By Obaid Ullah Khan
Tackling terrorism, and dealing with terrorists are two separate issues. On the latter our leadership is obscuring the matter, thus delaying the immediate actions. If the terrorists are not controlled, this could result in grave consequences. But if this object is somehow achieved (which is in fact not possible without iron hand), even then, the eradication of terrorism still needs some other drastic measures. Otherwise it can reoccur with more deadly consequences. This situation can be compared with the efforts of those who were advised to draw a certain amount of water from the well in which a dog was drowned. But they only drew water, not the dead dog. No doubt facing the terrorists and defeating them is the matter at hand but addressing the source that is producing such a mindset is another issue that cannot be left unattended as well. No one yet seems ready to eradicate the root causes of terrorism. If the life line of this menace is not cut down or stopped then we will be fighting with a mythical creature every limb of which when chopped, grows again or two more sprout. But alas! Instead of debating the real issues we are busy in trifling whether this monster could be overcome by slaying it or by singing it lullabies. But this alone is not a solution which will lead us to peace in the society. Disease always consists of two aspects, cause and symptom. Battling with terrorists would only be a remedy against severe symptoms that are an imminent threat to the body like a rising fever. But until we cure the reason behind the fever which is just a symptom, the condition will only be controlled for a short while and it might escalate again.
What are the reasons that are nourishing the menace of terrorism, extremism, sectarianism and religious intolerance in our society? The first and foremost is discrimination in the name of religion that has been made the law of the land through the constitution that defines the policy of any state. Our constitution is totally ambiguous when it says all citizens are equal, but then a majority based on religion is privileged who can become the rulers of the state and others are pariahs who cannot rule the state or hold some public offices or state offices and are always to be ruled. This practice is known as apartheid.
Through the same constitution our state defines the religion of her subjects and act like God. I only used the word God because even according to the muslim beliefs, the highest in ranks of prophets, the holy Prophet of Islam, never, even once, declared anyone a non muslim if one claimed to be a muslim, keeping the fact in mind that he knew very well who were hypocrites at that time. One cannot find a single precedent on this subject that the holy Prophet of Islam declared anyone, claiming to be a muslim, as a non-muslim or infidel. Even though they were at war with non-muslims and we are not. Until and unless we remove this ambiguity from our constitution, our state cannot be healed from the disease it is suffering from. If we refine our prime legislation from this contamination, then our other legislation like the Penal Code and other discriminatory clauses and laws that are the upshot of this prime disorder, can be corrected as well. Until then anyone who thinks justice can be established in this land of pure is living in the fools’ paradise and nothing more than that. A state cannot become peaceful and prosperous if injustice becomes the law of the land. For a state all its citizens must be equal regardless of their faith, caste and creed. In our case the label of a religion de facto allows you to even challenge the writ of the state and defy the constitution. On the other side minorities are treated as second class citizens for not being eligible of certain offices of the state, and some certain groups are even less fortunate than that.
Then comes the issue of hate preaching. Hate based propaganda is responsible for the disintegration in our society overall. We never pay any heed to hate preaching especially religion based hate. This religion based hate propaganda is the real culprit behind the sectarianism and religious intolerance. The laws regarding the hate speech are never implemented properly but occasionally and variably. Cherry picking in the enforcement of any law is no enforcement at all. Laws, with vigorous sanctioning force, to curb and incriminate the hate preaching, must immediately be enforced throughout the country without a single discrimination. Hate speech never promotes any good in the society then why not make it a crime overall. This law should be implemented upon the religious clergy of every religion and sect. No one should be allowed to malign or spew hate against any other religion or sect. All citizens should be allowed to practice their faith and beliefs rather than denigrating others. They should only highlight the good aspects of their religion or its interpretation in preaching and speeches. If they think their belief is the best then show the world only the goodness in your belief instead of pointing out flaws in others. Hate speech must be declared a crime and ought to be compared with terrorism and not less than that. All the religions in their teachings preach love and peace. Spreading hate in the name of religion is, in fact, a devious ploy, by highlighting the differences, to achieve political and social gains by fragmenting the unity of the society in different factions to blackmail others.
Reforming the curriculum is another dire need of the time. Our curriculum is promoting hate, chauvinism and discrimination with a spirit of self righteousness. This is another root cause of our national sickened mindset. We should teach truth and facts rather than lies and myths, based on a well orchestrated propaganda for the last 3 decades, to serve the vested interests of a certain class. Who has exploited religion, by quoting out of context religious excerpts, and promoted chauvinism which has led us to the present state of affairs in the form of the terrorism and extremism etc. Stop indulging in the futile debates of the two-nation theory in order to promote theocracy and to add fuel to the powers of the clergy to rule our minds. The states must not be attached to certain ideologies. Ideologies get controversial for it is in human nature to disagree with ideas. If you curb the healthy debates then you are making minds deaf and dumb like we are having now in our country. And those who have some audacity to disagree with any existing ideology might not restrain to the mere ideologies but react against everything that is connected to this ideology as well. An ideology that has been designed to attach with the founding or existence of any state might ultimately result as an uprising against the state too, whenever and wherever gets controversial or disagreed with. Or otherwise make the state hell for those whose existence does not support that ideology.
Patronizing of non state actors has been another de facto policy adopted by our state to achieve some goals in neighbouring states. This policy has proven to be deadly that has nourished terrorism and insurgency in our own country. We dug pits for others and fell in the same pits. Promoting insurgency anywhere never gains anything positive. This has damaged our foreign policy all around the world as well. Whether accept it or bury your head under the sand, no one accepts our policy of promoting insurgency. They call it patronizing the terrorism. No one pays any attention to our rant that we are the prime victims of terrorism. They can see that on one side we are the victims of terrorism and on the other we are still maintaining a healthy environment to flourish the terrorist mindset. Some leaders who are our citizens openly threaten other states and our state turns a blind eye towards them. If I am not ready to be treated against a disease then why would anyone else take care? Rather they would try to prevent themselves from me.
And in the last but not least, the writ of the state must be restored so that no group or faction can challenge it. And this principle should be instilled in our minds that challenging the writ of the state, either by religious groups or criminal, is a crime of the same magnitude as insurgency is and must be dealt with an iron hand. No politics should be allowed in the name of the writ of the state or the interests of the state, whether established by a dictator or a democratically elected head of the state. If we politicize any endeavour for establishing the writ of the state by a dictator, as in the case of Lal Mosque, and criticize the act merely to malign the dictator or a person, then we are in fact not only maligning the person but also setting a precedent for future rulers to avoid the forceful and apt measures for its establishment. Consequently we are in fact weakening the writ ourselves for our political vested interests.
If we keep overlooking these root causes of our national disaster and terrorism, there is hardly any hope of survival for us in the future.