Terrorism in Pakistan: What is missing in the strategy?

terrorism and sufism

The city of Karachi was, literally, rocked by the tremors triggered by thebiggest blast of the city’s history on November 11, 2010. It was an attack on the Criminal Investigation Department’s centre, later on, owned by none else than the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan.

The blast was preceded by a transient phase of firing on the spot which, now we know, was actually a battle between the security forces personnel and the attackers. After putting the security personnel to sleep, a truck heavily loaded with explosives slammed into the CID building leaving it almost flattened. And where the blast instigated a wave of shudders encircling its circumference of many kilometers and smashing glasses of buildings to pieces, I wonder if it could also reach to the noticeably protected buildings of the nearby CM House and the US Consulate, not to mention the five star hotels dotted around.

The randomness also makes me wonder if the truck could possibly cross a couple of meters more in the direction of the traffic signal.

Common post-blast take on media sections is if it was a security lapse, or who to blame for the havoc — but, I tend to ask a different question here: are we, the fortunate lot to have escaped the attack, safe now? Should we trust our guardians, or, let me use intertextuality, should we sleep carefree because the government is awake?

The Taliban and other extremists are not in war with US or the present government; they have waged a war on humanity and are ‘religiously’ following it. Attacks in bazaars, markets, buses, shrines and mosques are bothering the ‘infidels’ in no way. What such suicide and attacks of other types by the Islamist organizations are doing is scratching the once soft image of their religion. We call it ‘injustice’ to call the Muslims terrorists just because some of the pricks are so – but what if we swap the situations? What if it was some other religion’s followers execute suicide attacks on common people and destroy buildings in seconds? What if you hear news of lashing women just because they talked to somestrangers regarding grocery? ‘They are not humans. They are B’s!’ would, perhaps, be our answer.

So, how has our government been tackling the issue of militancy which has reached its zenith in the past decade with complete preparations? Yes, by allocating billions for buying weapons and for army operations. Speaking in the language of warfare, that’s OK. But, have we ever thought to counter the mindset which supports the Talibani brand of Jihaad or Ghazwa-i-Hind of Zaid Hamid? Well, not really.

The point I want to make you understand is that we fight weapons with the help of weapons; likewise, we should counter the Talibani brainwashing and the sympathies they get with the help of nourishing the true spirit of religions, i.e. humanity regardless of creed or color. The Islamic extremists are in the phase of ‘making’ in the Madressahs where they are taught courses which inculcate in the minds of the learners a sense of religious superiority and lust for Jannah is conceived in their chest. They look for shortcuts to Jannah – the easiest one seems, if there is one, suicide bombings and killing non-Muslims, or the infidels, as they are commonly referred to.

This extremist thought has surprisingly been won over by the Sufi school of thought which preaches tolerance, harmony and peace. This is distinct in the backdrop of present horrible terrorist activities being carried out throughout the country and, yet, the Taliban, the executioners, have sympathizers throughout the country – Sindh begs to differ on the matter. It has no Taliban-sympathizers and has not witnessed any Taliban from its land. This is also evident in the case of Nato oil tankers being set on fire in Shikarpur where the Sindhis took out demonstrations against this act of blazing and told the world that it’s not them. They referred to the act as a conscious effort to distort the Sufi image of Sindh, the land which has remained under the influence of Sufi saints like Bhittai, Sachal, Rohal, Allama I.I. Qazi and G.M. Syed taught us universal peace and peaceful coexistence for progress of human kind. The shrine culture of Sindh has a different version of Islam than that propagated by the Islamist textbooks of the country which also instigate extremism.

Terrorism vs. Sufism

Mr. William Dalrymple, the award winning Scottish historian and travel writer, records: ‘On my last visit to Pakistan, it was very clear that while the Wahhabi-dominated North-West was on the verge of falling under the sway of the Taliban, the same was not true of the Sufi-dominated province of Sindh, which currently is quieter and safer than it has been for some time. Here in southern Pakistan, on the Indian border, Sufi Islam continues to act as a powerful defense against the puritanical fundamentalist Islam of the Wahhabi mullahs, which supports intolerance of all other faiths.’ He goes on to advise the governments of the South Asia to support development and propagation of Sufism as it’s, in his words, ‘an entirely indigenous and homegrown Islamic resistance movement to fundamentalism, with deep roots in South Asian culture.’

My final words would be a humble suggestion to the government and, especially, Mr. Zardari that it’s high time they realized that, since the extremism is at the grassroots level, it should be tackled at the same height. It’s common people who should be mobilized to eradicate this evil from the society because that’s the thing which has been missing from your strategies to counter terrorism.

We, the common people, feel no more safe anywhere. If it can hit an area as the highly monitored area of the CM House and the US Consulate, it can hit a hundred times more the areas which are left to be monitored by the angels above!

Author: AamirRaz - عامر راز

Aamir Raz is a freelance writer and has been involved in consultancy for some national and international organizations working in the social development sector. He has also provided consultancy to different organizations and companies for their Social Media presence and campaigns. As a human rights activist, he has also been raising awareness and running online advocacy campaigns for various sociopolitical issues and human rights. Besides, he is also an Author at GlobalVoices Online.

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