PROFESSOR ALI SUKHANVER
For every writer, the comments of the readers on his writing are always of very much importance. It was somewhere in 2009, I penned down my views on Pak-China relations in an article which was published in different national and international newspapers and magazines. In that particular article I emphasized the need of more co-operation and closer relations betweenPakistanandChinabecause in my view this strong relationship would be in the larger interest of both the countries. One of my readers ‘Neal’, might be it a fictitious name, posted his comments in response to my article at all those places where the article was published. However the tone of his comments, the ideas expressed and the words chosen by him very clearly indicated that my worthy reader belonged to some extremist Hindu group might be residing somewhere in India. Here is an extract from his comments,” China Pakistan alliance is actually an alliance between the Communists and the Muslims. The shrewd Chinese believe, by having the Muslims on their side, they can take a short cut to global domination. The good news is, the Jews, the Christians and the Hindus have recognized this threat, and have come together to crush this evil nexus. Militarily, let alone theUSor Europe orJapanalone can destroyChinain a couple of weeks. Economically,Chinahas a long way to go before it can match the existing powers, while there are other powers emerging to rivalChinain the future. The US and Europe switching to the emerging economies like India, Brazil, South Africa, and closing doors on cheap Chinese low tech items would starve the Chinese to death in a few years … .” Though there is no compulsion that every reader must agree to what a writer says but the disagreeing comments of Mr. Neal provided me a lot of food for thought. Since that day I have been trying to find out the answer to a question: Is religion the actual basis of all political relationship and confrontation among different nations? If it is so, must we not give it the name of religious extremism?
TheUSpresident Obama has so many times tried to affirm the world that American war against terrorism is not a war against Islam or the Muslims. Same was the opinion of the British Prime Minister David Cameron during his speech on radicalization and Islamic extremism inMunichon 5th February 2011. David Cameron said, “Islam and Islamist extremism is not the same thing. Islam is a religion, observed peacefully and devoutly by over a billion people. Islamist extremism is a political ideology, supported by a minority.” It is said that he was in fact replying to the statement of Britain’s independent reviewer of anti-terrorism laws, Lord Carlile who had said a few days prior to Cameron’s speech that human rights rulings had made Britain a ‘safe haven’ for suspected foreign terrorists. The matter of fact is that in most of the countries including US,Britain,HollandandDenmark, disliking or hatred on the basis of religious ideologies has never been a state policy. It is the handiwork of particular groups of people who promote disgust against the followers of some particular religious ideology. The people from such groups could be anywhere, even among the law enforcing agencies and policy making institutes and even in various think tanks. With the passage of time, in most of the countries, such extremist groups have become so strong that they very easily by-pass the policies introduced by the government but their notorious intentions and actions cannot be called the ‘state-policy’ of a country.
Recently there have been reports that New York Police Department has been accused of spying on Islamic students inBrooklyne CollegeNew York. In a resolution,BrooklynCollege’s Faculty Council denounced the spying on Islamic students, suggesting that the police department targeted them without any proof that they were engaging in terrorist activity. The Faculty Council opposed surveillance activities by the NYPD and affiliated agencies either directly or through the use of informants for the purposes of collecting information independent of a valid and specific criminal investigation, the resolution read. The Faculty Council openly condemned the NYPD’s extensive spying operation directed against hundreds of Muslim mosques, schools, business, student groups, non-governmental organizations and individuals, reaching virtually every level of Muslim life inNew York City. Here the point to be pondered over is that the Faculty Council of theBrooklyneCollegedoes not consist of Muslim members nor this college is an institution belonging only to the Muslims. If we compare the New York Police Department with the Faculty Council of theBrooklyneCollege, we would find a lot of Christians in both the organizations but the Faculty Council is protecting the rights of the Muslim students and the New York Police Department is trying to label them as terrorists.
Be itPakistanorUSA, extremism is an individual way of looking at things. Extremists are everywhere, even inUSAas well as are inPakistan. On the basis of the thoughts and actions of a particular group of people, the whole nation must not be punished and penalized. When American drones attacks in Pakistan blindly and cruelly deprive countless innocent people of their lives, the result is nothing but a very deep rooted rage, wrath, anger and a passion of revenge. This rage and wrath is not against the Christians but againstUSA. TheUSpolicy makers must try to realize the gravity of situation. It is very easy to capture lands but very difficult to conquer hearts and minds. Instead of showering drones on innocent children and women inPakistanandAfghanistan, it could have been far better if these women and children were blessed with sympathy and kindness. We don’t need capture lands when hearts belong to us. This is the basic lesson in the book of humanity.
The writer is a Pakistan based analyst on defence and strategic affairs.