Misinterpreting ideologists

Daily: The Nation
Date: 04.08.04

Thanks God, Mr. Shaukat Aziz, the future Prime Minister, escaped a suicide bomb attack on
his life while he was returning from a public meeting regarding his election campaign held at
a village Jaffar Morr, near Fateh Jang, Attock.

It is a high time for Pakistan to realize the difference between a terrorist and an ideologically
motivated person (ideologist). A terrorist goes after material (money and matter) gains and
tries to save his own life during a terrorist act to enjoy the material reward. While, an
ideologist opts for immaterial (ideological) gains and gets ready to lay down his own life first
— during an ideologist act — to meet a certain cause.

Bomb explosions are not a new phenomenon in Pakistan. During the late years of the
Afghan war, a wave of explosions was introduced through Raja Bazaar (a densely
populated area), Rawalpindi by planting bombs. Later on, Karachi became a main target
city. The aim was to create panic in general public to affect the then government indirectly.
That is, to punish it for its existing policies and to compel it to reshape its future policies. At
the end of every such explosion, the intelligence agencies of India, Afghanistan, and the
former Soviet Union were blamed.

By the mid 90’s, the domestic Shia-Sunni strife had taken a violent turn. It relied initially on
throwing of hand grenades and showering of bullets on religious places of each other.
However, in the late 90’s, two new methods were introduced. The first was a target killing
and the second was a suicide bombing. These developments have depicted the ideological
commitment of both the sides towards their respective part of sect. On the sectarian
ground, hitherto, both the methods have worked separately. To that reference, the attacks
on a Church in Islamabad, besides in other cities, and on the US centers in Karachi hold
analogy with the two methods active in the sectarian domain.

Very recently, an improvement on the aforementioned two methods has happened: the
target killing has joined with the suicide bombing. That is, a person who chooses to commit
a suicide also imposes the suicide on some target person. In other words, a person who
wants to kill a target person selects to impose the suicide on himself first and the target
person later. The main examples are suicide bomb attacks on General Pervaiz Musharraf
and now on Mr. Shaukat Aziz. These acts can be carried out by no other than ideologists.
The trend indicates that the ideologists have now landed on political grounds to achieve
their ideological goals. Hence, the journey of target killing-cum-suicide bombing from
religious to political arena is decipherable.

It was the ideological commitment that prompted some Pakistanis to go even empty hands
or with old rusty guns to fight against the attackers (the US and allies) in Afghanistan in
October 2001. The same commitment has been witnessed recently in the South Waziristan
when the host refused to handover the foreign guests till the host died of a missile attack. It
is also because of the same commitment owing to which the al-Qaeda members have been
found hiding with their Pakistani hosts in different cities of Pakistan.

It indicates that in the society a significant level of receptivity for the ideologists is present.
One of its reasons may be the impression of the government that it is working at behest of
the US against its own people especially and in opposition to the Muslims generally. The
same feeling creates a line of division in the society both horizontally and vertically. The
same gives birth to the disgruntled people who do not find a way to provide vent to their
sentiments. They behave like opening the lid of a pressure cooker suddenly! They,
perhaps, consider that the targeted suicide killing can give relief to the likeminded people
— once and for all, besides providing them the spiritual solace after death. That is the point
where Pakistan stands today.

Here arises a question: to what direction is the new spate of violence (suicidal trend)
leading Pakistan? Does the solution lie in beefing up security for high-ups? For how long
does the situation continue? Moreover, keeping in view the aforementioned nature and
direction of the emerging violence, what is next? Is Pakistan ready for more blood shed on
its soil?

In response to the suicide bomb attack, when Mr. Aziz said that the incident had
strengthened his resolve to serve both Pakistan and the Muslim Ummah, he was basically
saying that the people, who were bringing bad name to Pakistan and the Muslim Ummah,
would not deter him.

With the respective suicide bomb attacks, for both Pervaiz Musharraf and Shaukat Aziz, a
message was aired: anyone who takes the US side will suffer. There was also an implied
message for the US and allies: you punish our men and we penalize the men who side with
you. Almost same is the meaning of words of one of the groups of al-Qaeda, which has
taken responsibility for the failed attack on Mr. Aziz.

The prevalent situation basically indicates that the fight is of someone with someone else.
However, Pakistan has been caught in the crossfire. In a country where there is receptivity
for the ideologists, the word terrorists cannot become a popular alternative despite a
continuous rhetoric that ‘Pakistan is an ally of the US in war on terror’.

The need of the hour is: identify a cause exactly only then an appropriate solution can be
found out. Hence, better is to use the word ideologists to understand them and bring out a
plausible solution before Pakistan becomes a battleground for  pro-US and anti-US forces!

Back to columns in 2004