I was deeply troubled by the recent suicide bombings of the innocents in the Kohat refugee camps. I was not surprised by the reaction of the Pakistan military and continuous shelling in response. I know I was not alone in this. The entire nation felt the pain of these refugees who were the victims of an extremist mindset. How cruel does one have to be to attack some people who are already homeless and helpless? Does one really have a second thought before killing himself and many others? These are some questions that occupy my mind before. Where are these terrorist organizations taking this war to? They have introduced an indiscriminate nature of attacks in the country. We all saw how two suicide bombers dressed in burqas struck a crowd of displaced people collecting aid handouts, killing at least 41 people. What bothers me more is where does one get all this courage from? Did these terrorist not see the faces of the people collecting aid? What in the world makes these men choose this path and why do they Pakistan so much?
The country is doing all it takes to put a stop to these terrorist activities. Along with the high intensity of military action, many think tanks have once again begun to explore whether a retort utilizing the tools of dialogue and negotiation might produce a better outcome. The prolonged war on terrorism keeps giving continuous hits to the financial standing of the country. Every morning I wake up and realize that the situation seems to keep getting worse. Terrorism must be stopped with whatever tool it takes before it is too late and the economy of the country cripples.
However, my perspective is poles apart from the others. My deep thoughts about terrorism stem from long inquiry into what creates conflict and violence between the Pakistanis. More importantly what keeps the terrorist going? What fuels the courage to the terrorist for going into mosques and shattering into pieces of flesh?
Extremism is a mental disability. To my knowledge the best answer can be given by someone who has spent many years working in the mental health arena. Taliban is more of a mindset than a label. I naturally bring a psychological perspective to these questions. Many are not pleased with the progress of a prolonged global war on terrorism and the casualties caused by it.
What would it take, I keep asking myself, to end terrorism, to put a seize to all this misery faced by Pakistan? I would categorize most of it unnecessary.
If we go back to the basics before exploring options for dealing with terrorism, I think it is important to understand the reason why people become terrorists in the first place. Surely, a man is not a terrorist from the womb of the mother. It must take something for a person to choose this path and the system might have a contribution in this as well. I curse the terrorist but my conscious questions me, why they choose this method as a last resort?
Let us try to analyze this problem in a psychological perspective. When a human is deprived of connection in the society, he feels extraordinarily alone and frightened. Being neglected in the society influences the mental position of the individual. After some time he will go to any lengths, to feel connected back to other humans.
This is true of those who are recruited by the terrorist organizations. My gut feeling is that terrorists are people who feel very powerless inside, who are extremely frustrated at not being seen, heard and honored for their uniqueness.
If you feel so lost and empty from inside the easiest way to feel commanding is to create terror in others. This is the reason why terrorist are making Pakistan suffer as they themselves are suffering. With the spread of Western culture and products in the country, we should understand that these people feel are threatened their way of life will soon disappear.
This is the reason why they discourage education and development in their regions. So many schools have been burnt in the recent years. Many universities have been attacked. Education for women is like a sin in the Taliban regime. A recent example is of the women professor who was shot dead in Quetta. Mrs. Nazima Talib was shot dead while she was travelling from one point to the other. These are extremist elements which prove that they do not want the education to spread. This will surely bring awareness amongst people and will threaten their regime. The recruitment of extremist is relatively less in the developed cities of Pakistan. The reason for this is education of course. The misfits of society who turn into terrorist cannot accept Pakistan as a successful piece of land. Their visions are strictly limited to the ideology they are following.
This is a frightening viewpoint and hence Pakistan is on the top of their target list. Being a terrorist also gives one importance and an identity, one which is very difficult to let go. If peace prevailed, who would you be? What aim would you have in life? Thus it is better to keep fighting and following what your corrupt religious leaders have to say.
So how is it possible that we come around and try to solve this problem? Once we know the root cause it is important that we work hard on removing these elements from our society for once and for all. To really improve the current situation in Pakistan it might make more sense for the higher officials to pursue a bilateral strategy. This would find the perpetrators and put them on trial while at the same time engaging in extensive dialogue with their community.
On the other hand a positive approach is that no damage will be done if thousands of ordinary American citizens came to Muslim countries and took part in structured dialogues with Islamic citizens, asking them “What is this extremism all about?”. The response would be interesting to study as a piece and helpful in extensive communication to guide the misled.
If a handful of these misfits have chosen this path due to harassment and injustices, we ought to clarify them. As we do this a room might open in which we might be able to share our grief at the losses from over five hundred blasts last year.
The citizens of Pakistan have witnessed this ongoing war on terrorism for almost more than five years now. This year has been not much better despite the great efforts from the security forces. Dialog with the terrorist in most cases in the past have been resulted as a failure. However, this does not mean that in future things will remain the same. Extensive dialog to some extent and minimizing the communication gap is the solution to restore peace.
To sum up, I am sure the misfits of the society can be won back. People are so scared of being abused or violated again in the resolution process that they hesitate from it. This is due to the doubtful past Pakistan has had with the terrorist organizations in negotiations. Our resistance to opening ourselves has greatly increased over the recent years which at times work against us. Yet we must realize that if we want to heal and put an end to this conflict, we must take these measures in time. People as well as societies need to reach a bottom level and on the same wavelength of others before they go ahead with trying different ways to win back peace.