Wednesday, October 13, 2004

Pakistan: Analysis - A Victim of its own culture

['Sectarian violence is the result of years of brainwashing of thousands and thousands of young minds educated in madrassas,' said the director of the independent Human Rights Commission, I.A. Rehman.'Both the victims of terrorism and the terrorists are treated as 'martyrs', he said, using the Muslim terminology, which glorifies fighters or soldiers who die in action.From the bazaars of port megalopolis Karachi, where violence in all forms is endemic, to northwest frontier city Peshawar and southwest city Quetta, videos and audios are sold carrying the messages of 'shahid' or martyrs and glorifying 'jihad' or holy war.]

Pakistan a victim of its own culture of militancy: analysts


KARACHI - With nearly 80 deaths in 10 days from violence between Sunni and Shiite Muslims, Pakistan is once again caught in a spiral of bloodshed borne of its own culture of Islamic militancy, analysts say.

'When terrorism becomes a culture in society, it's alarming and it's always more difficult to get rid of it,' Professor Fateh Mohammad, head of criminology at Karachi University, told AFP.

'Both the victims of terrorism and the terrorists are treated as 'martyrs', he said, using the Muslim terminology, which glorifies fighters or soldiers who die in action.

From the bazaars of port megalopolis Karachi, where violence in all forms is endemic, to northwest frontier city Peshawar and southwest city Quetta, videos and audios are sold carrying the messages of 'shahid' or martyrs and glorifying 'jihad' or holy war.

'One can see all around the shops movies and videos which not only promote jihadi culture,' but are a source of inspiration for potential youth, including women,' said Gul Rehman, owner of a shop at Rainbow Centre, the hub of audio and videos in Karachi.

Often children buy Osama bin Laden T-shirts, or collect pictures of him, while parents name their children after him, he added.

The finger is often pointed at Pakistan's 12,000 madrassas or Koranic schools.

Even if the majority offers a free basic education to the poor, in the absence of a cheap and efficient state education system, many are denounced as 'schools of terrorism.'

'Sectarian violence is the result of years of brainwashing of thousands and thousands of young minds educated in madrassas,' said the director of the independent Human Rights Commission, I.A. Rehman.

'Violence is the only job they are taught to do correctly,' he added.

'Madrassas are the principal source of religious intolerance and militant violence,' Ghulam Kabria, author and human rights activist, told AFP.

The former head of Karachi's Police Citizens Liaison Committee, Jamil Yusuf, said all 'detainees who are condemned to death should be executed before they emerge from prison as heroes,' as has been the case with numerous militants in recent years.

Even at the highest level, condemnations of militant attacks are timid, said a Western diplomat on condition of anonymity.

'Why has (President Pervez) Musharraf not appeared on television to denounce the murder of Muslims by Muslims' he asked.

Since October 1, 77 people have been killed in Pakistan in four separate sectarian violence.

A suicide bomber in a mosque in eastern city Sialkot killed thirty Shiites on October 1, and a week later 41 followers of an outlawed Sunni organisation were killed in a car-bomb attack in central city Multan.

On Sunday, a suicide bomber was intercepted at the entrance to a Shiite mosque in eastern city Lahore, but he detonated the explosives he was wearing, killing two guards, a child and himself.

On Saturday in Karachi, two Sunni clerics from the Binori Town madrassa, one of the most important in the southern port city, were shot dead by unknown gunmen.

Since the beginning of the year, at least 171 people have been killed during sectarian violence between fanatics of the Sunni majority, who account for around 80 percent of Pakistan?s Muslims, and Shiites.

The bloody rivalry has claimed 4,000 lives since the 1980s.

AFP 12/10/2004