Pak­istan is going through a severe ter­ror­ism wave. Is this the work of a ‘for­eign hand’ or is it an indige­nous phe­nom­e­non?

By Fareeha Qay­oom


very day hun­dreds of inno­cent lives are being lost in Pak­istan. There are two schools of thought to explain this state of affairs in Pak­istan.

One, this is the work of ‘for­eign hand’ and two, this is indige­nous phe­nom­e­non brought on by fun­da­men­tal extrem­ists who are intent on rais­ing an Islamic army to fight infi­dels. Most of the Pak­ista­nis sub­scribe to the ‘for­eign hand,’ point of view while major­ity of the for­eign press, media and inter­na­tional politi­cians sub­scribe to the sec­ond point of view, “indige­nous Islamic ter­ror­ist movement” – which is more cor­rect and fac­tual? Are major­ity of Pak­ista­nis in denial?

Before I tackle this ques­tion, I would like to tell you a totally unre­lated story about the pos­si­bil­i­ties of denial. A few years ago, when my nephew was just a lit­tle baby – he devel­oped a rash on his face and body. We took him to a doc­tor. The lady reviewed the rash in cou­ple of sec­onds flat and diag­nosed sca­bies as the cause of this par­tic­u­lar ail­ment. I refused to buy this diag­no­sis. My sis­ter thought I was in denial. I wasn’t. My gut feel­ing insisted that it was some­thing else entirely. This denial was based on a cou­ple of self evi­dent truths – the rash was not con­ta­gious, it didn’t cause itch­ing, the baby was slightly lethar­gic, was run­ning a fever and the rash was also on his face.  None of us were dis­play­ing any symp­toms includ­ing rashes or itch­ing. No, we hadn’t come in con­tact with any per­son who dis­played any sim­i­lar rashes or itch­ing in our recent his­tory prior to the baby devel­op­ing these symp­toms. I advised the doc­tor accord­ingly. She refused to change her diag­no­sis. So we went home and looked inside our res­i­dent ref­er­ence med­ical tome by Read­ers Digest and actu­ally came up with an answer — a child­hood ail­ment that was hard to detect by most doc­tors – as it was an obscure and rare form of dis­ease called num­ber 5 or the fifth dis­ease. All the symp­toms matched. It was a clas­sic text book case. The baby recov­ered in few days. No, the dis­ease never devel­oped into sca­bies.

St. George Slaying the Dragon, Church of Bet Giorgis, Lalibela, Ethiopia
Photo by A. Davey

Why am I telling you this story? Because major­ity of Pak­ista­nis have an inside knowl­edge, a gut feel­ing — they might not be able to explain it or put it into words that you can ratio­nally under­stand if you are not a fel­low Mus­lim but as a Mus­lim, Pak­ista­nis know for a fact that this par­tic­u­lar spate of ter­ror­ism is not the work of any devout believer in the name of God, what­ever his reli­gious extrac­tion and espe­cially if he is a Mus­lim. In fact, it’s the work of a direct oppo­site – an athe­ist who doesn’t believe in God, the last day or account­abil­ity, what­ever, reli­gious extrac­tion he offi­cially belongs to. No, we don’t even have to con­sult a Mus­lim scholar or open our holy book or get a fatwa. All Mus­lims know this — It’s self evi­dent. You know why?

If you believe in God and you are a Mus­lim, you would know for a fact that you would be fac­ing him after death. The penalty of sui­cide is that God will pun­ish you by mak­ing you go through the exact same death for­ever. Imag­ine being stuck in this par­tic­u­lar moment with no time off ever. If you have cho­sen to blow your­self up – you keep blow­ing your­self up till infin­ity and beyond. Scary, isn’t it? Would you con­tem­plate killing your­self know­ing this? Also, com­pound­ing your sin by tak­ing as many inno­cent lives as you can while you are at it? The pun­ish­ment is prob­a­bly quite worse.

So what? A non-believer would say. This is Holy War – a Jihad. The end jus­ti­fies the means. In Islam, the end never jus­ti­fies the means. You have to do the right thing regard­less. Your inten­tions will be judged. Not your actions.

Well, war also has some rules of con­duct and engage­ment, if you are Mus­lim. You can not kill non-combatants. There is no room for col­lat­eral dam­age; in fact, you can’t even destroy trees or the nat­ural envi­ron­ment in a state of war in the enemy lands. You are account­able to God at all times. You can’t start a war. You can only defend your­self.

Inter­est­ingly, if two indi­vid­u­als are fight­ing and one of them kills the other and sur­vives, he would still end up in hell…even self defense is not jus­ti­fied in tak­ing a human life in Islam; (there is a hadith to this effect).   Fur­ther­more,  “if you kill one indi­vid­ual, it is as if you have killed all human­ity.” This is by the way a direct quote from Quran (which was revealed to Muham­mad PBUH 1400 hun­dred years ago!) and is usu­ally wrongly attrib­uted to other peo­ple from world’s recent his­tory in the pop­u­lar press. Fur­ther­more, there are many instances (hadith) that sup­port the self-evident truth that you can’t kill a fel­low Mus­lim under any cir­cum­stances. (There are sev­eral instances of cold blooded mas­sacre car­ried out by the so-called res­i­dent reli­gious zealots while their vic­tims were pray­ing as recently as day before yes­ter­day in Rawalpindi. The intent was to kill as many senior army offi­cers as pos­si­ble. You can’t say a Mus­lim would kill a fel­low Mus­lim while he is pray­ing under any cir­cum­stances! You have to be a non-Muslim to find that cred­i­ble.)

In Islam, you can’t judge someone’s faith. That’s God’s job. Even in times of war, if an enemy accepts and pro­claims your faith to escape cer­tain death, you can’t kill him. Fur­ther­more, you can only kill in war in the name of God, remem­ber, when (Hadrat) Ali was on the verge of killing an enemy in a par­tic­u­lar war, I for­get which one, the enemy retal­i­ated by slap­ping him. Hadrat Ali let him go free and said, “I can’t kill you now, because you sud­denly made it per­sonal. I was going to kill you in the name of God, now my inten­tion is no longer pure.”

So the whole premise of this par­tic­u­lar ter­ror­ism doesn’t stem from any Mus­lim Ide­ol­ogy. This is a fact and self evi­dent to all Mus­lims, what­ever, degree of faith they might per­son­ally have. These ter­ror­ists are sup­posed to be killing their fel­low human beings because they are highly devoted to God which is ques­tion­able to begin with – I am a Mus­lim too…however, I don’t think I can ever even con­tem­plate killing some­one in cold blood. I can’t even imag­ine myself doing that under any cir­cum­stances. We are not talk­ing about crimes of pas­sion here or acci­dents but a cold blooded mur­der. (I know what I am talk­ing about because I was recently in a sit­u­a­tion that actu­ally tested this facet of my char­ac­ter. The other day, I came across a guy suf­fer­ing from extreme road rage, first, he banged into my car when he was actu­ally in the wrong, then, he tried to yell at me for his mis­take, when I sim­ply ignored him and drove off, even though, my car got dented and he had got off scot free – he fol­lowed me, came up in front of me and he threw a stone at my wind­shield. I got angry, so angry that I lost my head com­pletely for a minute, I speeded up and almost tapped his motor­bike with my front bumper but when the crunch came, I pulled back. I couldn’t do it. I scared the mad man away and myself at the same time. So I know what I am talk­ing about). You are talk­ing about some­one who is sup­posed to be on a high moral ground. Not like your aver­age Joe or Jane. This guy is sup­posed to be will­ing to give his life for God. Can he really go against God in that case?  By the way, Jihad doesn’t mean holy war – Jihad is a verb which means “to strug­gle,” you are sup­posed to strug­gle to do the right thing regard­less of what­ever temp­ta­tion is in your way.

A young friend of mine the other day was argu­ing that that these ter­ror­ists are killing in the name of Islam. I asked her – how do you know? Have you talked to a sin­gle ter­ror­ist? Do you have some inside infor­ma­tion or are you pass­ing on unver­i­fied infor­ma­tion. Besides, any­one who knows even the basics of Islam can’t jus­tify killing their fel­low humans; let alone, their broth­ers in reli­gion. She kept argu­ing these guys are doing it because of Islam. I told her to show me a sin­gle hadith or an ayah which jus­ti­fies their action. She couldn’t so she kept insist­ing that this might be because of illit­er­acy and brain-washing. In that case, some­one has a sin­is­ter intent, don’t they?  There is a par­tic­u­lar hadith which says any per­son who passes on a piece of hearsay say­ing it’s a fact, with­out ver­i­fy­ing it per­son­ally is a liar. Another hadith about end of times also tells us that a time will come when the assas­sins and their vic­tims both will not know the rea­sons behind their killings.

These par­tic­u­lar ter­ror­ists are using chil­dren. Are you telling me the chil­dren can make adult choices? They are being brain washed, hyp­no­tized or drugged to carry on these heinous crimes against human­ity. Besides, who is ben­e­fit­ting from all this reck­less killing? Are you say­ing these ter­ror­ists have acquired some non-Muslim ter­ri­to­ries? Or they have made some non-Muslims accept their faith by their exem­plary con­duct? Remem­ber, there is no com­pul­sion in our reli­gion. Have they done us proud in any way? So how can they be serv­ing God? All they are doing is attack­ing and killing Mus­lims using a highly con­tro­ver­sial name — Tal­ibans; pro­vid­ing the inter­na­tional media fod­der to demo­nize Islam, giv­ing it a bad name so it becomes jus­ti­fi­able to kill the native pop­u­la­tion in Afghanistan who is inter­est­ingly being led by resis­tance called Tal­ibans – how do we even know if these ter­ror­ists are the same Tal­ibans who are fight­ing the NATO forces in Afghanistan? The sources of this par­tic­u­lar infor­ma­tion are also sus­pect because they have their own axes to grind any­way…

How can this be in the name of Islam?  In other words, its any­thing but reli­gion that’s dri­ving this thing. The rea­sons could be as com­plex or as sim­ple as a. the ter­ror­ists suf­fer from men­tal issues like depres­sion, anger man­age­ment, or sui­ci­dal ten­den­cies or they hate peo­ple in power/authority or they hate their fel­low human beings or b. the rea­sons could polit­i­cal, that is, they are power mad zealots or rev­o­lu­tion­ar­ies who want to top­ple the cur­rent world order or c. they could be social too, that is, they are sim­ply poverty stricken, illit­er­ate, umem­ployed and deprived and are tak­ing out their resent­ment on ordi­nary folk or d. they are look­ing for a steady job, room and board and loads of cash as dan­ger money or they are adren­a­lin junkies and like the thrill of the kill or they are sim­ply Psy­chopaths. Heck, it could be all of the above. Get real. This is not denial, but a sim­ple gut feel­ing based on the fact that actions speak louder than words! There is indeed a ‘for­eign hand’ some­where that’s fuel­ing the whole thing…and its find­ing fer­tile grounds in Pak­istan because the poor in our coun­try find it eas­ier to give away their chil­dren than to raise them in dif­fi­cult cir­cum­stances! Let’s not fool our­selves that ter­ror­ists have any noble rea­sons for wag­ing war on inno­cent cit­i­zens of Pak­istan. Most crimes against human­ity are always fueled by greed for power and money or sim­ply because of basic deviant bent in human nature. This is no dif­fer­ent. Let’s call a spade a spade and not Islam!

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