Pakistan Army Chief, General Kayani said, “We will have to put the past behind us and look ahead, no one is perfect, everyone made mistakes, some less and some more”. General Kayani also emphasised that “the army cannot succeed in its endeavours against terrorists without support of the people”. It was an indication that terrorists did enjoy support from within, besides getting enormous funds from outside – a fact which is now well-established.
General Kayani, while making out the difference between extremism and terrorism at length, expressed the concern of the armed forces about the dire situation in the country, deteriorating state of the economy, bad governance, corruption, lack of civic amenities and the host of other issues, made the following significant points in his Independence Day speech:
- Pakistan can only prosper if all the institutions of the state, including the executive, the judiciary and the legislature work together in unity.
- If militancy is not eliminated, the country will be at risk of civil war.
- No state can afford a parallel military apparatus, or a system of government.
- The most difficult task for any army is to fight against its own people. But this happens as a last resort. Our real objective is to restore peace in the troubled areas so that people can lead normal lives. The ultimate solution is political settlement.
- The fight against extremism and terrorism is our own war and we are right in fighting it. Let there be no doubt about it, otherwise we will be divided and taken towards civil war.
- The war against extremism and terrorism is not one that should be fought by the army alone. It is imperative that the entire nation is united in this context, because the army can only be successful with the co-operation of the people.
- Special laws should be enacted to deal with the terrorists as was done by other states facing this grim challenge.
- No country can afford to live in instability, thus it is important that everyone follows the rule of law – principles by the Constitution and laws made thereunder.
It may be remembered that General Kayani’s speech was delivered in the backdrop of a statement of US Defence Secretary, Leon Panetta, that “Pakistan has assured US officials that it will attack militants in North Waziristan”.
There has been long-standing US insistence and demands for a “Pakistani ground offensive in this area”. According to US, the region – close to the Afghan border-is the hub of Taliban and al Qaeda activity. Nick Childs, BBC defence and security correspondent, in his analysis observed: “But, in some ways, the issue of what to do in the tribal areas is becoming more critical as the clock ticks down towards the end of the US and NATO combat mission in Afghanistan. The same is also likely to be true of the US/Pakistani security relationship”.
General Kayani later said that “no final decision is yet taken for military operation in North Waziristan”. Earlier a series of meetings were held between General Kayani and his US counterpart General John Allen.
According to analysts, the recent visit of new ISI Chief to US was also important to remove “misunderstandings” prevailing in relations between intelligence networks of both the countries.
The US government officials and analysts keep on accusing ISI for supporting the Haqqani Network and some other “sympathetic” groups. This needs to end now. Pakistan must come up with a firm and consistent policy and demonstrate to the world what General Kayani has uttered at length and discussed widely in columns and media talk shows. The uprooting of terrorism should be our first national challenge and top priority, if we have to survive and progress. The process should also not to be selective as well; it must be across the board – all religious outfits have to be banned to take part in politics as was done by Bangladesh in 2010, in the wake of the judgement of its Supreme Court and no party or group should be allowed to use religion for politicking.
Pakistan, as General Kayani pointed out with great concern, is facing the most critical phase of its existence due to rise of militancy, extremism and insurgency, besides complete failure of state organs to deliver.
Conflicts of all sorts — economic, political, judicial, social, regional, ethnic and religious — are multiplying and intensifying.
This is a logical outcome of the wrong policies of the past and present, lack of governance at all levels and clash of institutions controlled by vested interests. Though General Kayani has rightly stressed the need to “look ahead”, but forgetting the past and not learning any lessons from history—keep on repeating the same mistakes time and again — would not help to define and shape the desired future either.
We lost our East Wing (Mushraqi Pakistan) in 1971 due to the sheer short-sightedness and highhandedness of the ruling military junta and its political cronies. Tragically, no one was punished. On the contrary, the populist political party of the day decorated the key persons behind this shameful dismemberment, awarded them state lands and even gave them high political posts in the PPP. In the wake of that humiliating defeat, no war tribunal was constituted and the military complex was allowed to flourish with even greater zeal. The powerful military soon joined hands with the mullahs [clergy that is financed by tajirs (traders)] and forced Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto to push Pakistan towards a theocratic state — his announcements after meeting the head of Jamaat-i-Islami at Zaildar Park, Ichhra, Lahore, were grave political mistakes that destroyed the secular character of the 1973 Constitution.
On July 5, 1977, Ziaul Haq, strongly supported by religious parties, overthrew the elected government, and later eliminated his benefactor Zulfikar Ali Bhutto in connivance with the judiciary — a judicial murder without any doubt. Zia’s 11-year-rule brought “Islamic McCarthyism” to Pakistan, instigating witch-hunts and eliminating political opponents on the allegation of being ladeen (infidels). He was a US stooge and supported its proxy war by hiring mercenaries (dubbed as Mujahideen) against erstwhile USSR. Our problems of terrorism, drugs and arms spring from that era—this legacy of Ziaul Haq is still haunting us. General Kayani must be aware of it and one hopes doing something to undo it.
Both Pakistan and Bangladesh since 1971 have been facing multiple problems in establishing democratic institutions. Bangladesh witnessed many military coups and counter-coups, but luckily in politics, the junta kept its distance from the mullah. In Pakistan, the military-mullah onslaughts, using religion as a tool for Jihad in Afghanistan, Kashmir and elsewhere have torn apart the very fabric of this society and the process is still going on. Perhaps General Kayani referred to this mistake in his speech—at least one hopes so as in Pakistan, the army has no tradition of confessions. If it is true, it would be important to see what action is taken against Hafiz Saeed Ahmad and many of his likes, who stress and practice the use of arms against kafirs (infidels) and spread hatred against neighbouring states.
Certainly, like all other nations we have a right of defence if victim of outside aggression and for this purpose, we are maintain a large army and are spending billions every year to safeguard our boundaries. But acts of terrorism by our own Jihadi (holy warriors) and militant groups across the border or on internal military civil targets undermine the authority of the state and earn titles like ‘terrorist state’ and ‘hub of militants’. Such actions and utterances by militants groups and their support by religious parties and organisations are the main stumbling block in the way of the peace process with all neighbours — Afghanistan, India and Iran, even now China has started accusing us of attacks by Muslim separatist in Kashgar and elsewhere. We have every right to ask for a just solution of Kashmir and Afghanistan free of foreign occupation, but it should be done by the government, using established international norms and not by militant groups resorting to cross border armed assaults.
Since the time of bringing religion into politics, Pakistan has been facing a perpetual crises of all sorts, bigotry being the worst amongst them. The increasing role of the clergy in politics is culminating in genocide of the minority Shia sect and forced conversion of people of other faiths. If this trend is not countered immediately, Pakistan may lose the battle for survival, especially due to the increasing insurgency in Balochistan which is the direct result of military operations, highlighting the failure of leadership to settle the issues politically through negotiations — why can’t the provinces be given the full autonomy, with the Centre keeping only four subjects: Defence, Currency, Foreign Affairs and Communications. Why are outlawed religious entities, openly killing Shias, not dealt with the same iron hand in Balochistan as nationalists by FC and other paramilitary law enforcement agencies? This question baffles many minds.
Economically in deep trouble and politically shaken, Pakistan really needs unity as pleaded by General Kayani. But it should not be a mere cliché or rhetoric. Is our political and military leadership capable of understanding the root-cause of the problems created by them since the inception of Pakistan? Do they have viable solutions and the necessary consensus for them? Are they willing to forge unity on fundamental issues rising above petty party and institutional interests? Are they ready to reform all State institutions and forgo their elitist characters? These are the fundamental questions that need to be addressed. Secondly, unity cannot be forged with the use of force in Balochistan or elsewhere, or without establishing a just socio-economic order. If the elite is not ready to provide even basic facilities to the weak and poor how can it even think of achieving unity? People are denied fundamental rights and are exploited ruthlessly. About 85% resources of the country are enjoyed by the ruling elite — indomitable military complex, high-ranking civil bureaucracy, businessmen-cum-turned politicians — and yet we talk about unity. National unity cannot be forged against terrorists unless we make Pakistan an egalitarian and secular state.
Our leadership has acted irresponsibly throughout history, culminating in what is today a country driven by hate. Wages of bigotry are now showing its ugliest tentacles, where zealots are taking the lives of fellow citizens in the name of religion. After 63 years of nationhood, there is mayhem, chaos, anarchy and total collapse”. Nobody took notice of our warning. On the contrary, our highest Court has also started bringing “religion” in its written orders. Terrorism cannot be viewed in isolation. It is a mindset. It is not restricted to militant groups; it also manifests in the thinking of people and becomes lethal when employed by those who take vital decisions for nations. We cannot term terrorism as an issue simpliciter – militancy and extremism are just some of its dimensions. We cannot analyse it in isolation. The rise of terrorism is intrinsically linked with an unjust world order (called globalism and the New World Order by neocons), bigotry, violence and intolerance. In Pakistan, it has a direct connection with our history that is the role played by civil-military leadership and institutions controlled by them.
The military-mullah-tajir alliance (many allege that it was sponsored by the CIA to make a horrible example of Bhutto in Kissinger’s words for his insistence to continue with the nuclear programme) in the form of Nizam-e-Mustafa campaign against Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto in 1977, laid the grounds for sectarian and communal warfare all over the country. The 1980s and the 1990s witnessed sectarian violence that spilled over the borders of religious belief into those that separate political ideologies, as well as ethnic, racial, linguistic and tribal identities. It undermined an assiduously nurtured, barely credible, Pakistani nationalism and breathed fresh life into separatist movements. Unfortunately, the situation is persisting since then, in fact going from bad to worse every day. Those at the helm of affairs, as mentioned by General Kayani, will have to take remedial measures without wasting any time, if we have to halt further disaster and destruction of our society.
According to many rightist thinkers, the two-nation theory, based on the foundation of religious divide of Hindus and Muslims, was the real motive behind partition of the Sub-continent. The radical camp argues that economic interests of Muslim feudal class paved the way for the establishment of Pakistan. While this debate will continue, the fact remains that proponents of two-nation theory received an irrecoverable setback when the Bengalis, maltreated by the ruling elite of West Pakistan, decided to part ways.
Division of Pakistan — in fact further sub-division of the Sub-continent — proved that economic interests have always played a decisive role in politics. Religion has been just one of the ploys used by schemers to achieve political and economic gains for perpetuation of their control. Abuse of religion by military dictators, vested interests and their cronies in the wake of partition of the Sub-continent played havoc in both the eastern and western wings of Pakistan.
Dr Ajeet Jawed in ‘Secular and Nationalist Jinnah‘ has presented incontrovertible documents that Quaid-i-Azam never wanted to make Pakistan a theocratic state. Throughout his political career, Muhammad Ali Jinnah struggled against both Hindu and Muslim extremists. After independence, the feudal class with the help of its cronies – the bureaucrats, clergymen and men in khaki — managed to hijack the new state and for their selfish motives, converted it into the so-called Islamic Republic — a mere nomenclature whereas the entire system remains Anglo-Saxon. Islam does not permit sectarian divisions, feudalism, economic exploitation, theocracy and authoritarianism. The main stress of Islam is on the empowerment of the have-nots and creation of an egalitarian welfare state — this aim is also enshrined in 1973 Constitution that lost its value after insertion of so-called Islamic provisions by General Ziaul Haq as self-styled Shariat Court declared lands reforms of Bhutto’s era as Un-Islamic.
From the very beginning, the vested interests in Pakistan tampered with the famous speech of the Quaid, but failed to do so as Dr Ajeet revealed in his book: “it was allowed to be published in full only after Dawn’s editor, Altaf Husain, threatened those who were trying to tamper with it to go to Jinnah himself if the press advice was not withdrawn”. For building a democratic Pakistan, Dr Ajeet writes, Quaid sought the help of Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan, because, as he said in his letter to Badshah Khan, he was “surrounded by thieves and scoundrels” through whom he could do nothing. With credible evidence, Dr Ajeet has established that the Quaid remained an anti-theocracy and constitutionalist democrat up to the last moment of his life.
The ideas of the Quaid echoed in the decision of the Bangladesh Supreme Court in 2010 rather than in any judgement of the apex Court of remaining Land of the Pure. Bangladesh’s Supreme Court barred the use of religion in politics and reaffirmed the ideology of the founder fathers. It restored the original constitution of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh. In the wake of this verdict, the Election Commission of Bangladesh on January 26, 2010 asked the three Islamic parties — Jamaat-i-Islami, Bangladesh Khelafat Andolan and Tarikat Federation — to amend their charters being in conflict with the supreme law of the country. Just as the Quaid was betrayed by the feudal class in his party, the founding father of Bangladesh met the same fate. Sheikh Mujib’s Awami League gave the nation its first constitution within one year of independence, based on four cardinal principles – secularism, nationalism, socialism and democracy. Bangladesh became the third major Muslim country to officially embrace secularism after Turkey and Tunis.
Successor of Sheikh Mujib, Moshtaque Khondkar, selected Chief Justice, Abu Sadat Mohammad Sayem, as President. Deriving power through martial law proclamations, he abolished secularism from the constitution by amending Article 38. Lifting the ban on religion-based politics paved the way for theocratic parties to campaign in the name of religion. Abu Sadat transferred powers to Ziaur Rehman on November 26, 1976 after a deal that he would indemnify his illegal take-over, all actions taken between August 15, 1975 and April 9, 1979, passing of the Fifth Amendment that ratified martial law proclamations including the desecularisation of the constitution. Ziaur Rehman was assassinated at the hands of junior army officers and General Ershad took over the control, declaring martial law on March 24, 1982.
General Ershad, like General Ziaul Haq of Pakistan, used religion for the perpetuation of his unlawful rule — Islam was made the state religion. In the wake of popular democratic movement, the military rule came to an end and democracy was restored in 1991. In 1996, the Awami League once again won elections and abrogated all the unconstitutional amendments to sanction the trial of the assassins of Mujibur Rehman. In 2005, the Fifth Amendment was struck down by the High Court. The Court emphasised secularism as the guiding state policy. The Court held that religious non-discrimination, protection for all faiths, even for non-believers, should be the main responsibility of the State. It explained that secularism means ensuring religious tolerance and freedom of faith without any favour or discrimination. The Court, in unequivocal terms, condemned actions of the military junta to convert secular Bangladesh into a theocratic state. Our apex Court and Parliament on the contrary, validated all acts of General Ziaul Haq taken in the name of Islam that mutilated the supreme law of the land.
The court’s ruling was contested by Bangladesh National Party (BNP), led by Ziaur Rehman’s widow, Khalida Zia. The Court granted a stay order that was ultimately vacated on January 3, 2010. Resultantly, original Article 38 of the Constitution became operative barring the use of religion or communal connotations in politics. This was termed as a major development not only in Bangladesh but in the entire Muslim world. Secularism requires that at the State level there should be no propagation of religion — it should be the personal matter of citizens. The clergy in Pakistan and elsewhere and many rightist thinkers not knowing the real import and historical evolution of the word “secularism” dub it as kufar or ladeeniat, whereas in historic perspective it only signifies separation of clergy from running of state affairs.
In Pakistan and elsewhere in the Muslim world, religion has become a tool in the hands of the vested-interest. The mushroom growth of so-called Islamic political parties is a cause for concern for all. These parties, backed by forces of obscurantism, exploit the masses in the name of Islam. Their power base is not masses but religious schools (madrasahs) that also serve as recruitment centres for militants. Militants are their front men, terrorism is their weapon and they themselves are the pawns of neo-imperialism. Late Neo-colonialists want to keep the Muslims in the dark ages and use the forces of obscurantism effectively for this purpose. In the face of these realities, the Supreme Court of Bangladesh took a bold stand and upheld High Court’s ruling delivered in 2005 declaring the Fifth Amendment in the constitution unlawful that allowed religion-based politics, not envisaged by the framers of the original document. Since we have not done this, the difference between Islamic Republic of Pakistan and People’s Republic of Bangladesh since 1971 is clear — before that both were one country.
Article 41 of the Constitution of Bangladesh guarantees freedom of religion. The same position prevails under Articles 20, 21 and 22 of 1973 Constitution of Pakistan that guarantees religious freedom for all, no taxation of a person for the propagation or maintenance of any religion other than his own and safeguards as to educational institutions in respect of religion. In the presence of these Constitutional provisions, there should be no room for religious-based politics and parties in Pakistan as is the case in Bangladesh. The concept of the theocratic state is alien to the injunctions of holy Quran — the clergy-monarch model of the West before modern democracy though is still prevalent in many so-called Muslim state. These are Muslim states and not states based on Quranic ‘consultative model’ that eliminates divisions and ensures true representation of all the stakeholders for taking collective decisions. The clergy-brand ‘Islam’ creates divisions, rather than unity of Ummah, which is the central message of the holy Quran.
The verdict of Bangladesh Supreme Court restoring the true character of the country’s Constitution promises progress and democratisation of the society and sets a good example for other Muslim states, especially for today’s Pakistan. It is high time that legislators restore the original Constitution of Pakistan and remove the patchwork made by military dictators to hoodwink the people in the name of Islam to perpetuate their undemocratic rule. The Quranic concept of governance is on a much higher pedestal compared to western democracy as it gives no immunity to the head of State. Quran emphasises that decisions should be taken by consultation and not by imposition as propagated by the clergy. True Islamic democracy is essentially an anti-thesis of theocracy. An overwhelming Muslim State, Bangladesh, has proved it! If Pakistan wants to come out of the prevailing mess, it should follow suit, otherwise we cannot get rid of terrorism and bigotry.
The above was the domestic perspective and suggested remedies may be considered by all the stakeholders in the wake of General Kayani’s speech. From the international perspective, the challenge is also grim. It is closely linked with our policy to follow the US and its allies without any meaningful public debate and reaching national consensus. The policy option may be right, but it lacks support of the people. The anti-American sentiment in Pakistan is essentially due to the fact that US always supported military regimes and gave funds to elite and fundamentalists rather that for the welfare of the masses. Secondly, the policies of the US, especially the undue favour to Israel and support of unpopular Muslim rulers, have always been viewed as unjust in global context, which is also a dominant factor for anti-Americanism in Pakistan.
Since 2001, the United States and its allies are engaged in ‘war on terror’ (sic) without much success. The recent reports of negotiations with Mullah Omar are shocking — after 13 years of war spending trillions of dollars of taxpayers, instead of uprooting the causes of terrorism, the mighty States are bowing before the merchants of death. The obscurantists want to impose their way of life on others. They are giving permits to paradise to their followers and condemning to hell their opponents. This thinking is the root-cause of conflict. They have no jurisdiction to pass such edicts — Allah in Quran has not delegated any such authority to anybody. It is self-assumed jurisdiction which, if not surrendered voluntarily or taken away from them by law, will keep on creating fas’ad-fil-ardh — the Quranic term for disorder on Earth. It is termed by Allah as the most heinous crime against humanity and the State is ordained to punish miscreants with full force. General Kayani is right in saying that as a nation we must unite on this point and collectively work to defeat terrorists. For lack of consensus and the support of certain elements for militants, as pointed out by General Kayani, Pakistan is suffering. But then General Kayani will have to assure all the concerned that there is no support for these elements within ISI.
General Kayani in his speech aptly pointed out that it was the duty of all the States to counter terrorism. In the aftermath of 9/11, use of force by US and its allies against innocent civilians is as condemnable as are the unabated shameful attacks all over the world by terrorists – both posing great threat to global peace. The war against al Qaeda and the Taliban (who enjoying networking with many Jihadi groups—having hubs in Afghanistan, Pakistan and elsewhere, however, cannot be won unless their financial lifeline is destroyed. These networks, in the name of religion, are minting enormous money, even if it comes from organised crime. This aspect needs proper investigation and debate. Since al Qaeda and its allied groups have not been uprooted financially, they are becoming stronger, using money power. The questions that irk everybody’s mind are:
- Where do these terrorists get so much money from?
- Why are the governments not serious in cracking down on the unlawful transfer of funds?
- If banking channels are used, then why can’t remitters and recipients be traced?
- If hawala and hundi are used for unlawful cross border transfer of funds, why are persons engaged in these unlawful activities are not arrested and punished?
- Who are financing these terrorist networks?
- Who provides these terrorists with sophisticated arms and military training?
It is a well-established fact that the terrorist networks remit millions of dollars every year from bank accounts maintained in various countries in fictitious names. This money in their hands makes them invincible.
According to James Petras, Professor of Sociology, Binghamton University, New York, there is a consensus among the US congressional investigators, former bankers and international banking experts that the US and the European banks launder between $500 billion and $1 trillion of dirty money each year, half of which is laundered by the US banks alone. These yearly inflows surpass all the net transfers by the major US oil producers, military industries and aircraft manufacturers. The biggest US banks derive a high percentage of their banking profits from serving these criminal and dirty money accounts. The big US banks and key institutions sustain the US global power via their money laundering and managing of illegally obtained overseas funds. The first thing to note about the money-laundering business, whether criminal or corrupt, is that the most important banks in the US carry it out. Secondly, the practices of bank officials involved in money laundering have the backing of the highest level of these banking institutions.
All the big banks specialising in international fund transfer are called money centre banks, some of the biggest, process up to $1 trillion in wire transfers a day. For the billionaire criminals, an important feature of the correspondent relationship is that they provide access to international transfer systems — that facilitate the rapid transfer of funds across international boundaries and within countries. The most recent estimates (2011) are that 90 offshore jurisdictions around the world licensed about 9,000 offshore banks that control approximately $85 trillion in assets. This is the ground reality whereas we daily hear from official quarters in USA, and elsewhere, big claims about the ‘War on Terror’ (sic). This is all eyewash! In reality, all the financial institutions and even the State structure are subservient to these billionaires. The ruthless arms and drug barons, who know how to move money from one part of the world to another, buy government functionaries, control politicians, law enforcement officials and use terrorists to cripple the State structures.
The US government knows how trillions are laundered through banks in America, yet it does not take any action. The reason is obvious: it would dismantle its economic might. Professor James Petras in ‘Enormous By Any Measure’ has revealed that “Washington and the mass media have portrayed the US as being in the forefront of the struggle against narco-trafficking, drug laundering and political corruption: the image is of clean white hands fighting dirty money. The truth is exactly the opposite. US banks have developed a highly elaborate set of policies for transferring illicit funds to the US, investing those funds in legitimate businesses or US government bonds and legitimating them. The US Congress has held numerous hearings, provided detailed exposés of the illicit practices of the banks, passed several laws and called for stiffer enforcement by any number of public regulators and private bankers. Yet the biggest banks continue their practices, the sum of dirty money grows exponentially, because both the State and the banks have neither the will nor the interest to put an end to the practices that provide high profits and buttress an otherwise fragile empire”.
The official stance of US is that it has taken steps against terrorist networks. Recently, the US Department of the Treasury targeted the financial and support networks of al Qaida, the Taliban and the Haqqani Network leadership by designating Said Jan ‘Abd Al-Salam and Khalil Al-Rahman Haqqani, two Afghan individuals, as Specially Designated Global Terrorists (SDGTs) under Executive Order (E.O.) 13224. Al-Salam was designated for acting for or on behalf of al Qaida and for providing support to the Taliban; and Haqqani was designated for acting for or on behalf of the Taliban, for providing support to al Qaida and for acting for or on behalf of Sirajuddin Haqqani. As a result of this action, US persons are prohibited from engaging in any transactions with these individuals, and any assets they hold under US jurisdiction have been frozen. “Khalil Al-Rahman Haqqani, who is among the Haqqani Network’s most important figures and fundraisers, and Said Jan ‘Abd Al-Salam have engaged in activities in support of the Taliban and al Qaida,” said Under-Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence Stuart Levey. “These actions exposes two consequential sources of financial and tactical support for these terrorist organisations and is part of a larger US and international effort to degrade their capabilities,” claimed Stuart Levey. But the reality is that many banks are still providing facilities to these and other groups – latest report by Peter Gretchen, http://www.ctc.usma.edu/posts/haqqani-network-financing.
Many militant groups in Afghanistan and Pakistan, in the garb of “Islamic ideology,” are engaged in criminal activities: from smuggling to kidnappings, narco trade to arm deals. They are not only fascist in their outlook but are also money-hungry. Terrorism is their main tool to capture power for more money and control. Terrorism, like fascism, is a self-destructive ideology. To fight terrorism, it is necessary to understand it. Wishful thinking about military might and invincible air-strike-power (drone etc) will not help to win the war against something that relates to human behaviour and lust for money and quest for control. Use of ill-directed force against a few groups without eliminating the main causes leading to “terrorism”, would be merely a self-defeating exercise.
There are vested interests that want to push mankind towards the dark ages when inalienable fundamental rights were denied by the authoritarian rulers. There are debates inside the US and elsewhere, pinpointing to the erosion of civil liberties on a massive scale in the name of defending the ‘Frontiers of Freedom’. Terrorism, surfaced as a reaction towards growing “fascism” on the part of certain states, and is a human problem, which needs to be understood in its sociological perspective. The analysis of the character structure of a man is at the core of understanding the rising phenomena of extremism, fascism, fanaticism, fundamentalism and terrorism [which includes state terrorism].
The economic imbalances within a society as well as globally, revival of religious movements (primarily a camouflage to manifest certain political aims) and imposition of will of the mighty on the weak, all culminated in the shape of 9/11 in 2001 and events thereafter, which have created world-wide turmoil and unleashed a reign of fear. Behind this trail of terrorism is dirty business – drug trade, human trafficking, smuggling, kidnapping for ransom, arms trade and all other activities relating to organised crime. This aspect of terrorism has been well-documented by Gretchen Peters in her brilliantly-researched book, Seeds of Terror and now in her latest report titled ‘Haqqani Network Financing’. Earlier, we exposed this horrific aspect of the ‘Jihadi bonanza’ in Pakistan: Drug-trap to Debt-trap, sequel to Pakistan: From Hash to Heroin.
Freedom of expression per se has been considered as sufficient fulfillment of the need to achieve a democratic society. The fallout of this fulfillment appears to be a misconceived notion on the part of individuals and groups that freedom of speech ipso facto gives them an authority or a license to impose their own ideas on others using money, media, power and physical force as means. They are not only intolerant towards others’ views, but also suffer from the misconception that their ideas are the only truth through which the world can be changed into a wonderful place. The terrorists, engaged in criminal activities, profess self-assumed ideological obligations as the only way of life and the so-called defenders of freedom are of the view that they hold the ultimate truth. Neither side is ready to open a dialogue. Both the sides have a non-comprising attitude when matter comes to money and control, camouflaged under some ideology.
Lack of responsibility on the part of the powerful to be fair towards the powerless has converted our world into a place full of misery, destruction and unhappiness. General Kayani, General John Allen are not political decision-makers but they must realise that the frustration of the powerless has always been taken advantage of by criminals – they use their anger and deprivation that vents in the form of ghastly acts of terrorism and destruction. If we want to change this situation drastically, a balance has to be struck between the powerful and the powerless. If a large segment of the world lives in a state of powerlessness, the powerful will always remain the target of hatred and attack. The powerful want to transform human beings into a machine where all cogs function as per command of the master. Human beings are not machine cogs — they find ways to develop all sorts of malfunctioning, depriving the master of his absolute control.
Highhandedness on the part of the powerful and tactics adopted (e.g. imposing economic sanctions etc) cannot win the war against fundamentalism and terrorism. The oppressed and powerless have their peculiar ways of reacting, which by no means can be expected to be according to the norms of internationally agreed principles or legal norms. Their destructive tendencies (suicide bombings) are symptomatic of a sick world order.
Our world is fast emerging as an authoritarian state reminiscent of fascist systems of the last century’s practices in Germany and Italy where the dominant role of the authority in the social and political structure rested with the dictators. The Anatomy of Human Destructiveness, a remarkable book by the great psychologist and thinker Erich Fromm, should be read by all the world leaders, especially those heading the powerful states in G-8, to understand the basis of the ongoing conflicts giving rising to terrorism. Terrorism cannot be supported on any ground whatsoever, but economic exploitation is equally unjustifiable.
Revival of dictatorial state orders in the name of security needs is a step towards a fascist world order. On the global level, there are now open expressions of superior and inferior statuses while entering into relations with different states and blind admiration of the unipolar force. This is like pushing the entire world to Ground Zero. In devising military strategies to fight forces of fanaticism and terrorism, the people at the helm of affairs should not overlook the human side of the whole problem. Freedom and democracy are inseparable. The right to express one’s thoughts clearly means something only if we are able to have thoughts of our own. If the media and state machinery is shaping everybody’s thoughts, then where does freedom of expression exist? If one does not have his own thoughts what does democracy mean? If the shape of the world is to be determined by a handful of people, having known economic interests [who want to redesign oil and political maps], then what is the need of freedom for the common man? In the wake of 9/11, there is skepticism and cynicism towards everything.
James Petras and Dr Henry Veltmeyer in their book ‘Globalisation unmasked: Imperialism in the 21st Century’ have remarkably exposed the tactics of the imperialists in the 21st century. They argue that “globalisation is propagated not to bring a better and more just world to the masses of the people but, as has always been the case with imperialism, to advance the interests of those who already enjoy power and privilege”. They have concluded that “anodyne rhetoric of ‘globalisation,’ ‘markets,’ ‘democracy,’ and other pleasant and apparently neutral terms, conceals realities that are far better understood within the framework of imperialism and class conflict”. The wide-ranging and penetrating inquiry by Petras and Veltmeyer provides insight into the core structural features of the evolving forms of domination and control, their severe human costs, and the popular resistance engendered. This book is a contribution of unusual value for those who hope not only to understand the world, but also to change it, drastically, for the better. Fighting terrorism is a global issue and requires deep understanding of the prevailing unjust world economic order.
Looked at superficially, people in various societies may appear to be functioning satisfactorily in their economic and social life: yet it would be dangerous to overlook the deep-seated unhappiness behind that comforting veneer. Loss of substantial human lives in brutal attacks in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, India or elsewhere and the atrocities committed by drone bombings in various parts of the country, resulting in the death of innocent civilians are interlinked, painful action-reaction chain. Human despair in the wake of these gruesome happenings is not an isolated individual experience of a community, but a world-wide feeling on a political scale where dominant thought is losing freedom at the individual level at the hands of the forces of obscurantism and fanaticism, which lack sanity and respect for human life. Those who are encountering it with military might are equally mindless of the fact that suppression of individuals and governments cannot win any agenda against terrorism. One hopes that Obama, Hillary, General John Allen and Leon Panetta are mindful of it.
Erich Fromm in Free of Freedom rightly concluded, “The victory over all kinds of authoritarian systems will be possible only if democracy does not retreat but takes the offensive and proceeds to realise what has been its aim in the minds of those who fought for freedom the last centuries. It will be triumph over the forces of nihilism only if it can imbue people with a faith that is the strongest that the human mind in capable of, the faith in life and in truth, and in freedom as the active and spontaneous realisation of the individual self.” The same is true for victory against terrorism. In order to secure triumph over the forces of destruction and disruption, General Kayani has righty stressed that “the people will have to unite” to express faith in life and its respect. It is the government’s duty to protect the lives of the citizens, but larger responsibility lies on all political parties and civic organisations to educate and convince their followers of faith in life, freedom and truth as the active and spontaneous realisation of the individual self.
Humanization of world societies is the only effective tool to eliminate terrorism. Use of force and denial of peoples’ legitimate rights on the contrary, is bound to increase extremism and fundamentalism that may lead to more terrorist assaults around the world. The violent incidents in Syria, Egypt, Libya, Bahrain, Iran, India, Afghanistan, Spain, England, Ireland, Iraq, Palestine, Chechnya and elsewhere testify to this. Use of force or the right of pre-emptive strikes is only a short-term solution. In the long-term, the governments of the world will have to sit down and chalk out a comprehensive strategy to ensure that miscreants are dealt with a strong hand without disturbing the peace and tranquillity of individual societies and the world as a whole. We need to stress humanism in Pakistan, but it can only be practised if there is true democratic polity with responsible governance, judicial propriety and justice for all, an end to bigotry, authoritarianism, exploitation and injustice. Humanism, it needs to be emphasised, can be an effective tool to defeat global terrorism and restore world peace provided a Just World Order is established and hegemony of the few over resources and politics is abolished.