By Retd. Brig.Said Nazir Mohmand
Extremism is a relative term and its level and colour varies from culture to culture and society to society. It can neither be applied uniformly, nor adopted universally due to variance in perceptions and tolerance levels. More so, extremism cannot be confined to the religious, political and ethnic roughshod of a nation or a society. It is much wider in its scope and encompasses all walks of life. Extremism is condemnable in all its forms and manifestations like terrorism, may it be individual, group or state sponsored. Extreme views and violence are the major breeding grounds for the incubation and propagation of extremism. These tendencies are not necessarily the products of internal conflicts/undercurrents but at times imposed or forcefully infused in a society through external factors. Clash of civilization, globalization, anti Semitism, Islamophobia and blasphemy are the current extreme views/thoughts leading to extremism. Tolerance is the first casualty of violence, whereas violence begets violence and has the tendency of snow ball effect culminating into an avalanche.
As there is no common and universally accepted definition of terrorism, so is the case with extremism that it cannot be confined to the borders of nation states. Extremism is bad but adaptation to extremism is a worst kind of collective behaviour. It eats up the vitals of a nation/society and that what is prevailing in today’s global village. A brief description could suffice in fear of lengthy deliberations. Questioning the Darwin Theory, deliberating on anti-Semitism and forensic investigation of Holocaust is a crime, whereas blasphemy and desecration of the Holy Book are viewed as freedom of expression and a way of protest in the Western World. It is a form of extremism and leads to extremist tendencies resulting into violence at global level.
The Huntington Theory, clash of civilization singles out Islam to be at loggerheads with other religions of the globe, thereby incubating the negative feelings of Islamophobia leading to discrimination on religious grounds. The profiling of Muslims at state level proliferate extremism and violence. The propagation of WMDs, to induce mass fear, doctoring of information, bypassing of UN and invasion of Iraq, massive and indiscriminate use of uranium depleted munitions and abuse of human rights in Falujah ,Abu Gharib, rendition centers around the globe, ransacking relief flotilla, are all acts of extreme nature. It breads violence and the society gets adapted to the violence without any discrimination. The invasion of Afghanistan and extreme use of air power, including Cruise missiles, Daisy cutters, cluster bombs and indiscriminate carpet bombing, massacre in Dasht-e-lilla and Mazare Sharif resulted in an asymmetric war, where now the COIN and Surge Strategies are at odds to succeed even at the cost of more than half a trillion dollars and an unprecedented collateral damage. Extreme use of force has resulted in extreme tendencies like suicide bombing, killing of hostages and throat slitting. Af-Pak has got adapted to extreme violence.
The, back to the stone age threat, and the use of coercive diplomacy, “you are with us or with them”, forced Pakistan to become a front line ally on the War on Terror against the will of the people, resulted into more than a million IDPs, 57 billion US $ loss, above 6,000 casualties to the security forces, disintegration of tribal code and traditional institutions and a phenomenon of almost daily suicide bombings, besides massive collateral damage. The stage managed trial of the Holy Quran and its burning by the American Pastor Terry Jones and the callous attitude of our great Ally in the war on terror are acts of hateful provocateurs to ignite extreme reactions in the Muslim world. The human life and value became cheap enough to be bartered and the society turned violence prone and got adapted to extreme tendencies. The extreme extra-constitutional act to remove a democratically elected govt, mutilation of constitution, dismissal and confinement of Superior judiciary, extreme use of force against the Lal Msjid inmates, missing persons, Dr Afia like cases and display of blatant state sponsored violence on 12th May 2007, all radicalised the society and paved the way for adaptation to extreme methods and violence. The unabated use of drones against the people of FATA, with tacit approval of GOP, and dubbing all killed as extremists by the media are blatant violation of a state sovereignty. It breads extremism and dilutes state authority into submission. It is adaptation of a state to another state’s power and surrender to extreme policies. It creates strong under currents and none state actors take the lead to avenge the national bully and whipping, by resorting to extreme unconventional means and methods.
The adaptation to extremism is on the rise and the call by the leader of a political party, a stakeholder in power, to the Martial law like actions against the feudal in politics in a democratic dispensation is nothing but extremism.
The scruples corruption in Haj Scheme, pampering and sanctuary to a blasphemous and pardoning the court convicts instantly and demonizing the Islamic jurisprudence, besides brandishing and imposing own brand of Islam are the wedging tools of 3 % ultra liberals and 10 % religious extremists. The adaptation to extremism has become so common that the gruesome incidents of Sailkot, Gojra. And target killing in Karachi, appears to be routine and a few days media blitz. The fallout effects are: that we are callous and used to police lashing, mob lynching, unscheduled load shedding, extra judicial killings, sky rocketing prices, galloping inflation , adulteration in food and life-saving drugs, VIPs routes in bullet proof motorcades, self-charming visits, and extravaganzas at the state expense of this poor nation.
These all are the recipe, either for a bloody revolution, hostage like crisis, or extreme adaptation to complete submission and subjugation. Both we have to shun these misguided ultra liberals and the religious/ethnic extremists to relieve the overwhelming majority moderates, from this hostage like situation or submit to the inertia and status quo.
The tragedy is that the animal instinct is setting in, where the grazing and slaughtering are taking place on a common ground like a sheep farm.
Resultantly on a bigger canvas, we are getting adapted to extremism. The approach at the elite and policy makers’ level is callous and void of any pragmatic steps to arrest the situation. They have got all the pills on loan and feel free to get seduced and not a single antidote available with the present lot of leadership and intelligentsia.
The news item, asking the Fatwa Bench, Benori Town; to issue Fatwa (decree) for allowing the forbidden (Haram) like robbery and stealing as Halal, under the present extreme economic conditions, on the plea of, fear to death of starvation. The modern age famous jurist, Allama Taqi Usmani, has also rung the alarm bells that the society is at the verge of collapse due to lack of tolerance and display of extremist tendencies. There is need to arrest the situation and take tangible measures in moderating all strata of the society; unlike the enlightened moderation of Mr. Mush. Social justice merit list and de-escalating on the war on terror shall follow suit.
Setting personal example by the elite lot and the have ones, in leading simple life and display of humility in public dealing shall cool the temper and temperature. It is time to shun extremism whether liberal or religious/ethnic and hold the bigots accountable in all its forms and manifestations.
Source: The Frontier Post, Pakistan