By Dr. Omar Ali
Originally published at wichaar.com under the headline “The Air Marshal’s incompetent bombmaker son”
The son of an air marshal ruined his own life and abandoned his wife and kids in an utterly incompetent attempt to blow up innocent people (some of whom were probably Pakistani cab drivers). Why is Pakistan is breeding so many Islamic fanatics (luckily for us, some of them are incompetent Islamic fanatics)?
In some ways, Islamic supremacism is not that different from Christian evangelism, Hindu revivalism or those Japanese rightwing nuts who go around in loudspeaker vans appealing to the emperor to restore Japanese honor and for everyone else to prepare to commit hara kiri. Its true that Christian fanatics and Hindu revivalists are not exploding in buses and trains in faraway countries, but psychologically the profile is very similar. In any case, in most places, STATES do most of the killing domestically as well as internationally. Or people fight the state locally. What is different about Islamist terrorism is that these killers are international in scope and action and they seem to have an endless supply of morons willing to ruin their own lives for the cause. But why are they headquartered in Pakistan? The ideology, after all, is more closely associated with Saudi Arabia. I think the reason is that the presence of Islam is not the critical factor. The road from ideology to actual explosion passes through state-sponsored education, an infrastructure of terrorism and a culture where this kind of bombing has become an accepted response to whatever is perceived as injustice. And the reason this infrastructure is headquartered in Pakistan rather than Saudi Arabia is because the elite has been uniquely stupid in Pakistan.
The people running India, Japan and the USA may be cynical, manipulative and greedy, but they still seem to have a vague grip on reality (and what human can hope for more than that?). Their worldview accomodates science, common sense, change and empirical evidence. The same is true even of the Iranian Mullahs and the Saudi Royal family. But in Pakistan and Afghanistan, the lunatics took over the asylum. They didnt really BUILD the asylum. It took the superior skills of the CIA to actually set up the infrastructure (though i personally dont think the CIA intended for it to be used beyond Afghanistan and maybe India, but who knows). But once the Americans had taught them how to blow up things, the students rushed off to start the neo-caliphate with wild abandon and the state security apparatus in Pakistan helped them, financed them, trained them, protected them and bless our souls, worked tirelessly to get them to the point where they can threaten the same state security apparatus. This level of stupidity may be unique in recent history. Maybe it was the result of the reverse selection procedures of the Pak army (selecting the dumbest people to become generals), maybe it was a result of the original millenarian fever that erupted at partition (look up millenarian on wikipedia by the way and you will not find partition listed there as an example, which just goes to show that even our advanced culture has its blind spots) or maybe it was just one of those things that happen in history; but whatever the reason (or reasons), for the last 30 years, THE STATE in Pakistan has been an active participant in this lunacy and the ideology has taken hold. Sons of air marshals are dreaming of setting off bombs in public places. That just takes the biscuit. I dont know what to say anymore.
On a purely western and academic left wing blog, where no contrary opinion can sneak in, I would actually blame the CIA and orientalism and colonialism (not necessarily in that order) and go to sleep a happy man, but even in that echo chamber things are starting to fall apart. Where will this go next, Allah alone knows for sure, we can only hazard a guess. So I will.
My guess: When the only tool you have is a hammer, everything is a nail. So I expect the state deparment to pass out more money to GHQ, I expect the CIA to fund some new insane lunatic fringe to counter their last lunatic fringe, I expect the pentagon to ask for more money for weapons and a good hard “shock and awe campaign”, I expect professors in San Francisco to blame colonialism, and I expect Islamists to blow themselves up with even greater devotion. In short, more of the same. Not really. I am just not in a good mood. I look forward to comments.
By the way, my criticism of mullahism or Zaid Hamid style burger jihadis or ISI-style sophisticated and underhanded jihadists is not primarily moral (it is PARTLY moral). My biggest complaint is that the parrot they are selling is DEAD! It died 800 years ago in Baghdad. He has ceased to be! he’s expired and gone to meet his maker. He’s a stiff! Bereft of life, ‘e rests in peace! His metabolic processes are now ‘istory! ‘E’s off the twig! ‘E’s kicked the bucket, ‘e’s shuffled off ‘is mortal coil, run down the curtain and joined the bleedin’ choir invisibile!! THIS IS AN EX-PARROT!!
I am not saying the capitalism or imperialism or whatever is OK and only mullahism is a problem. I am saying this dead parrot is a bloody distraction from the LIVE debates we could be having. It may be hard to say what the morally correct choice is in case A or case B, but its much easier to dismiss the choices that are no longer viable and have already visibly decayed and started to rot. THIS Islamism is not a viable parrot.
Finally, I do NOT mean to imply that “Islam” is the dead parrot we are talking about. Islam is alive as long as Muslims are around and surely they are going to be around for a long long time (If I remember correctly, in the classic sci-fi novel Neuromancer, they are even floating around smoking ganja in that orbiting space station where the Tessier-Ashpooles live, though there were no Muslim characters in the original Star Trek; make of that what you will). Islam will continue to grow and evolve and will be adapted to many things, as it has been in the past. But the dead parrot of the caliphate and “return to original purity” is the mother of all dead ends. To waste time and lives trying to revive that particular parrot is a waste and I am sure we can all agree that waste is not good.
The writer wishes to thank Monty Python for the dead parrot sketch and professor Mbokhari for first using it in relation to the late lamented caliphate.