.. by Mir Wazir Khan
Global terrorism of different forms and manifestations (economic, social, political, military, racial and religious) has become a formidable challenge to the contemporary world to tackle with. A variety of extremist and terrorist acts in the East and in the West has awakened and shaken the world to the reality that terrorism is not just religion-specific. Given the current propensity towards terrorism across the world, it is often difficult for someone to feel secure anywhere in the world.
The economically well off and educationally advanced and enlightened nations of the world up until now considered Muslims and the religion of Islam as the major reason behind the causes in the increase in acts of terrorism.? Though there has been acts of terrorism, in which some disgruntled Muslims were involved. But the scope of terrorism has engulfed the entire world and the causes in the spread of terrorism lie somewhere else. It is now quite evident that the advanced and modern nations of the world are also facing the challenges of terrorism in which elements other than Muslims are involved. Acts of terrorism in France, USA, Canada and New Zealand suggest that the scourge of terrorism are not region or religion-specific.
The nations of the world and particularly Western nations often fail to discern the contemporary genesis and effects of extremism and terrorism. Extremism and terrorism are two sides of the same coin. Extremism is a mindset and a philosophy (I am right and my system of belief and my ?way of life? is the most supreme and anyone not adhering to it is liable to be exterminated) that breeds and promotes terrorism. Extremism is born and promoted on the notion of the superiority of a particular colour, caste, creed or a ?way of life? and a ?system? and any perceived challenge to that perceived superiority is countered with use of brute force, annihilation and threat of annihilation. Apart from generally observed and understood racial and religious nature of extremism, there are many more instances of extremism in our national lives and nationhood. For instance, if a major chunk of humanity considers a particular form of governance, economic system or ?way of life? as the only correct way and vast majority of humanity is considered as barbarians and intimidated to change their ways by the use of sheer force then extremism becomes institutionalized. When extremist views at individual, ethnic, religious, linguistic and national level are implemented through use of force then terrorism takes roots.
As said earlier, there are many forms of terrorism and many causes behind the spread of terrorism. For the eradication of the menace of terrorism, it is important that nations in the East and the West and more particularly in the Western world, should impartially and unbiasedly, define terrorism and then address the causes behind the promotion of terrorism. For example, during the last couple of years there occurred dozens of violent and deadly acts of terrorism in the United States in which hundreds died in mass shootings but these were not categorized as acts of terrorism; rather these were called as individual acts by ?lone wolf?. Extremist views around caste, creed and colour and use of force by extremist to correct the perceived wrongs should be considered as acts of terrorism no matter where and by whom such events happen!
There are many reasons behind the rapid spread of extremism and terrorism. The reasons and causes are mainly economic, political, social and religious. Economic terrorism happens when due to lack of equality of opportunity people suffer extreme poverty. Presently, extreme poverty is considered as the major challenge to the sociopolitical stability of the world. Economic inequality between nations of the world and among people of different countries increases anger and despondency resulting in the formation of extremist views as people do not find equal opportunity to quality education, employment and affordable leisure time. Without economic equality and without addressing bare minimum needs of human life, extremism and terrorism cannot be properly addressed. Examples of economic terrorism at national and international level are unfavorable trade barriers, arbitrary economic sanctions and territorial blockades against small and less powerful but independent nations, political plotting and use of force to capture energy-rich countries of the world.
There are political decisions that become major causes in the spread of extremism and terrorism. The almost ineffective role of the United Nations Organization in the resolution of world disputes and the unresolved political disputes of Palestine, Kashmir and such other regional disputes harden hearts and minds of dispossessed people, and which in turn, motivate them to choose the path of violent struggle to achieve their goals. The UNO, instead of reining militarily powerful countries, in their indiscriminate use of force, is content with providing support in the mass funerals, relief and rehabilitation to the deceased and displaced. Events in Congo in the mid ?90s, in the Darfur region of Sudan and in Burma are examples in this regard. The conflicts in Iraq, Syria, Libya, Yemen, Afghanistan and the current confrontation of the USA with Iran and Venezuela are solid proof that in the promotion of extremism and terrorism, the Western world is more responsible than other countries whether Muslim or non-Muslims.
The philosophy and resultant diplomacy whereby regime changes are made through naked interventions and use of force by powerful nations, particularly the United States and her allies, to achieve their military and economic objectives has inflicted more suffering and difficulties to millions than what terrorism acts combined have done. ?Any nation— whether Iraq, Libya, Syria, Cuba, Venezuela, Iran or North Korea- which treads an independent course in foreign relations and refuse to bow before the powerful and her allies are threatened or have been virtually subjected to violent regime changes through use of force. The Western support to autocratic and authoritarian regimes, at the cost of hopes and aspiration of the people, across the world and particularly in the Muslim world are other major causes of extremism and terrorism. The people favor a form of government that is democratic and inclusive and ensure social, economic and political rights to the people while the current regimes are dynastic and despotic and the US support to those regimes is only for cheap energy resources and for military stations.
The social causes of terrorism revolve around the notion of racial superiority.? The notion of ?White Supremacism? prevalent in the West consider people of different colors as inferior no matter for how long these ?others? have been living in the same society and no matter how best they have adjusted to the society and to the country of their adoption. It is also to be found in societies on basis of social status, power and wealth. When those in power use the power to promote their own interests at the cost of the vast majority; when those who are responsible to provide welfare and prosperity to the people? treat the people as cattle and chattel then this form of extremism by powerful elites against the overwhelming majority is sure to develop different types of extremism among the deprived majority. For example, Pakistan is under billions of dollars of foreign debt. For payment of the huge debt and to carry on the day-to-day business of the statehood, the country is forced to beg for more loans from World Bank, IMF, China, UAE and Saudi Arabia often Pakistan?s vital national interests and self-esteem being compromised in favor of lending countries and institutions. ?The foreign loans and other resources of the State are seldom efficiently used for the wellbeing of the people. The resources so collected are again used to further strengthen the existing repressive system. The perks and privileges of those in power is all that matters while the plight of the masses doesn?t matter at all no matter how difficult and nasty their lives are! For the masses the leadership exhorts to exercise ?patience? and ?contentment? as good Islamic traits while they themselves enjoy luxurious lifestyles. Such conditions of pity and hopelessness is certain to increase the ranks of extremists and terrorists.
Lastly, there are religious causes of terrorism. The Western world pays more attention to this brand of terrorism. While religious terrorism is very small in size and severity in comparison to political, military and economic terrorism perpetrated by powerful nations and terrorism caused by corrupt and oppressive regimes against their people. The religious causes of terrorism mostly happen when every body assumes the role of interpreters of religious injunctions and commandants which results in polarization and in the promotion of extremist views in the society. There should be a central authority or institution to interpret and explain the religious injunctions and commandants. The central authority should have the capacity to objectively analyze the context in which a particular divine Revelation was revealed and the capability to interpret the same in accordance with the present time. The presence of such a central authority or a forum, in different religions, at national and international level, will help in explaining the higher purposes of Religions, Revelations and Scriptures and their roles in ensuring the establishment of better societies. This will also greatly help in promoting interfaith harmony among major denominations and religions and in combating terrorism across the world.
There is a need for the establishment of a Global Centre for the Prevention of Terrorism under the UNO to study the causes of global terrorism, strife and violence and to recommend policy matters to nation-states as remedial measures to combat and contain terrorism. Comprehensive approach towards the causes of terrorism should be adopted and mega reasons behind terrorism should be agreed upon. Presently, powerful countries in the Western and in the Muslim world, and their regimes and power structures, which mostly favor the status quo and extend benefits to the privileged class at the cost of the alienated poor, are deliberately maintaining silence and inactivity with regard to the real and genuine reasons behind extremism and terrorism. Both radicals and liberal-secular forces are committing intellectual dishonesty in not honestly and clearly identifying the causes of extremism and addressing the same. It is surmised that extremism and acts of terrorism provide militarily powerful nations a pretext to extend their sphere of influence across the world through military interventions on the pretext of combating terrorism. The autocratic regimes, mostly in the Muslim world, are also not sincere in curbing terrorism because acts of isolated incidents of violence by narrow-minded elements provide them an opportunity to suppress dissenting views and subjugate their people. A true and factual representation of religious edicts, intellectual honesty, economic and political emancipation of their people might create a system and a world where powerful nations would not find chances for military and economic domination. The dynastic and autocratic regimes will also find such a holistic emancipation of their people as dangerous to their regimes. The powerful and privileged groups, in the power structure of corrupt nation-states, also does not favor such a change as it would make people well-aware and truly enlightened to voice their concerns which may bring down elitist power structures.
The recent US decision of declaring Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corp (IRGC)?an Iranian paramilitary organization— as terrorist organization appears to be a case in point on how powerful nations skew definition and interpretation of terrorism in their favor. There are reports and news items appearing in international media that the USA and Egyptian regime are deliberating on how to declare the Ikhawn-ul-Muslimun (the Muslim Brotherhood of Egypt) a terrorist organization is another example. The Ikhwan-ul Muslimun is a pan-Islamist revivalist party founded by Hassan al-Banna in 1928 in Egypt for reawakening, revival and unity of Muslims in the face of harsh imperialism and colonialism of post- World War-1 era. The Muslim Brotherhood is largely a longstanding global Islamist political movement with commendable record of religious and welfare works across the world, including Europe and the United States. Hence, there are different definitions of extremism and terrorism and apparently the real causes of extremism and terrorism are willfully camouflaged. It is high time that the increase in the tempo of extremism and terrorism and come up with urgent solution for them. .. Mir Wazir Khan, Chitral 24 May 2019