Political and Religious Radicalization in Pakistan

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Pakistan is struggling against a host of multifaceted problems. Political and religious radicalization is the most formidable challenge it faces today. Terrorist attacks staged in Pakistan have killed numerous Pakistanis including armed forces personnel, politicians, and police officers. This indicates the severity of the terrorist threat faced by Pakistan today. On 6 May 2018, a fanatic shot Interior Minister of Pakistan at Narowal. It was so unfortunate that the country’s interior minister had been injured in a firing incident. Pakistan is already in a grey list and our enemies have been trying to destabilize Pakistan. Obviously, this attack will also dent Pakistan’s image abroad. The assailant recorded his statement and said that he attacked the Minister as he was angry over the statements were given by Ahsan Iqbal regarding an amendment to the Khatam-e-Nabuwat declaration.

Violence has become a routine matter in the country. Khadim Hussain Rizvi provoked the sentiments of innocent citizens for his personal political benefits. Rizvi led the sit-in against the government around three weeks in November, last year. As a result of his sit-in, many patients have lost their lives due to road blockage. With the resignation of Zaid Hamid (Law Minister) he finished his sit-in. He had paralyzed the life of Islamabad and Rawalpindi citizens by blocking the main links between Islamabad and Rawalpindi inter-provincial traffic. Here the question arises what are the factors contributing to such a violent landscape in Pakistan.

Terrorism and radicalization have a cause-and-effect relationship in Pakistan. The wave of dissatisfaction and frustration has prevailed in citizens due to the lack of systems in the country. Corruption, bribery, lack of access to justice and poor law enforcement capacity has disappointed a number of people in the country. There is a widespread perception among people that democracy will not help Pakistan to deal with its problems. They think it is not a true form of democracy. There is an extensive dissatisfaction among the masses over the current state of affairs in the country, which they feel needs to be changed.

While various kinds of radicalization have been on the spotlight worldwide, some young Muslims, seem to get entangled in religious extremism, and conveniently join hands with organizations like ISIS / TTP. Muslims are on spotlight due to terrorist attacks in Europe and USA. West believes that Islam is the religion of jihadist terrorists. The reality is that the role of religion in radicalization is totally overestimated. Islam is a religion of peace and it promotes peace and forbids murder. There is actually not any observed evidence to support the claim that religion and ideology are the key motivators of malicious extremism. It is a social issue. Firstly we need to understand why people become violent against other citizens. For some, like Shahrukh Jatoi and his chums shot Shahzeb, a mob attacked Ahmadi worship place on 23 May 2018 at Sialkot. During the attack, a mob of around 500 people chanted slogans against Ahmadis as they destroyed the worship place’s structure and neighboring buildings. This heinous attack drew the worldwide attention, and the world is mocking us. Religious freedom is a fundamental human right that is respected and affordable to all. The factors which are the key reason of religious radicalization are anger at injustice, intolerance, sense of identity and moral superiority.

The role of media is the most important to shaping the socio-cultural, religious and political views of people of Pakistan. Ethnic tensions in the country are another cause of radicalization. Punjab, the most populous province of Pakistan, with excessive resources and great influence in government making set up, is seen as overly dominated by other smaller provinces. Balochistan, the largest province of Pakistan faces a number of challenges as its people feel marginalized and isolated. Balochistan has been blessed with natural resources like natural gas fields and no one can deny the economic importance of Gwadar Port on the Arabian Sea. But unfortunately, in Balochistan, there are many places where even Sui gas is not available. It is due to the negligence and incompetence of governments that Baloch people are being deprived of their basic rights.

Karachi, the largest urban city and transport hub of the country, faces growing rifts between different communities on the basis of human security needs. Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, most beautiful province of Pakistan, faces growing insurgency due to its disturbed border along with Afghanistan. Lack of diversity in the federal government has created grievances among different ethnic groups, and state institutions have failed to create any proper mechanisms for dealing with such discontent and frustration. This frustration may become terrorism in its extreme manifestations. Leaders should come forward and deal the people with honesty and provide apposite and equal opportunities to every citizen of Pakistan.

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has completed her M.Phil in Physics recently. She has a keen interest in writing on socio-political issues. She can be reached at [email protected]

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