Extremism in Pakistan, increasing or decreasing? By M M Noble

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The issue of Salman Rushdi has yet again sent a shock wave in Islamic world initiated by Pakistani Muslims. The Pakistani Government Minister Ejaz-ul-Haq reacted on the knighthood of Rushdie in the following way;
He said: “If someone commits suicide bombing to protect the honour of the Prophet Muhammad (SAW), his act is justified.” He later “clarified” his words, but we who know the blasphemy law in Pakistan all can sense exactly what he was up to. Ejaz â€" ul- Haq is not the only government official expressed his extreme views in this fashion. The Speaker off Punjab Assembly Afzal Sahi on Thursday said he will kill any offender of blasphemy against the holly
prophet (PBUH), if that person comes across. During debate in the house over knighthood to Salman Rushdie and a statement of former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto on the issue, the Speaker ruled that an blasphemer is liable to be killed and he will definitely kill the blasphemer if that person will come across. He said it is the faith of every Muslim.

Benazir Bhuto, the PPP chairperson revealed that “this was the second time that a Musharraf aide justified suicide killings.” Commenting on Ejaz â€"ul-Haq reaction Benazir stated as a minister for religious affairs he had appointed the cleric of Lal Masjid under whose influence were, what she called, “militant Madrassas” of Jamia Hafsa and Jamia Fareedia” She claimed, “The cleric has publicly disclosed that Madrassas house suicide bombers who can be sent out to play havoc.”

Given the statements of the minister “justifying suicide attacks as well as his connection with Lal Masjid” Benazir’s claims certainly have some weight given the recent conflict with religious clerics in Islamabad and Government’s in ability to take stronger action against two clerics. She said “it was strange that the Lal Masjid cleric admitted housing suicide bombers while the minister justified suicide bombings and the Musharraf regime neither investigated the minister nor took steps to identify and apprehend the suicide bombers.” I think she is at least right in pointing the two masks which we see on the part of Pakistani government.
In addition to this I have come across another report which I think yet another reminder of extremism in Pakistani territories. I think part of this report would good for those have not read this. Here it is;

“Suicide bombers from Pakistan sneaking into London

LONDON: A fresh brigade of suicide bombers is sneaking into London to unleash carnage after “graduating” from training camps in Pakistan, claims a Daily Telegraph report.

A Pakistani journalist was invited to attend and take pictures as around 300 recruits, including boys as young as 12, were supposedly sent off on their suicide missions. The report claims that a Taliban propaganda film has shown prospective suicide bombers vowing to bring carnage to Britain and other Western countries after “graduating” from a training camp in Pakistan.

According to the report, the Taliban leadership is a prolific producer of DVDs designed to inspire followers as well as sow fear, but the latest footage broadcast by ABC News was genuinely chilling. It purported to show large teams of foreign nationals, supposedly from Britain, the United States, Canada and Germany, pledging to return home to carry out attacks.

Filmed on June 9 at a camp said to be used by both the Taliban and al-Qaeda, the ceremony is conducted by a Taliban military commander, Mansoor Dadullah, whose brother, the feared warlord Mulla Dadullah, was killed in Afghanistan last month.

Dadullah said: “These Americans, Canadians, British and Germans come here to Afghanistan from faraway places. Why shouldn’t we go after them?” The leader of the team reportedly assigned to attack Britain spoke in English on the footage. “So let me say something about why we are going, along with my team, for a suicide attack in Britain,” he said “Whether my colleagues, companions and Muslim brothers die today or tonight, every drop of our blood will invigorate the Muslim (unintelligible).”

Reading these chilling reports and claim of Pakistan government that there is only a tiny minority that holds extreme views I am confused which one is right. Moreover, President Musharaf and some of his colleagues putting a lot of effort to assure the rest of the world that their government is moderate and they are promoting tolerance. However, since Musharraf regime has not sacked the minister and has not investigated the matter with Speaker of the Punjab Assembly, it seems apparent that official in the government are putting on two hats. Those who are assuring us that they are moderate taking the lead in covertly fuelling extremism.

Not only this but the fact that the extreme views are coming out Pakistani government quarters raise the question whether extremism in Pakistan is increasing or decreasing. Furthermore, it highlights the fact that it is not illiterate, ignorant and people from deprived back ground who are generally accused of extremism but so- called educated and well- informed people.

MM Noble
Glasgow, Scotland

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