You are infected with coccidioidomycosis and you don’t know what is it? How will you get rid of it? Can you give yourself a treatment, without knowing what are you suffering from? I think no. The first step in curing any disease is knowing and accepting it. Then, diagnosing and verifying, through the symptoms and the knowledge, acquired at the first place, then applying proper treatment, with all precautions and preventive measures, to cure, and eliminate the risk of future attack or infection.
Same is true when it comes about curing the terrorism, like any other disease it is one, and definitely the most dangerous. So dangerous that other day it killed 141 at Peshwar in just one incident, and hundreds and thousands before that in many others. I believe it can be cure if we know it, understand it, admit that we are sick of it, and present ourselves to proper treatment. Following measures can help us in a faster recovery.
Redefine and relate the concept
Go out and ask the folks, people from different walks of life; ask them who attacked at Peshawar School? Who they really were? And majority of them will answer your question. They’ll tell you “those weren’t Muslims… because no Muslim can do that.” Really? Is this the case? Can we standardized this? If yes, then, I think, we can also say, “Muslims are not corrupt, because corruption is prohibited in Islam.” So by this stranded, making any law and doing any effort against corruption would be an implicit negation of this notion. And if we accept it, there is no need of any, I mean absolutely any law against corruption as it is a Muslim majority country and they can’t be corrupt so no need… am I right? No, I am not right and neither they are. So here is a need to rethink and redefine the concepts related to terrorism. Here is a need to related and accept this phenomena. Accept and to be clear and bold like; “Yes, whoever did that, they could be Muslims could be non-Muslims, but they did wrong, and should be punished.”
Reprogram the programmer
I don’t know, if you have heard the story of two fast friends, a politician and a Peer Sahib, but I did. Peer Sahib got a lot of disciples, purchased land and constructed Mosques. Then, he appointed his Qari and Hafiz in every mosque which was (and is) his property. They served well, very well, and Peer Sahib’s friend never lost an election. This and similar kind of stories are true about every mosque, these are like someone’s private property. One or another group has its control on them and they have their own interpretation of religion, which is obviously different from the other group’s. So the point is, as long as state doesn’t take the control of mosque; device and authorize a policy and a person, to run and regulate the matters, biased, violent and extremist interpretations are inevitable. You can’t simply minus the role of Molvi in our society, these are people, society need at everything, from birth to adultery, and from marriage to funeral, they are interpreters of the religion, they are programmers of the society. So need is not to mess up with them but alter the role, because reprogrammed programmers can serve the purpose of making this society less biased, non-violent and non-extremist; a place to live in peace.
Launch effective media campaigns
Two things are really connected, military operations and media campaigns. Military operations without making the public consensus can be counterproductive. But if they move step by step, building public opinion and getting all of them, and without discrimination of good or bad, I think this can work. Media houses can broadcast and print, anything that makes masses understand the direction of authorities, by changing their perceptions, and they should. As they did in the past, while introducing these as true heroes of Islam at first place. Also, a strict media monitoring is required, to keep a check on those who are implicitly or explicitly promoting the agenda of terrorist’s organizations, and there are many. Exact number can be checked but a rough estimate is of hundreds, including the (print) newspapers like Ghazwa and Zarb-E-Momin, which are distributed free, and many (electronic) newspapers and blogs. There are others, who aren’t publishing propaganda newspapers but they are writing for big houses, and contaminating the public opinion, need to check them too.
Bring syllabus modification
We all know, I assume, what our syllabus teaches us. Those who went school before seventies read a different syllabus but after Zia’s take over, the situation changed dramatically. Later, on one hand America was spending million dollars on Afghan Schoolchildren syllabus and on other hand syllabus was being changed in Pakistan. We printed and published, horrendous pictures and worse text, a weapon of self-destruction for our own children, which taught violence and extremism, and ultimately prepare them to join “Afghan Jihad”, better known dollar Jihad. Now it is time to accept our mistake (blunder) and go to fix it. Syllabus in our government schools still need a lot of modifications, to de-radicalize and moderate the minds of our children to make them tolerant toward other religions and respect difference.
Go for Madrasa reforms
I know, many people don’t like talk about madrasa reforms but I am not going to ask for typical one. A friend of mine just talked to me and told me about someone, who was on TV, and has proposed a different solution for madrassa reforms. According to my friend, he was a foreign qualified religious scholar who said, students of these madrassa’s can be awarded scholarships not by the government but by different capable families instead of paying Zakat and Sadqa, and they can also go in a private school. Although it looks difficult but if government take an initiative with civil societies’ help it can be done.
Writer is an Mphil student at Iqra University Islamabad, blogs at Kashmirica.org and works with Institute for Social and Economic Justice (ISEJ). He tweets @imrankhushaal