Being a Proud Muslim and a Pakistani I do not think we have an “image” or a perception problem Internationally. We have a Terrorist problem. We should Analyze, Pursue, Attack and Resolve it for the Love of God, the World, and all that is True and Holy.
“We have zero friends internationally, because we are perceived as a failed state infected with a seemingly contagious terrorist vermin. Bin Laden was found and killed here; the largest democracy on the planets most wanted terrorist is proudly harboured by us- and inciters of sectarian genocides walk as free men in our justice system. The implications of OBL being found here only solidified world opinion that our security establishment is entwined with Terrorists.” – Tashfin Rasool
“The invasion of Iraq provided Osama Bin Laden with the circumstances in which to build a genuine takfiri revolutionary movement by capitalizing on the West’s missteps. One misstep was the invasion of Iraq. Israel’s war on Hezbollah and Hamas was another misstep. These actions confirmed Bin Laden’s belief’s about who we are and what we want. As Muslims watched, we fulfilled his expectations. We, and not Bin Laden, unveiled the hypocrisy in Western intentions. Bin Laden’s aim was to create a revolutionary climate that will radicalize the Islamic world and lead to the fall of the Arab “colonial” regimes, that will defeat the “Western crusaders and their Zionist friends.”
This methodology is neither medieval nor regressive but global, modern and without borders. It’s methods are sophisticated, psychological, nuanced and carefully planned… The foundational belief of the war on terror is that we are fighting not a credible movement with a set of core beliefs but “evildoers” – people who have nothing to say, who are without values, who hate our freedoms, and who want to return their societies to the seventh century. We believe and act as if militant Islam is much like worldwide communism, an empty shell that, if confronted with overwhelming power will crumble. It will not – it has not. That it hasn’t has fueled our frustration. We have the strange feeling that somehow we have gotten the war on terror wrong, that not only are we not winning this conflict but, if we follow our current policies, we cannot win it.
We have a growing sense that the enemy we are fighting cannot be contained, limited or quarantined, that it’s foot soldiers are not easily identified, and that it’s ideology is ever changing. We fear that what we face is not terrorism at all, but a coalescent transnational uprising that does not so much oppose our beliefs as demand that we live up to them – and that gains strength with every aircraft carrier that we deploy…
Here is what we face: We do not understand the enemy we are fighting. We have not listened to the diverse voices of Islam. Despite all our talk we have not recruited Muslims to our side… We have drowned out the diverse voices of Islam. We say we support democracy, but our initiatives purposely undermine it. We say that the difference between “us and “them” is that they purposely target innocents, whereas we don’t – as if we can continue to speak of our intentions, instead of recognizing the dead…When a Palestinian is killed by an Israeli we call it self defense. When a Palestinian kills an Israeli, we call it a terrorist attack. When an innocent American is killed, we say it is because “they don’t have our values.” When an innocent Iraqi dies we call it “collateral damage.” We might list solutions to all this: resolving the Israeli – Palestinian conflict, spurring economic development in the Muslim world.
It is not just our policies that stand in the way; it is the language that has led us to adopt these policies. We must change that language – or we will lose.” – Mark Perry, “How to Lose the War on Terror.”
The above quotation describes the justification that Islamist Terrorists, believe strengthens their cause. It is to illustrate that the opponent has an ideology. The dangerous part of it is that it has threads which resonate with right wing Muslims, and even progressive liberal Muslims i.e. the hypocrisy of the West. Hence the dangerous attraction of increasing numbers being radicalized.
The mindset has been illustrated I think quite effectively by the author. To re-iterate this is not some kind of justification of OBL or radical Islam God forbid. This is the reminder that terrorists employ this logic for their actions, and why they perceive themselves as sacrificing their lives for the cause of Islam. The total lack of condemnation of terrorism by sufficient numbers of Muslim religious leaders locally and internationally gives strength to the mistaken notion that this war against the west in this manner is justified, and for some even a duty. This is why the possibility of Non violent, pacifist, mainstream educated Muslims negotiating with them exists. It is easy and fair and natural to consider terrorists animals. But they were human at one point, and it is important to dig into the causes of the transition from a human being into ruthless Mass killer of Innocent people willing to sacrifice even their own lives, because some of them may actually think that they are saving or protecting Islam.
It is the lack of communication between radicalized Muslims and for lack of a better word normal, or mainstream educated ones that is fueling the fire of Extremism. The intellectual marginalization of Right wing Muslims who have not yet crossed over into violence is a matter of extreme concern. It is important to engage them, indeed they are a crucial link in the spiral that descends into the abyss of growing terrorist chaos. It is essential to recognize that they have growing empathy with the terrorists. Therefore, ironically, they are also best equipped to pacify them or perhaps even begin to cure them of their sickness if they in turn are intelligently and effectively engaged by those who are centrist or moderate.
The growing polarity (or bipolarity) in Pakistan in particular is contributed to by the growing and difficult to cross chasm between the discourse in English language Newspapers and TV and Radio channels Vs the mainstream Urdu newspapers TV and Radio.
So for the purposes of my premise that it is possible to engage and negotiate with some right wing groups that directly or indirectly support terrorists, and perhaps even some terrorists, as outlined above, I have divided Muslims in Pakistan into 4 groups. I have not read this anywhere, but this is my logical perception of the situation. Progressive liberal Muslims: who may even be rejected or denigrated by the mainstream. They have the values that their naming suggests, and may identify strongly with Western values in addition to their firm belief in Islamic doctrine.
Centrist or moderate Muslims, who also respect many Western values, but are also very comfortable with accepting their eastern Sub continental or middle cultural eastern influences. It is my argument that these two groups, the second of which comprises the majority of Pakistan have little or no interest in a Shariah or khilafat based government and society.
The third and crucial group to focus on is the Right wing muslims who basically reject western values and pursue the Pakistani culture of their grandparent’s generation including staunch adherence to parda, veiling women, greater division of the sexes socially, strict practice of the 5 pillars of Islam (also respected by all Muslims, even if not fully practiced by them), and a difficult to alter perception of foreign policy that juxtaposes the USA, India and Israel as an axis of evil of enemies who they will not trust at any cost and are vehemently committed to opposing no matter what. They see these countries in particular as outright enemies of fundamentalist Islam, with the first and the third especially practicing genocide and war crimes against Muslims across the globe.
As hinted by Mark Perry above there is obviously a plethora of factual evidence that the USA in particular and Israel to a numerically lesser extent are remorseless in general about murdering large numbers of innocent Muslims in general in the name of collateral damage and usurpment of land respectively. India stands less guilty due to the massive numbers of Muslims that reside there, many of whom are happily integrated and proud to be called Indian. Their opposition to India is based on the violent history of partition, wars fought, and continued atrocities in Kashmir, although progressive liberal Muslims may concede that there have been mutual violence and injustices.
Centrists or moderates also recognize the problematic nature of the relationship with these countries but are still very much open to negotiating with the USA and India if it serves the national interest of Pakistan in a mutually beneficial way, rather than the kind of severely imbalanced and difficult relationships respectively that currently exist. The fourth group the basic source of Pakistan’s and the world’s troubles are still possibly “Muslims” by some definitions, at least the world’s definition although they are vehemently rejected as being Muslims by the progressive liberal and centrist moderate Muslims.
These two groups rightfully feel that the terrorists have brought International shame and revulsion towards Islam, even though what they practice and their methodology has no basis in the doctrine they would argue. The doctrine of Islam comprises the three primary sources of law in Islam: Quran, Hadith, and Sunnah. The additional two main sources of law Ijma and Qayaas are more debateable because they are reliant on the wisdom of current Islamic scholars or religious “leaders” such as Maulvis who lead prayer in mosques, who are usually not scholars, which the current progressive liberal and moderate Muslims agree are often severely lacking in comprehending or portraying the true spirit and essence of Islam, and have themselves became a source of shame and butt of ridicule for the educated.
The “scholars” have also profoundly failed the society due to their lack of a vocal and unified condemnation of terrorism, although some of them have recently. Coming back to the fourth group of people in Pakistan: the Terrorists, who at least consider themselves Muslims, they are broken into many groups and factions and geographical areas. This is what needs to be studied and dissected more in the media which is perhaps fearful to do so, and by the politicians, who are too busy campaigning for elections. Needless to say the army and their adjunct the military intelligence are knowledgeable about these groups in detail, and it is their failure to conquer these groups with immense amounts of military action over the past eight years which is crumbling the State, and posing a danger to the region and worldwide.
Whispers of Intelligence agencies’ rogues in collusion with some of these groups aside, my premise remains that the theory of violence trumping violence has not succeeded in the demolition of terrorism in Pakistan. To complicate and exacerbate matters the Relentless state terrorism of the USA primarily in the form of Drone operations by the US over 345 strikes in the past few years have correctly led to the belief that the current corrupt Pakistani government led by Asif Ali Zardari and it’s predecessor the Military dictator Pervez Musharraf have been and continue to be in collusion with the USA in killing their own people including innocents in large numbers. Ex Prime Minister Syed Yousaf Raza Gilani, and of course Chief of Army Staff General Ashfaq Pervez Kayani stand equally guilty in welcoming drones that have killed our own who were not Terrorists.
It is essential to understand that although some, if not many, high level target successes have been gained through the war, the number of innocents including young children being killed, once again, in the name of collateral damage is shocking and unacceptable to the local populace. Again this feed’s into the Right wing narrative of hatred against the West and the USA in particular, and has increased terrorist activity manifold in the nation since it’s inception post 9/11. More and more right wing Pakistanis are consequently crossing into the insanity of terrorism, and every drone strike, and innocent death creates more enemies committed to violence against the State and elsewhere.
The only plausible solution to this psychotic circle of insanity (taking the same action repeatedly and expecting a different result) is to employ fresh approaches including negotiations, and a host of other requirements such as education and economic improvements, that I am currently not qualified to specify in detail, but need to be at least considered, researched, discussed and implemented by the State. Immediately.
Anti-Drone Activists are not suggesting that millitants and Terrorists in Pakistan Run Amok or be allowed to continue their violent, deadly and disgusting activities. High level targets have been killed with drones it must be admitted, but we suggest that on ground Military action can result in capture also. The capture of OBL illustrates this. Certainly the Pakistani Government and Military need to be taken to task for their failure to achieve targets. However the deaths of innocents, non combatant males, women and children are Not acceptable. Can you imagine the U.S. outrage if a Single innocent American child was injured or killed in pursuit of the greater good??? Muslims and Pakistanis are people too, “Casualties” and “Collateral damage” are innocent human beings that Matter, believe it or not, strange as the assertion may seem.
In the meantime, Terrorism is not only surviving, it is Thriving. We have to pursue the Taliban (although this is a ridiculous idea to lump them all together), Members of these groups could break under interrogation and even torture? They could give us links to other groups, they could give us information about their networks and operating methods. How about the revolutionary idea of putting them on trial? Bombing from the skies, while killing hundreds of innocents, is indefensible and is creating many more terrorists. They are like gremlins, they multiply when you add water or drones.
I am severely unqualified to speak in detail about this. This is not my field of knowledge, I am just an ordinary citizen of Pakistan damn sick of all this nonsense. Those better equipped with the facts, should assist in Resolution of these matters. Coming back to one of my main points above, the U.S. has realized that the war on terror is not exactly succeeding here or anywhere, they themselves have foolishly,misguidedly and undoubtedly turned it into a war against Islam by drowning out the diverse voices of Muslims that could help. Pakistanis know for sure that in fact, it has contributed to turning this nation into a War zone.
The possible solutions, a couple of which are outlined above include rehabilitating an ill society. It will take time. It will take planning. It will require that Foreign Nations with oh so much good will towards us as like the immensely murderous USA, shameless in spite of its increasing death count exceeding hundreds of thousands of dead Muslims all over the globe, which can only be called Genocide, back off a little, and let us bring together this shattered society. Our government and politicians and Supreme Court and Army need to negotiate a balance that upholds the supremacy of the constitution and nurtures the shaky Democratic process, which must be preserved at all costs, Instead of encouraging the ill conceived interference of Big Brother which only ignites the situation further we need to Solve our issues within our Sovereign State Pakistan, and increase greater dialogue amongst Ourselves. So far only politician Imran Khan, Chairman of the Pakistan Tehreek – e -Insaf , PTI, (Movement for Justice) has condemned drone strikes in Pakistan, and the War on Terror consistently for the last eight years, and for this he is being called an extremist, by some.
The nation will have to unite against one common enemy, Terrorists, those that would threaten our freedoms with Terror and Force, All those that would do so, internally and externally. The right wing that has not yet fallen into the terror cycle needs to be pulled back by the moderate, centrist heart of the nation, and the Left, if it is not to be completely left behind needs to expand it’s conversation to be a little more inclusive of different viewpoints, to share and teach it’s many valuable ideals, otherwise it will merely scuttle back to it’s last refuge, also under threat – Online Pakistan. United we Stand, Divided we Fall.
Nobel “Peace” Prize winner Barack Obama’s, and America’s relentless and Illegal Drone War is not benefitting the U.S. our “Allies” either. Billions of their Tax dollars are at stake, as well as the compromise of their Civil Liberties, and the Lives of their patriotic young soldiers elsewhere and in Afghanistan (part of AFPAK according to them) under the guise of the false and ridiculous “War on Terror” narrative. You Cannot go to War against a Noun. Christiane Amanpour questioned the legality of the Drone war months ago on CNN, and All participants had to concede that legally the U.S. is on thin ice. Author Mark Perry agrees in his book “How to Lose the War on Terror”, so does Bruce Fein in his book “American Empire Before the Fall”. Ron Paul has repeatedly condemned the simultaneous use of “Bombs and Bribes” with the Corrupt Pakistani Government headed by Asif Ali Zardari as poor Foreign Policy. Rachel Maddow tried to remind people last year that the War on Terror is “starting to feel like a War on Pakistan to Pakistanis”…and in the meantime Terrorism in Pakistan is not only surviving, it is Thriving.
The Solution, once again as a reminder, is to Allow Pakistan to Own this War that was inherited as the Legacy of the Military Dictator General Pervez Musharraf (fully supported by the U.S.) that decided to Accept it. Pakistan needs to Fight this war and Own it, not just for the Fun of the Thousands of Innocent Pakistani people that are dying, but in order to Decide How it is to be Fought from Within our own Sovereign Borders, Fought by Our Government and Military, without the Inept and Idiotic Infliction of Dictation and Drones by our American “Allies”. Code Pink led by Medea Benjamin who came to Pakistan for the Waziristan March have been making a valiant effort to create Empathy for the cause in the United States.
One way the Americans, so desperate to assist can actually help is to Support our upcoming National Elections to be Free, Just, and Transparent, in order to provide the possiblity of Election of a Pakistani Government Superior to the current Corrupt, Conscienceless, and Conniving one. Most of the sensible American public is with us, at least the Liberals are, they do not want the U.S. Govt to continue to massacre children and innocents in their name. Either you are with us, or against us. So why not be with us? There are many solutions to the problems of War, and they all entail Peace and Prosperity, a gentleman named Michael Brenner had shared this