use his formidable
military might against the civilian Palestinian population. Similarly
Russia would use the magic word Al-Qaeda to squash all accusations
of genocide and human rights abuse in Chechnya. But the chief
grievances were political, not religious.
India claimed that "Islamic terrorists" were operating
in Kashmir when that freedom struggle dated back almost 150 years.
George Bush would use the term to attack Afghanistan weeks after
9/11, making war a first option rather than a last resort. And
later he would use the same pretext to invade Iraq.
the perception in the West remained that somehow Islam was connected
to militarism and terrorism, that all Muslims believe that all
suicide bombers go straight to heaven. No one mentioned that before
9/11 70 per cent of suicide bombings in the world were committed
by the Tamil Tigers in Sri Lanka, who were Hindus. No one blames
Hinduism, nor do they blame Shintoism for the Japanese Kamikaze
pilots. Where religion is particularly strong, political martyrdom
gets cloaked in religious terminology.
Islam was put on the defensive. Heads of all Muslim countries
went hoarse giving statements that suicide bombings were not allowed
in Islam. General Musharraf went further, making Pakistan a frontline
state against Islamic extremism and terrorism. He invented the
term "Enlightened Moderation" in the hope of encouraging
Muslims to avoid militancy.
there is deafening clamor for him to close madrassas (religious
schools) given that it has emerged that three of the four 7/7
bombers had visited one. But there are almost a million madrassa
students in Pakistan. Are they all terrorists? Of course not.
And why did the madrassas not produce any militants before the
Afghan jihad when they have existed in the subcontinent for centuries?
state school structure in Pakistan is in a mess. Madrassas are
the only means through which poor families can educate their children.
In my constituency in Mianwali, 70 per cent of the state schools
are closed, mainly because there are no teachers. What are the
people supposed to do there if they do not send their children
to the charity-run religious schools?
some madrassas do preach hate against other sects, and they should
have been closed a long time ago, And there needs to be modernization
of the syllabus of Pakistan's entire education system, madrassas
Unfortunately, General Musharraf's hands are tied. He is seen
as a stooge of the anti-Islamic Americans. He lacks the moral
authority to reform the madrassas or take on the sectarian militants.
Sadly, he is more likely to exacerbate both militancy in our society
and anti-American feelings.
Muslim countries where the government is perceived to be a US
puppet, there is a rise in both anti-Americanism and terrorism
(e.g. Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Afghanistan). Suicide
bombings in Pakistan started only after the Iraq invasion when
both the Prime Minster and President were targeted. And where
the government is thought to derive its power from its own people
(and not from the US), like Iran and Malaysia, there is no terrorism.
Mahatir Mohammad was able to clamp down on extremism in Malaysia
with great success because he had popular backing.
war on terror will never be won as long as we do not address the
root causes - as long, for example, as the leadership in the US
and UK denies that the horrific London bombing had anything at
all to do with Iraq. The great danger is that sooner or later
some suicide attacker will get hold of chemical or biological
weapons and cause far greater damage in the US or UK than we have
seen to date.
episodes such as Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib are broadcast widely,
the Muslim perception grows that it is not a war against terror
but a war against Islam. The risk is then that the terrorists
become "defenders of the faith". For that cause they
will have no shortage of recruits.
not addressing the issues that give a perception in the world
of unjust US policies (like Palestine, Iraq, Kashmir) and by using
the pretext of democracy to invade Iraq, while backing a military
dictator in Pakistan or a tyrant in Uzbekistan, the US double
standards cause further Muslim alienation.
US and Israel are leaning on Mahmoud Abbas to curb Palestinian
militancy, but this will achieve nothing unless the root cause
is addressed. Similarly, they can lean on Musharraf as much as
they like to close the madrassas which preach militancy and stop
infiltration of insurgents in Afghanistan, but he will be equally
ineffective. In short, the Americans are impotent in this war
writer is an internationally known celebrity, Pakistan's former
cricket captain, a member of the National Assembly of Pakistan
and Founder of Tehrik-e-Insaaf, the Movement for Justice