Extremism and Terrorism in the Contemporary World May 30, 2017

.. by Mir Wazir Khan

Our heartfelt condolences to those who suffered in the gruesome suicide bombing in the city of Manchester in the United Kingdom!

For the last more than a decade extremism and terrorism has become an issue of global concern. Terrorist acts in the heart of France and in the United Kingdom that claimed dozens of lives, showed that the acts of terrorism by desperate elements are not acts of isolated nature but there seems to be reasons that are working as breeding grounds in the spread of extremism and terrorism across the world.

Every human being with the smallest commonsense and sympathy will be aghast at the suicide bombing that kill and injure innocent people anywhere in the world. The preciousness and dignity of life of a human being is sacred and inviolable across caste, colour, political and religious divides. No religion will condone mass human killings. Islam, being the most complete, comprehensive, compassionate, universal and cosmopolitan religion has always upheld human rights, dignities and values throughout the centuries.

However, for the last about fifty years, the mindset of Muslim youth across the Muslim world has been radicalized and militarized. There are many reasons behind this phenomenon. Some of the most burning issues that radicalize the minds and hearts of people in general and of the Muslim youth in particular are a variety of oppressions, suppressions and deprivation spread across the Muslim world.

The Muslim-majority countries, with the exception of, perhaps, Malaysia, have been ruled by despotic and autocratic rulers. Mostly, the rulers have been or are military dictators’ kings, monarchs or authoritarian and majoritarian democrats. Corruption and misuse of power is rampant and the rulers combine both political, administrative, military and economic powers in their hands. The rulers and a small coterie of their lieutenants, adherents and supporters enjoy unprecedented privileges at the cost of the vast majority of their citizens. The vast majority of population, under these rulers, do not have genuine economic and political rights and feel dispossessed and disenfranchised. All this happens under the very eyes of those advanced nations of the world who are never tired of championing human rights, equity and equality. The advanced nations have always supported and still supporting the most authoritarian and despotic rulers just to achieve their own military and economic interests. The autocratic rulers in Muslim-majority countries are facilitating the advanced nations in the achievement of their global agenda of economic, political and military domination.

Another issue that radicalizes the youth in the Muslim world is the unresolved political and territorial disputes surrounding the issue of Palestine and Kashmir. It has been more than 70- years that both issues are lingering on and still need solutions. Such unresolved issues tend to motivate people to think that it is only the use of force that can help them in achieving their rights including right of self-determination and independent state-hood.

Yet another most important factor that has catapulted militancy and terrorism to new heights is foreign military interventions in several Muslim countries and ignition of civil wars in others. The invasion of Afghanistan in 2001 has created a new wave of extremism in the Afghanistan-Pakistan region. Iraq and Syria have been cradles of human civilizations and birth places of prophets, saints and sages. Baghdad and Damascus remained the leading metropolises of Muslim civilization under Abbasid and Umayyad for many centuries. Iraq was almost destroyed through indiscriminate use of military power and promotion of sectarian divides. Syria is in the process of decimation because of organized civil war in that country helped and promoted by advanced nations and their regional allies. Libya, another Muslim-majority Arab country, was plunged into civil war because of military intervention from outside. Military intervention in all these countries were supported by developed nations. Myriad militant groups were supported with money and materials to oust regimes that were moderate but not docile and submissive to Western powers. There is no doubt that Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and Syria were not ideal and inclusive democratic countries as per the Western standards of Westminster brand democracy. It is also a fact that the practice of democracy cannot be the same everywhere like a scientific formulae. The countries that suffered foreign interventions were not ideal democracies but there are more despotic and autocratic regimes in the same region who are enjoying every support from advanced nations of the world.

Another major factor in the promotion of extremism and terrorism is the unsatisfactory performance of United Nations Organization (UNO) and its different specialized agencies. On the one hand, the UNO has not been able to resolve longstanding issues such as issues of Kashmir and Palestine. It also failed to stop one-sided military interventions in countries such as Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and Syria by taking appropriate steps for resolution of these disputes. There is a famous maxim about the functioning of UNO. That is if there is a dispute between two major powers then the UNO disappears; if the dispute is between a big and a small country then the small country disappears and if the dispute is between two small countries then the dispute itself disappears (because if two small or insignificant countries are suffering because of dispute then that shouldn’t be a headache for UNO and major world powers).   The role of specialized agencies of the UNO, International Non-Governmental Organizations (INGOs), national NGOs, and developmental organs of different countries such as USAID, CIDA, DFID and JICA have also not been successful in bringing equitable and sustainable development in the most underdeveloped regions of the world. Over trillion dollars have reportedly been given to Afghanistan for reconstruction programs. However, the pace of development and security in that country is not in proportion to such a huge funding. The reason being that the funds went into the pockets of contractors, consultants, NGO professionals, corrupt bureaucrats and inefficient politicians.  There have been more than a dozen international conferences on bringing economic and political stability to Afghanistan. These conferences were held in the advanced and posh capital cities of the Western world and Japan where head of states, heads of governments and different international figures were in attendance. However, the situation for Afghans on the ground is more or less the same. Corruption over there is rampant, institutions are malfunctioning and security is precarious.

Renowned Afghan political analyst and historian, Helena Malik Yar’s column in www.aljazeera.com dated December 3, 2014 about the use of foreign aid to Afghanistan speaks volumes about corruption in that country. The findings of John Sopko, the United States special inspector-general for Afghan reconstruction appearing in www.aljazeera.com dated June 18, 2015 is also an eye opener for world leadership. John Sopko has audited the United States’ multi- billion dollar aid channeled to Afghanistan under the supervision of United States Agency for international Development (USAID) and has unearthed huge misuse of funds. The title of the report is “US Tax Payers May be Funding the Bill for Schools with no Students in Afghanistan”. Corruption, incompetent and unaccountable public sector administrations, misuse of foreign aid and inefficient performance of NGOs and INGOs are a phenomenon across the under developing world which create circumstances where poverty and ignorance grows speedily.

The reality is that there are multiple forms of extremism prevalent in the world. Some countries are of the world are engaged in economic, political, military and environment-related extremism. While religiously-and- ethnically motivated societies in underdeveloped countries are involved in religious, sectarian and ethnic extremism. Until and unless there is no equitable economic development in the world and until the developing nations of the world suffer from scientific, technological and economic inequalities there cannot be security and peace in the world. How populace in a small section of the globe can enjoy perfect peace and prosperity when vast majority of the people of the globe suffer from hunger, poverty, ignorance, indignities, oppression and suppression! .. Mir Wazir Khan 
Awi-Chitral, 30 May 2017.

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