Problems with fence sitters

Although not unexpected it is still quite a pathetic display by the majority of Islamic leaders in Pakistan. The group comprising of 150 leaders of the influential and widespread Deobandi school of thought held a rare gathering but refused to conclusively condemn terrorism, militancy and suicide attacks. The purpose of this gathering according to some “was to organize the movement for enforcement of Shariah through peaceful and democratic means” while others believe it was sponsored by government “to issue a fatwa or religious edict censuring militants”. However, the result of this meeting was the issuance of the following statement:

“Whatever is happening in Pakistan or Afghanistan today is a reaction to the American policies, its increasing influence and interference in Pakistan and our government’s inability to understand this fact and side with the West.”

Right, blame it on others so you yourself do not have to take any responsibility for your own actions. Even though I am not a supporter of the ongoing military operation, primarily due to the fact that it is resulting in a huge amount of civilian ‘collateral damage’ and secondly because there are still elements within the Pakistan Army who have strong connections with the militants. The second point is also evident from the fact that the recent gathering of Deobandi leaders included heads of various organizations that have been banned due to their involvement in militant activities. Plus the warm ties the Pakistani military and its ruling elite has maintained with these militants has hardly diminished in any sense. In such circumstances it is absurd to justify any number of civilian causalities that are currently occurring.

It is quite obvious that any edict given against the actions of the extremist by any group may not actually have a positive impact, however, in a heavily religiously indoctrinated country like Pakistan it is a starting point. Such a decree will not end the maddening fanaticism but it will help in at least creating a negative opinion amongst the masses which might hamper newer generations of suicide militants. Furthermore, a unanimous declaration against militant jihad might also have encouraged opening channels of debate and dialogue, even if so in the longer run. Debates can only be initiated once the rational members of these societies consider that it is safe and conducive to engage in such activities which will in turn aid in helping many others to question dogmatic ideas. The initial step however, in this direction has to start from denouncing of the radicalism and extremism at a larger scale and pluralistic levels.


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