Dear John E. Carey
Peace and Freedom
I hope you and your team at the Peace and Freedom will be alright. As usual the situation in the tribal areas is tense.
Taliban fighters have been terrorising the people in tribal areas. But now Pakistan leaders have been accepting the fact that terrorists have been enjoying the support of some politicians and officials.
Today the leading newspaper of Pakistan Dawn discussed the situation in its editorial. Caretaker Interior Minister Hamid Nawaz Khan’s insistence that all political parties must make their stance on terrorism clear deserves to be noted.
In a television interview, the minister said many parties were going soft on terrorism, and this could help the militants. One wishes the minister had named the parties he had in mind, but one can see that many parties on the extreme right have maintained an attitude that often appears paradoxical, if not intriguing.
All political parties are, of course, quick to condemn an act of terrorism when it occurs, but often it appears that this is done for record’s sake. The Lal Masjid affair was more than an act of terrorism, and the stand-off leading finally to the crackdown in July last year provided ample evidence of the various parties’ stance on terrorism.
The issue gets mixed up with politics. Even the secular parties criticised not the Lal Majid brigade but the government in harsh terms. But here they were acting the way all opposition does — to make capital out of a situation, any situation, and embarrass the government. But, regrettably, many religious parties refrained from using their influence with the Rashid-Ghazi duo to end the stand-off peacefully. This was surprising because almost all madressah heads had distanced themselves from the Lal Masjid clerics, so blatantly criminal were their activities.
Similarly, many parties have chosen to keep quiet on the issue of suicide bombing. Suicide attacks have been planned and executed in cold blood as is evident from the targets that have been chosen — mosques, imambargahs, religious gatherings including Eid congregations, shopping centres and at least one school bus. Those in the opposition today ought to know they could be in power tomorrow and they will have to deal with the monster of terrorism, to which they are at the moment indifferent but which gets stronger by default.
Unfortunately, civil society on the whole has failed to stand up to extremism. The religious militants are a microscopic minority, but they have combined terror with their misguided concept of religion to frighten the majority into silence. This could prove disastrous for the nation.
Also, those fighting for human rights causes ought to know that the threat to freedom does not merely come from the government of the day; it also comes from parties with a fascist outlook and groups that preach persecution of women and minorities and wage war on culture in the name of Islam. Unless society itself stands up to terrorism, it is difficult to see how the state alone can deal with this monster.
Again thank you very much,
Khar, Bajaur Agency,Tribal Areas Pakistan