The Time to Act is Now
Benazir Bhutto challenged the extremists and terrorists among us and paid for it with her life. The question is: Is there anyone else among the Pakistani politicians who can stand up to them and make the fight against extremist elements as a top priority?
True, Benazir acted a little imprudently by endorsing the military action against the Ghazi brothers of Lal Masjid in July this year. But, in principle, her stand on the rising tide of extremist violence was courageous, whatever the motives.
We may differ on the genesis of terrorism and political violence that has gripped the nation in recent years. We may also have different views on how to deal with this menace. But the time is now for all political parties, and especially for religious political parties and the ulama, to come out publicly, and forcefully, to condemn this senseless violence and send a clear message to the militants that the nation is united against them.
Terrorists and militants have thrived on a tacit understanding that they enjoy a degree of support among the people for their violent actions both as a result of the prevalent anti-Americanism and anti-Musharraf sentiments.
The time has come to tell them that the popular resentment against the US-led global war on terrorism and the policies of the present government will not gain any sympathy for their gruesome murders, suicide attacks on security forces and innocent civilians, and intimidation of people in the name of Shariah.
Those of us who do not endorse the current strategy pursued by the
When the bomb blasts by some religious fanatics ripped
The time is now for the religious parties and the ulama of
The Islamic political parties and the ulama failed to take the lead to resolve the Lal Masjid crisis which subsequently led to a bloody showdown with numerous innocent lives lost. They watched the looming crisis sitting on the sidelines until the lines were drawn and it was too late to be effective. Some among them left for
But it is still not too late for them – and for other civil society groups – to prevent further bloodshed and anarchy in the country. Only they can delegitimize the socio-cultural and ideological infrastructure that the radical Islamic groups have been able to put together in recent years in the name of jihad and Islam.
The time is now to challenge the religio-ideological claims of extremists. The complacency of the mainstream Islamic groups for political expediency or any other reason will most likely lay the ideological foundations of a new generation of radicalized Muslims youth, threatening the already fragile edifice of the moderate center. Once the extremists have a monopoly on Islamic discourse, the mainstream Islamic groups are the ones that will become the obvious target of their righteous rage.
The time to act is now!
* Dr. Mumtaz Ahmad is a Professor of Political Science at