Stopping the Suicide Bomber
17 March, 2008
By Anwaar Hussain
We have to condemn with loud voices, open speech and fearless thinking as much the terrorists as the system that spawns them.
Young men, full of youth’s vigor, pumped up and brainwashed by patriotism or religious zeal always have, and always will, kill and be killed. That is a no-brainer. The question is why such sudden spates come in nations’ histories in which atrocities spike up sharply tainting every denizen of that state.
In the past, we heard people refer to the strong link between terrorism and poverty. According to recent studies done by political researchers however, the data does not support this fact any more. Why rich Saudi young men would blow themselves up, they ask. Political researchers now agree that terrorism is more linked to levels of political freedom a nation allows to its citizens, especially in those countries that are experiencing transition from autocracy to political freedom.
There is a flaw in this argument.
The researchers forget that it is in the soil of these politically repressed societies that the seeds of want, ignorance, squalor, disease and idleness sprout. A single factor of these by itself or any combination thereof can trigger the birth of the hydra-headed monster called terrorism. Pakistan is a case in point.
For much of its life, Pakistan has been a typical example of states with tightly controlled dictatorial regimes that crush the will of its people under the jack boot of its military. The many long years of unchecked despotism have indeed spawned in Pakistan a class of people who live solely for their own interest, who have no other stimulant than material satisfaction and no other cult than that of gold. The politics of this upper class is to, by hook or by crook, provide for themselves the necessary security so as to continue to enjoy their untold riches.
The natural revolt of the suppressed classes, on the other hand, and their assault on power that has abused them for all these years is not merely for love of liberty. It is also for a deep-seated hatred of those who accord to themselves all freedoms, who possess without merit the lion’s share of the nation’s wealth. Trampled and dazed by appalling poverty, the little people yearn for some of the beauty, some of the comforts, some of the luxuries of the upper class.
Could we then suggest that we are witnessing firsthand in Pakistan a classic struggle between haves and have nots? Perhaps so but with a caveat; unlike the past struggles, religion is being used, or misused, in this particular one like never before.
Devoid of a platform to launch its struggle from, a group of disenchanted people has come up that exhorts to kill and be killed in the name of God. A death-worship is engraved on young impressionable minds in the name of a deity that craves blood. Like drill instructors, the handlers of these young men constantly bombard them with sermons like, “How sweet is the fragrance of the martyrs, how sweet is the scent of the earth, its thirst quenched by the gush of blood, flowing from the youthful body.” The result; more than five hundred people have been killed and maimed in Pakistan just in the first two months of this year.
Let it not be said, however, that Islam is the only religion that has been, or is being, misused to this end. There are quotes galore from other sacred texts that glorify the act of human sacrifice. The Bible, for example, alludes to ancient cultures of the Land of Israel: “Their sons and their daughters they sacrifice to their Gods” [Deut: 12]. The Israelites too were drawn to it: “And they built altars to give their sons and daughters to Molech which God did not command nor consider this abomination [Jeremiah: 32].” As recently as 500 years ago, certain South American tribes used to leave children to die on mountain tops as presents to their gods. The common denominator driving human sacrifice, in short, is the belief that the deity craved blood.
With each violent incident, the powers that be huddle down. Unable to catch the perpetrators and blinded by a ‘rightful’ rage, they see no option but to centralize ever more force into the hands of those who govern unelected. This results naturally in even more despotic governance that strikes at all who resist, all who complain. It in turn invites yet another backlash from the reactionaries who care a naught for their own or others’ lives with the spiral of violence ultimately spinning out of control.
Nothing will change in Pakistan without the fundamental understanding of a simple fact by its opinion makers that only political freedom can rid Pakistan of its present menace. It has to be recognized that the structure of a society built upon wrong basic principles is bound to retard the development of all men, not just the underdogs’. It must be grasped that public rights rest essentially on liberty, whose morals and religion in due course evolve in the same direction. And nations are not free unless men, under the floodlights of a media that is able to zoom into the most obscure corners of power, start framing and executing laws that represent the interests of the lives of the people and not the interests of some distant masters.
If we want terrorism to end in Pakistan, we have to condemn with loud voices, open speech and fearless thinking as much the terrorists as the system that spawns them. For finally in Pakistan a time glowing with new ideals, new hopes of true democracy seems to have arrived.
In the end it must be said that NOTHING, repeat NOTHING, justifies the killing of an innocent human being, be he a victim of the terrorists or the state.
Copyrights : Anwaar Hussain