By Dr. Maqsudul Hasan Nuri
The terrorist High Command gives the suicide instant publicity by bestowing honorific titles of ‘Shaheed’ and ‘Ghazi.’ Glorification of these terrorists in Pakistani press and media is also common amongst the general public because of prevailing strong anti-US sentiment, especially under Bush administration. These conditions created sympathies for terrorists by default. Many religious publications, lectures, and internet websites have proliferated to impart ideological training and information. In Pakistan, many factors have coalesced to goad the youth to join the cause of terrorists’ rank and file. As the most vulnerable section of society with low level of education and poverty-stricken group they are easily swayed by religious slogans of manipulative and half-baked religious leaders. Lack of recreation facilities, repression, closed system, lack of justice, unemployment and identity loss lure them into the willing arms of terrorist organisations with promise of financial reward, societal acclamation and reward in the life hereafter. No wonder, some educated lower middle class youth from our country have fallen an easy prey to these blandishments; even those settled in the West also tend to get ensnared as easy recruits due to alienation in Western societies due to downturn in economies, general discrimination against Muslims and rising graph of expectations, especially after 9/11. No doubt, youth as a whole generally constitute an impressionistic group, yet to be more specific, out of this category, a typical terrorist profile emerges with broken families, childhood abuse, joblessness, high idealism and vulnerability to propaganda. This is supplemented by thrill of adventure, crime and lure of easy money. One reason why militancy in Afghanistan and tribal regions is strong is because of the drug money used for acquiring illegal arms and weapons through drug trade. But this has also permeated in the underdeveloped regions of southern Punjab. Today Afghanistan provides 93 per cent of world poppy and its half of GDP is earned through drug trade. Drugs, militant tribal traditions, resentment against foreign occupations, poor governance and breakdown of traditional tribal system rugged terrain border sanctuaries - cumulatively provide an ideal incubation environment for these terrorist groups. These vulnerable youth are inspired by religious idealism, though they may belong to different groups or organisations, Taliban, al-Qaeda, various sectarian outfits, or religious groups. While they are used as vanguard for terrorist and suicidal attacks they are not only perpetrators of this crime but also in the end become its very victims. Most of the families lose their youth to the terrorist groups. They leave their parents in agony due to poverty and lack of educational prospects as means of livelihood are not available. Many of their parents languish for years pining for them and some never see them alive as they disappear never to return; those who do are physically disabled, emotionally traumatized and turn misfits in society. The youth population in Pakistan is nearly 40 per cent and out of them a vast number of unemployed, alienated humans form an exploitable commodity by terrorist-cum-crime mafia. Thus the flowers in their prime youth are destroyed who otherwise should be agents of healthy change in societies. This is a big loss to economy, intellect, tourism, farming and industrial sector. Also, it adds to manifold problems: loss of investment, negative image and destruction of institutions. Societies afflicted with recurring violence stand in danger of becoming ‘failed states’ societies, and create regional and global insecurities and get pariah status. As victims of violence, the youth become anti-social human beings by turning drug addicts, ideological and social misfits and joining crime syndicates. Arms trafficking, smuggling of drugs is done through them. The society faces a big challenge in their rehabilitation. Moreover, it strains the prison system, law and order and social welfare systems. While beefing up police and anti-terrorism methods are essential they act only as palliatives without addressing the primal causes which are embedded in developing societies. Ethically based progressive levels of education, gainful skilled employment, recreation facilities, foreign travel, psychological counseling, revamping educational reform and syllabi makeover (especially upgrading medieval madrassa system), drug control, de-ideologization programmes, and inculcation of secular ethical values - are all very important. National programmes for youth should be launched and closely monitored. Media and religious scholars’ role should be watched and guidelines strictly laid down and implemented. Glamorization and glorification of jihadi outfits should be discouraged in which the state may have earlier played a role for expedient purposes and given conditions and must come down heavily against the defaulters. In Islamic societies, reinterpretation of Islam and concept of Jihad under present conditions is important. Education (skill training and science) and good governance need heightened emphasis. Besides peace time conditions, in post-conflict, reconstruction of battered societies the role of youth is equally important. There is a need to have community-based and culturally grounded programmes to assist families, children and communities afflicted by the aftereffects of armed conflict. If the youth have to be weaned away from unhealthy pursuits such as militancy, violence and terrorism, a multi-pronged and synergistic strategy has to be adopted. This is however easier said than done. But Pakistani government now should take the bull by the horn and eschew its ambivalence. Today, terrorism is also incited and promoted from certain foreign elements/foreign countries to weaken or malign Pakistan without realising that if Pakistan gets destabilized they too cannot escape unscathed. Forums of youth leaders from different countries and diverse backgrounds ought to meet and exchange views and observe the impressive socio-economic changes in certain Muslim societies, such as Malaysia, Turkey with own eyes as they are an eye-opening and enriching experiences. More representative youth from different regions of the world and with different backgrounds should be exposed to these experiences as the common adage goes: ‘seeing is believing.’ Information and knowledge creates awareness and this, in turn, enables one to challenge false and outdated assumptions. There are today examples where few Islamic nations and communities, such as Malaysia and Turkey armed with education and good governance are less susceptible to crime, militancy and terrorism. Hence Islamic nations, including Pakistan have to imbibe lessons from the above in nation building and efforts towards forging harmonious and robust civil societies. These lessons can then be incorporated into their peculiar conditions and contexts for nation building or else the talent and potential of its youth will be doomed.
Source: The Frontier Post