History of terrorism is as old as history of man. Terrorism was used by states as well as groups to further their strategic goals throughout the history. Terrorism is use of Force / violence to incite fear in order to force government or group to do or abstain doing something which is desired by the group/person or state employing violence.
There are many types of terrorism like state terrorism as demonstrated by Zionist state of Israel in 2009 during invasion of Gaza or recent killings of peace activists in International waters then arresting them and taking them to Israel then accusing them of being illegally in Israel.
Then there is an ideological terrorism used by groups or states based on ideology like TTP/ Takfiri terrorism in SWAT and MALAKAND or recent attacks on Ahmedi minority in Lahore etc in which people were prosecuted on basis of ideology. Or Zionist terrorism in holy lands, where violence was and is being used and justified to Israelies by their racial Zionist ideology.
There is also a cyber terrorism where Hackers belonging to different groups hack and destroy or vandalize web sites of opposing ideology or state. And of course psychological and intellectual terrorism in which psychologically people are tortured on basis of their biases. Best example of this type is drawing cartoons of Prophet(PBUH) which tortured the Ummah and was justified by west on basis of freedom of expression which by the way changes when somebody deny Holocaust or criticize Zionist state of Israel.
In this essay we will discuss methods and ways of fighting war on terror which is also an ideological war but unfortunately no attention is being paid either by Pakistani government or by International community.
An ideology is defined by word web online.com dictionary as
“An orientation that characterizes the thinking of a group or nation”
On wikepedia Ideology is defined as
An ideology is a set of ideas that discusses one’s goals, expectations, and actions. An ideology can be thought of as a comprehensive vision, as a way of looking at things (compare worldview), as in common sense (see Ideology in everyday society below) and several philosophical tendencies (see Political ideologies), or a set of ideas proposed by the dominant class of a society to all members of this society (a "received consciousness" or product of socialization). The main purpose behind an ideology is to offer change in society, and adherence to a set of ideals where conformity already exists, through a normative thought process. Ideologies are systems of abstract thought (as opposed to mere ideation) applied to public matters and thus make this concept central to politics. Implicitly every political tendency entails an ideology whether or not it is propounded as an explicit system of thought.
According to Jost, John T., Ledger wood and Alison, & Hardin, Curtis
that ideologies reflect motivational processes, as opposed to the view that political convictions always reflect independent and unbiased thinking and . Proposed that ideologies may function as prepackaged units of interpretation that spread because of basic human motives to understand the world, avoid existential threat, and maintain valued interpersonal relationships
(Shared reality, system justification, and the relational basis of ideological beliefs. Social and Personality Psychology Compass, 2,171-186, (2008)
Today’s war on terrorism is in fact war of perceptions and an Ideological war In this war e ideology is the driving force on both sides. It has roots in pre and post colonization era in which Muslims were exploited by European Powers. Their riches were looted and were left to starve and then not only left to starve but to add insult into injury were left at the mercy of western trained elite to suffer more. Power full were only allowed to decide the fate of weeks and hence a condition was created where Ummah had to face identity crisis.
Unfortunately Muslim clerics failed to lead the Ummah so with growing crisis the vacuum was filled with radicals . The perceptions created by reactionary radicals were further enforced by creation of Zionist state in Middle East and western supports to un popular leadership throughout middle east and world of Islam.
For strategic circles West , as observed by Michel Parenti , reactionary Islamism was perceived beneficial as it provided them opportunities to use Muslims against enemies such as communism and after its collapse providing West especially America opportunities to intervene in strategic locations and also in propagating their Capitalistic values to capture the minds of elites .
It’s a known secret that Hijaz was governed by Shareef of Makkah, who by conviction was not a moderate ruler. He was an ally of Britishers. After First World War he was replaced by radical Ale Saud and was given Iraq and Jordan in compensation. Hijaz is centre of Gravity of Muslims. Why was it given to radical Ale saud is a historical Question which help the students of history and Islamic extremism to understand the current situation.
Then after world war II , Islamist radicals were financed and used by west especially UK to counter Nassirism and Socialism. Hamas was created with blessings of Israel to counter much liberal PLO. In American Jihad against Soviets these radicals were financed and brought from all over the world to fight Soviets. Films like Rambo III etc portray these radicals as freedom fighting heroes.
During the same era week states such as Pakistan were encouraged to accommodate the radicals and mind set was intentionally created in Muslim world that these radicals were the real Muslims fighting godless communism and fighting for Islam.
Whole social fabric was changed and destroyed by Pro Mujahideen propaganda and distribution of Radical interpretations of Islam in vital Muslim countries. Radical Tafseers (commentaries)of Quran were even published in US and were distributed in Afghan Camps and in Pakistan free of cost with aim of motivating Muslims to fight American and western jihad.
After the collapse of Soviet Union these radicals were left to be dealt by their respective countries especially to Pakistan which was base for US Afghan Jihad. Prior to US afghan jihad Pakistani society was peaceful society; at least there were only isolated incidents of religious extremism. But during and after Afghan jihad things changed and Pakistani society became radicalized and Pakistan became battle ground of sectarian groups.
Pakistan suffered through out 80’s and 90’s due to sectarian terrorism. An important thing to note here is the generations born in 70’s and 80’s and to some extent in 90’s were radicalized by courtesy and help of US and Western capitalist countries. The province bordering Afghanistan during American Afghan Jihad saw Mushroom growth of Radical madrassas financed by US allies in Middle East brain washing Pakistani Youngster and radicalizing them.
The blame of today’s crisis of Muslim radicalism doesn’t go totally to west. Muslim elite and ruling class also have equal share of blame. West did what it had to further its strategic and ideological interests. In world of real Politiks everything is fare. Muslim clerics and Rulers are the culprits. They benefitted in this all flop of society and Ummah. For example Saudi elite after in 79 siege of Holy Kabba became afraid of revolt in the kingdom. They instead of cracking down on Radicals accommodated them by introducing laws based on radical interpretations driven by Arabian Bedouin culture in effort to eliminate the chances of situation and back lash of radicals.
Similarly Pakistani ruling elite wrongfully decided to support and act according to interests of American and capitalist block by allowing Pakistan to become front line state against Soviets and during the process earning hard cash. Then allowing Pakistan to become battle ground of Iran- Arab conflict.
Now coming to the main Issue. Islamic radicalism is an ideological challenge not only challenging west but also the world of Islam. Today due to Policies of External powers and that of Western influenced Muslim ruling elite a common Muslim finds himself in Identity crisis. The economic conditions coupled with geo political situation …influence his perceptions and create ideal conditions in his mind where he becomes vulnerable to radicals who interprets the situation in black and white by over simplifying and generalizing the historical and current facts for these people.
It’s a common observation that a desperate and frustrated mind is strongly attracted to radical and reactionary ideology. Media who has today more power on masses then government is used as a tool by the capitalists or the interest groups who run the outlets. The channels like fox plead the case of Christian radicals or those who believe in Pax Americana. Whereas channels like Press TV advocates the opposing side. Its an old saying that “: Perceptions are stronger then realities” Actions of common man are govern by perceptions not realities. Perceptions are based on historical experiences which give rise to thinking pattern, this thinking pattern give rise to ideologies which reflect motivational processes.
In Pakistan FATA and South Punjab are thought to be centers of radicals. Close study of these areas reveal that these areas are the poorest and most under developed areas in Pakistan where day today life is a war of survival itself. Due to neglect and poverty a common man is frustrated and hopeless and in sub conscious in reactionary mood against status cue.
Unfortunately as I have said before World is not realizing the importance of ideological element of this war. In Pakistan especially during Musharraf era Talibanization was tried to be fought liberal extremism which was very counterproductive and helped Religious radicals. Radicalism is a disease of society and should be dealt with care and strategy. Use of force and that to excessive force is always counterproductive in ideological wars. We have seen that Taliban Power grew after the US invasion of Afghanistan. With every Afghan dead 10 more joined Taliban. Similarly in Pakistan, due to no effort on ideological front Radicals were able to infiltrate and conduct their activities in settled areas throughout the country. Pakistan was abled to clear the Bajor, Swat , Malakand etc but it stills faces resistance in the cleared areas. This proves that holding and capturing the ground in no way means victory. The real victory means winning hearts and minds and winning souls which can only be achieved by countering militant ideology.
Unfortunately the most important weapon to defeat Takfir in this ideological war are Ulema . Ulema are not coming forward. May be its because the radicals claim that they are fighting for islam or Ulema are afraid to come out. Especially after the death of Mollana Sarfraz Naeemi no one is willing to come forward and save Ummah by fighting this ideological war. Tahir ul Qaderi’s recent Fatwa against radical Takfiries and extremists is a great effort but one or two Ulema cannot make difference. Its duty of Ulema from all sects to come forward and guide Ummah against the menace of Takfir and radical ideology.
This war on Terror is not American or Capitalist war on Islam. It’s in Fact a war within Islam in which out siders are getting benefits. The weakness of Ummah lies in its disunity. Muslims are divided in sects and all sects are against each other. Any observant of history can note that from Khajrjies of 7th and 8th century to Takfiries of Modern time, its Ummah alone which suffered and is suffering. Prophet time and again said that best way is the balanced way. Today Ummah is suffering because Ulema and Muslim intellectuals are not performing their duty.
We like to blame west for everything and forget the problems within our house. Our insensitivity towards problem within is alienating the Ummah from the world and making Muslims a laughing stock. There are thousands of ways to protest the imperialism and injustice but killing , destroying and hurting those who have nothing to do with situation is not the way. Muslim need to win PR battle in west. People who have compassion for even tress and other living things cannot be insensitive to situation in Muslim countries. and who will not come to help Muslims if they have positive perception of Muslims. Un fortunately instead of producing Scholars and humanitarians, Muslim are in reactionary mode. This is having bad effect on the perceptions in minds of balanced and humanity loving people of west and America. In Fact Islamic radicals are helping western Radicals in this ideological war , only honest humans are suffering.
Its also duty of Citizens of Western Countries especially America to understand Muslim mind set and sensitivities in light of history. They should put pressure on their governments to bring justice in world order. For example US has tried to defend Israel over Peace flotilla incident. If Israel is left without condemnation and sanctions it will only help Radicals in their propaganda. But if Israel is forced by International community to apologize and sanctions are put on it things will be different. Muslims will feel that they are not out cast and have say. Similarly if western intellectuals educate people that Making fun of some ones most respected Religious personality is a crime similar to crime of denying holocaust and even more bigger as its terrorism against billions of Muslims and FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION do not mean Intellectual or psychological terrorism then it will help to great extent, to balanced Ulema in war against radical Islamists.
Summing up War on terror cannot be won without defeating the radical ideology of Al Qaeda and Takfir. Use of force against radicals is a short term answer which in long term creates more radicals. The radicalism which often is blamed on Islam is in fact a reaction to western imperialism and feeling of discrimination and suffering by Muslims. These radicals claim to fight for Islam but in fact are creating more suffering in Muslim Ummah along with bringing bad name to Islam . Its duty of Muslim intellectuals , especially Ummah to come forward and help fight this ideological war which has more serious consequences on world of Islam then any discrimination or injustice faced by Muslims.