Daily Archives: October 12, 2010

What Makes a Terrorist?

 By Taji M

How do you turn a young man or a woman into a terrorist, particularly a suicide bomber? The answer is a mystery to me as well as a large number of Pakistanis. We thought we had a predictable answer a few years back. The poor underprivileged children studying in hard-line Madarssas could be brainwashed and turned into killing machines. But if that was the real answer we should have had thousands of terrorists running rampant, thankfully this is not the case. More recently we are increasingly coming across educated upper middle class Muslims who have become hardliners to the level of resorting to terrorism. Some of them have in fact been living in conflict-free countries of Europe. So again, what changes a person into a killer?

Unfortunately to be effective and lethal, terrorists do not need a large number of recruits at any given point, they need only few but they do need a steady influx of new blood. We need to understand what factors would facilitate the terrorist agenda. I think one of the very fundamental mindset at play here is the distortion of concepts of Duniya and Aakhrat. Islam in general gives more importance to Hereafter than this world only to discourage the obsession of pursuing worldly gains alone. It was never meant to undermine this world totally. If that was the case, Islam would not have put so much emphasis on Rights of fellow human beings, on the conduct of good Muslims and so on. But take this view to the extreme, and observe how it can get warped. If someone starts to believe that world is a prison and many of the positives it has to offer are in fact fitna, then obviously the best thing one can do is to escape to hereafter as quickly as possible. And then what better way to enter Jannat then as a martyr who are suppose to get the highest echelons of heaven. This chain of thought would appear quite logical to an extremist. At the very extreme even collateral damage can be justified; killing a child of rival sect can be viewed as protecting the child from hell which he would be destined to go if he had lived to adulthood. Combine this logic with a sense of injustice prevailing in the Muslim youth of today on account of war on terror and you have a fertile ground for extremism.

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Will revolution save Pakistan?

Several recent articles have pointed hovering clouds of imminent revolution in Pakistan given the fast deteriorating situation and repeated disappointments with democracy and dictatorships. However, genuine revolutions tend to be bloody and produce mixed results. Some have led to functional democracies and thriving economies, while others have produced totalitarian governments and stagnant economies. In fact, most immediately successful revolutions have produced poor results later on. A dispassionate analysis of the possibilities and consequences of revolution in Pakistan seems sensible before pulling out our prayer rugs in support, so that revolutions do not disappoint us too, like the East Asian dictatorship model.
A genuine revolution is a fundamental change in power structure over a short period of time through violent means, and results in a new class taking over power, as in Europe, where capitalists replaced aristocrats. Heavy taxation by aristocrats on the new industrial economy to support their decadent life-styles provided ammunition for urban grievances. European revolutions succeeded as capitalist classes had attained significant wealth and power through scientific discoveries and colonial exploits. This allowed them to overthrow decaying landed classes and establish modern thriving economies.
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