Peshawar Attack Exposes Pakistani Denial

Ignorance and lack of awareness has made Pakistanis gullible and vulnerable to accept any agenda as plain truth.

pakistani-peshawar-attackOn the fateful day of December 16, 2014, when Pakistan was remembering the tragedy of losing its Eastern Wing; another tragedy took place.

Seven armed terrorists motivated by religious zeal, wreaked havoc in a school in Peshawar and killed 132 children and nine staff members. Pakistan has suffered many gruesome terrorist attacks during the last 13 years but this one was unique and it was dubbed as a mini-9/11. This attack united all Pakistani political parties to form a plan to root out terrorism from Pakistan. Still, Pakistan is in a state of denial about the real cause and perpetrators of terrorism.

All major political and religious leaders of Pakistan openly declared that terrorists have nothing to do with Islam and that terrorism has no religion. This is a negation of the basic fact and reflects a sense of denial. Terrorists who butchered 132 children in Peshawar were Muslims. They were inspired by religious ideology which motivated them to sacrifice their lives for the cause. Tehreek-e-Taliban-e-Pakistan (TTP), the organization which claimed responsibility for the attack, has apparently waged jihad against Islamabad for implementing shariah (Islamic law).

In such circumstances, denying the terrorists’ religious background and declaring them to be infidels is nothing but further proof of Pakistan’s state of denial. This will not only prevent solving the issue but it will exacerbate the matter as religious indoctrination, which is the true root cause of the terrorism, is denied.

Madrasas (Islamic seminaries) are the primary breeding ground for religious extremism and militancy in Pakistan.

Irrespective of who is running those seminaries and what their motives are, this fact can’t be denied that the root cause of terrorism in Pakistan is an unchecked network of thousands of seminaries. When government showed its intentions to regulate these seminaries, religious clergymen reacted aggressively. They termed any attempt to bring seminaries under the rule of law as threat to Islam.

Playing the Islam card is the favorite past time of the clergyman and their most commonly used method of survival. Defending seminaries, Federal Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali said that only 10 percent of these institutions can be the source of the problem and the rest are just imparting religious education. Former Interior Minister Chaudhry Shujahat Hussain also defended the seminaries and rejected the notion that seminaries have any role in terrorism.

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Therefore, the question must be asked: When Islamabad is sympathetic to the source of the problem, how can it possibly be resolved?

Pakistani citizens are also in state of denial about the terrorists. The national discourse about terrorism is that it’s related to war in Afghanistan and all the terrorists are foreign saboteurs disguised as Muslims. Many educated Muslims can be seen arguing to defend this discourse. The opinion of the masses about this topic is dominated by right-wing columnists, conservative politicians and clergymen who influence common Pakistanis.

How can a person expect Pakistanis to be rational about this issue when the most prominent evangelist in the country, instead of condemning the terrorists, declares that the Peshawar school attack resulted from the “wrath of God.”

This is a serious problem that Pakistan is facing because without getting popular support of the people, it’s not possible to defeat the threat of terrorism.

If truth be told, the root cause of terrorism in Pakistan is the policy of using jihad to achieve foreign policy objectives. In order to execute the policy, a conservative agenda has been pushed in the Pakistani mainstream for the last three decades. As a result, intellect and politics has drifted to the right.

Ignorance and lack of awareness has made Pakistanis gullible and vulnerable to accept any agenda as plain truth. As long as the state of denial pertaining to the terrorism in Pakistan continues, no action plan, military courts or collective political effort can eradicate the menace of terrorism. Incidents like the Peshawar school massacre will create a short-lived uproar and when the dust settles everything will be back to normal again.

Adnan Aamir is a freelance researcher, analyst and columnist. Adnan is also editor of The Balochistan Point, an online newspaper from Pakistan. Follow him on Twitter @iAdnanAamir and visit his blog www.adnan-aamir.com. Read other articles by Adnan.