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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