Terror Claims 8496 Deaths Annually

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(From Viewpoint Online).

A total of 2,113 militant, insurgent and sectarian related terrorist attacks last year killing 2,913 and injuring 5,829 people .Taliban, have been terrorizing Shia, Christian, Ahmadi, Hindu and Christian minorities in Pakistan. Iran in retaliation is supporting Shias.

President Carter’s National Security Advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski admitted in an interview to a French magazine in 1998 that the United States started supporting Mujahedeen in Afghanistan prior to the Soviet invasion of the country. Responding to a question on the issue he specifically said:

Yes, According to the official version of history, CIA aid to the Mujahedeen began during 1980, that is to say, after Soviet army invaded Afghanistan, 24 December 1979. But the reality, secretly guarded until now, is completely otherwise. Indeed, it was July 3, 1979 that President Carter signed the first directive for secret aid to opponents of the pro-Soviet regime in Kabul. And that very day I wrote to the president in which I explained to him that in my opinion this aid was going to induce a Soviet military intervention. (Le Nouvel Observateur, Paris, 15-21 January, 1998).

Later in the interview when the journalist asked him if he thinks it was the U.S. support to the Afghan extremists that intensified fundamentalism in Afghanistan, his blatant response was:

What is most important to the history of the world, the Taliban or the collapse of the Soviet empire?

There are several explanations of how and why fundamentalism in Afghanistan and Pakistan flourished during the last three decades. Besides geopolitical issues, demographic changes, economic disparities, poverty and low literacy, foreign intervention in the internal affairs of Afghanistan is one of the most significant reasons behind the rise of militancy and extremism in the region today.

History proves, at least in the case of Afghanistan and Pakistan, that international intrusion, by regional powers and superpowers both, led to a heightened level of fundamentalism in the region. During the last quarter-century or so, Afghanistan has been occupied by the Soviet Union first and then the United States with a devastating effect on the societies in Afghanistan and Pakistan giving rise to an extremely dangerous level of fundamentalism and terrorism in these countries.

The first aftereffect of the American invasion of Afghanistan in 2001 was the unexpected popularity of religious parties in Pakistan who were in the fore front of opposing the invasion. These parties, who never received enough seats in national and provincial assemblies, all of a sudden ascended to the status of the third largest political group in the National Assembly of Pakistan in the 2002 general election. The alliance of religious parties, Muttahada Mujlis-e Amal (MMA) secured 51 seats in the national assembly and more surprisingly an astonishing majority in the two provinces bordering Afghanistan, Khyber Pakhtoonkhwa (known as NWFP then) and Balochistan. Consequently, the religious alliance formed governments in these two provinces and became an astounding political force in the center.

An unusually high intensity of violence by the extremist groups is another sign of unprecedented surge in fundamentalism. The Pakistan Institute for Peace Studies (PIP) that publishes the most authentic data on violent attacks released its Security Report for 2010 last week. PIP reports a total of 2,113 militant, insurgent and sectarian related terrorist attacks last year killing 2,913 and injuring 5,829 people. Although the data indicate an 11 percent decline in these incidents from 2009 to 2010, the incidents have been consistently increasing since 2007. Here are the comparative data for each year:

According to these data, on average 2,822 violent attacks are carried out involving an average of 8,496 deaths every year in Pakistan. This high number of attacks and civilian casualties was never experienced in the country before the 2001 invasion of Afghanistan.

Terrorist attacks are also increasing at an alarming rate in Afghanistan. The U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon in a report said the number of violent attacks broke an all time record in Afghanistan in 2010 with a 94 percent increase from 2009 in the incidents related to explosive devices. The continued state of war has been accelerating each year with 3 suicide attacks and 7 assassinations of civilians every week. The shift to more complex suicide attacks demonstrates a growing capability of the local terrorist networks lined to al Qaida, the report said (Khaleej Times, June 20, 2010). According to the more conservative data of the Afghan government, the total civilian casualties rose to 1,292 while the war entered into its 10th year in Afghanistan.

The ever-growing fundamentalism can also be seen in the rising intolerance toward minorities, violence against women, and spread of religious ideologies through madrassas and political parties, sponsored by regional powers. The Saudi-Iran conflict has also been transformed into the religious and political infighting and violence in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Deobandi and Wahabi elements, sided with Al-Qaeda and the Taliban, have been terrorizing Shia, Christian, Ahmadi, Hindu and Christian minorities in Pakistan. Iran in retaliation is supporting Shias and other groups. The conflict has cost a substantial number of civilian casualties on both sides, mostly in minority communities.

The ever-growing fundamentalism can also be seen in the rising intolerance toward minorities, violence against women, and spread of religious ideologies through madrassas and political parties, sponsored by regional powers. The Saudi-Iran conflict has also been transformed into the religious and political infighting and violence in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Deobandi and Wahabi elements, sided with Al-Qaeda and the Taliban, have been terrorizing Shia, Christian, Ahmadi, Hindu and Christian minorities in Pakistan. Iran in retaliation is supporting Shias and other groups. The conflict has cost a substantial number of civilian casualties on both sides, mostly in minority communities.

Imtiaz Gul counted a large number of conservative institutions, fundamentalist political parties and extremist groups active in Pakistan in his book “The Unholy Nexus” published in 2002. The major groups and parties he cited include Jaamiat-e Ulema-e Islam Fazal-ur-Rehman and Samiul Haq factions, the two Deobandi groups who have established madrassas involved in training hundreds of young Muslims with conservative-religious indoctrinations. Other prominent groups include Sipah-e Sahaba Pakistan (SSP), Harkatul Mujahideen (Harkatul Ansar), Jaish-e Mohammad, Binori Mosque, Jamaat-e Islami, Ahl-e Hadith, Tehrik-e Nifaz-e Shariat-e Mohammadi, and Al-Rashid Trust.

Many of these religious groups run about 20,000 madrassas, or religious institutions, where 2-3 million young students study religion with a narrow minded worldview. Although several of these institutions provide moderate religious education, a substantial majority promotes intolerance, rigid religious ideologies and hatred toward rest of the religious groups and communities.

According to official sources over 19,000 of these madrassas are now registered with the Government of Pakistan. After intense resistance by these institutions and their representative organization, Ittehad-e Tanzim-ul-Madaaras, the Madrassa Reform Project launched by the federal government, has examined the curriculum and teaching methodologies of 507 institutions during the last four years (Akhtar Hameed Khan Resource Center, Public Forum, December 30, 2010). With this slow pace, it will take a long time to analyze pedagogical strategies of these institutions before entering the final phase of refining and improving their syllabi.

Finally, after ten years of a monumental military campaign that cost billions of dollars to American taxpayers, signs are the U.S. led coalition forces are getting ready to pack up and leave Afghanistan within the next three to five years. However, the most outstanding legacies they will be leaving in the region might include an unprecedented level of fundamentalism, an unparalleled militancy and an intensified wave of violence that has devastated the very fabric of the society in the region.

Hopefully, their departure will not add another chapter of civil war and atrocities as the coalition has demonstrated a commitment to continue development efforts in the region. After a long night of violence and suffering let’s give the people of this region a chance to regain their human dignity through education, basic facilities and elimination of poverty.

For Brzezinski, the strategy of supporting militants in Afghanistan might have worked in the short term but in the longer term of events it created snags of unimaginable magnitude for America itself. In the broader context of history, although America was successful in breaking up the Soviet empire, in the process it has transformed fundamentalism into the most extremist, treacherous and ruthless monster that came back to haunt not only the U.S. but the whole world, most importantly, Afghanistan and Pakistan.