Groundhog Day

I write this on Friday, filled with trepidation. I am worried that somewhere a terrorist attack will take place and more people will be killed. I cannot be blamed for this pessimism because that's what's been happening for the last five weeks or so.

It seems that the hangings of some terrorists (mostly those who attacked Musharraf and army) do not seem to have stopped these attacks. Surprise surprise! When the establishment supports and endorses these people, did we actually think these hangings would work? I didn't. This will continue because the establishment will let it continue and will keep on spreading the hyper anti-India agenda to fool people.

We should also not be surprised that Shia genocide continued this week without any adequate response from the government. This has happened countless times before. Minorities, especially the Shia community, have been on the receiving end of Sunni Islamists for decades.

What needs to be understood is that all sects of Islam, like any other religion, think that theirs is the only true religion and that their sect is the only true version of that religion. This is what is taught to them in their homes and in their religious schools.

In Pakistan, the 'assets' we cultivated to counter India were primarily Sunni Islamist organizations and when they turned toward Pakistan, they specifically target Shia Muslims. This is not to say that others are not being targeted – they are – but the focus seems to be, as always, Shia Muslims.

With the last attack, I heard people come back with their conspiracy theories that this is of course due to 'foreign agencies' trying to destabilize the country by instigating Shia-Sunni conflict. I also heard that the attackers are doing this in retaliation to the army's operation to curb terrorist elements in the North of Pakistan.

I don't buy it. Why specifically target Shias in that case?

Frankly, I am tired of this rhetoric. Shias are being targeted because they are deemed kafir by the various Sunni factions, which is why Islamist terrorist organizations are out to eliminate them. They will continue to do so because the State seems powerless to stop them.

I have said this before and I say again, the religious seminaries are the root of this problem and they need to be taken to task. Just bombing terrorist hangouts in North Waziristan and hanging some terrorists is not the solution to this issue. Simply having anti-terrorist courts will not resolve this because we are not going after the root of the problem.

The courts are set up on the premise that we have caught a bunch of Islamist terrorist and we must quickly have them tried and hanged. This thinking does not take into account that more and more Islamists are being bred in seminaries, ready to go out and take on the “kuffar”. It does not take into account that in the last decade the average Pakistani mindset has become more and more tribal, not only in terms of their country but also in terms of religion and ethnicity.

Whatever the state is doing to eliminate terrorism is not going to work because it is concentrating on only one end of the pipeline. The need to is to also concentrate on the other end by regulating foreign funding for madrassas; by regulating what is being taught in these schools; by ensuring that banned religious organizations are actually banned and not allowed to roam our streets with impunity

Most importantly though, there is a need to counter the narrative of superiority over the 'other' and to understand that religion will always be used to target people if we do not accept the problems inherent in the ideology. This is the root cause of all our problems and once this is taken into account, only then will we be able to a take positive step towards eliminating this curse and perhaps live in harmony with each other.

Saima Baig is a Karachi-based environmental economist, climate change consultant and a freelance writer. Follow her on Twitter

ePaper - Nawaiwaqt