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Despite the Tragedy, Extremism Will be Fought by Pakistanis

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140 are dead and 538 injured in Karachi suicide attacks on the biggest rally of the country's largest secular party. Millions had rejected extremism earlier on the streets of Karachi!

October 18 was the day of unforgettable images – moving pictures of excitement, energy, applause and then the saddest of recent tragedies. Innocent men and women charged with emotion and enthusiasm were blown away by suicide bombers, remote devices and alien belief systems. Or was it the case of wilful machinations and deceit. Only time will tell.

Benazir Bhutto returned to Pakistan, much like a character in a  Greek tragedy – tearful, maligned, triumphant and a little pawn in the hands of gods. Amid the voices of criticism and hypocrisy that failed to note the complexity of our times, she emerged as a people's woman – once again. Here were millions of loyalists dancing, singing and clapping – their queen, exiled and beaten had re-emerged.

The show reaffirmed that her massive party was intact and alive as the moderate, secular reality of Pakistan. Her supporters couldn't care about the cost or the process. That was for the armchair classes of Pakistan to ponder about. The pull of the Bhutto name for the have-nots was once again reestablished.

So began a journey on the blood-lined roads of Karachi that have cracked with violence, and lawlessness in the recent years. Yet a million people moved ahead oblivious of the fault lines that run from the drab, destroyed villages of Afghanistan to Karachi passing through a web of seminaries, officialdom and Lal Masjids of this world.

Halfway done, this peaceful journey – a testament of what the real Pakistan is all about – halted. And, something had erupted: imperial projects, state dictats and the crumbling centre. There were flesh, blood, fire and tears, and the wretched TV screens have documented all of this. Devastating is one word that replaced amazing by the time we crossed the midnight in Pakistan! Rumi had said:

A splinter is often
difficult to get out.
How much more difficult a thorn
in the heart! If everyone could find that thorn
in themselves, things would be
much more peaceful here!

A head   flashed on the screens – they can’t tell if it was a BB loyalist or the suicide bomber. The TV channels are flashing bodies again and again – imposed on the senses until you are numb, exhausted and terrified. And, glorifying terror is the last thing we need.

Urooj Zia, a newspaper reporter was there:

There were people, bits of people, blood EVERYWHERE. An AryOne World {TV channel}, cameraman lay there dying in front of us. We moved him to a police mobile, but he died in the hospital. I knew he would. I got his blood all over me — my hands, arms, clothes, shoes. Then there were charred bodies of policemen — smoke rising from them. Slippery blood everywhere….I went back to work after that, filed my story. … Puked a couple of times too.”

As Pakistanis we know that these are enemies of democracy and moderation. Their precise identity is known to all – who doesn’t know that they are looming with their hatred and arms across the country.

Our religion does not allow targeting women even in wartime and suicides are FORBIDDEN. Period. There is now a consensus at Al-Azhar and various other places of Islamic scholarship. If this is about Waziristan or the Lal Mosque then it should be fought elsewhere and not against the unarmed, dispossessed political workers.

All Pakistanis have united in condemning this barbarity. Violence, militancy and suicide attacks are, and will remain, unacceptable. Legitimate politics must not give way to warlordism!

Down with Talibanisation! Benazir’s show of strength and the millions who traveled for days to reach Karachi proved that the lunatic fringe is not supported by the majority. Serious questions remain on how to fight it despite the popular rejection of extremism. The answers, perhaps, are more democracy, prosperity and development. Phony wars on terror will not do! It has to be a people’s war against extremism and the process has commenced on October 18.

An earlier version of this post appeared here.

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About Raza Rumi

  • Ruvy in Jerusalem

    “As Pakistanis we know that these are enemies of democracy and moderation. Their precise identity is known to all – who doesn’t know that they are looming with their hatred and arms across the country.”

    Raza, the vast majority of us reading this article are not Pakistani. Are you at liberty to reveal the precise identity of those responsible for this tragedy?

  • http://www.razarumi.com Raza Rumi

    Ruvy
    thanks for the comment. The identity of these criminals is well known – a group of lunatics who want to impose a narrow, bigoted version of Islam and are keen to use terror as a weapon (despite the fact that there is no room for such actions in Islam).

    Alas, these extremists have been trained in the 80s by the West as a pawn to wage the war against Communism with the active support of Pakistani establishment. Now they have turned into Frankensteins and the US foregin policy does’nt help either – fuels their idiotic beliefs further.

    But the majority – an overwhelming majority – does not support them. And, with democracy, economic progress and more education, we will beat them!

  • Cindy D

    Great article Raza. Thanks for the information.

  • http://www.razarumi.com Raza Rumi

    Cindy: thanks

  • Ruvy in Jerusalem

    Raza,

    Naturally, anyone living in this country can feel an immense amount of sympathy and empathy for the situation your nation has just gone through.

    But it occurs to me that we have seen something like this before, and if you are right in your accusations, then we are seeing the modus operandi of the Wahhabi/Salafi hijackers of Islam at work. We saw this shortly after the American occupation of Iraq began, where the Wahhabi/Salafi, who do not care if they kill Moslems to push their ideas, succeeding in destabilizing Iraq with a series of bombings that pit Shi’a Moslem against Sunni Moslem, with the Wahhabi/Salafi holding their coats, so to speak.

    I suggest to you that you are seeing something similar now in Pakistan, which is a powderkeg for entirely different reasons.

    Put simply, the Wahhabi/Salafi, who have followers in Deoband (the source, as you well know, of the Taliban) are going to work on Pakistan as they have on Iraq and Israel, where they have effectively annexed Hamas into their terror network.

    I am appealing to you as a Moslem (no, not a fellow Moslem, but a fellow believer in the One G-d, the G-d of Abraham Isaac, Ishmael and Israel) to understand that your faith (faith is the basis of Pakistan, after all) is being hijacked by the same people who seized Mecca from the Hashemi family eight decades ago.

    You are in the fight of your lives, and your enemies are not Musharraf, Bhutto or the Pakistani CIA – your enemies, like mine, operate from Riyadh.

    My best to you and may G-d comfort all the mourners who suffered from this terror attack and all the Children of Abraham.

  • http://www.funtasticasino.co.uk/ Pat

    Very informative. We need to hear more like this coming from Pakistan. The Western media paints a different picture of Pakistan and it is heartwarming to see that true human dignity of men and women can still outshine the tyranny.