Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Can Pakistan End Suicide Bombings?

With yet another incident of twin-bombings involving suicidal attackers taking their toll in Lahore today, there are clearly mounting concerns about this scourge. From six suicide bombings in 2006 in Pakistan, the tally went up to 62 in 2007, more than tenfold increase in just one year. According to the South Asia Terrorism Portal, at least 1,523- civilians were killed in terror-related violence in 2007 and more than twice that number injured. The average is now more than one per week – the last week saw three in a row. No one is safe from this scourge. Those praying in mosques, or at funerals have been no safer than others at political rallies or while crossing a street.

Dr. Pervez Hoodbhoy, writing in Pakistan's Dawn newspaper on March 9, 2008, describes in detail how this menacing phenomenon is taking its toll and the factors that are contributing to its alarming increase. In addition to the American drones launching attacks and killing many innocent people in Pakistan, Dr. Hoodbhoy holds Pakistanis culpable for what he describes as "human drones" killing innocent Pakistanis in large numbers. He says: "Why do so many Pakistanis suddenly lose their voice when it comes to condemning suicide bombings? Is it because the bomber kills in the name of Islam? Are people muted in their criticism lest they be regarded as irreligious or even blasphemous?"

I couldn't agree with Dr. Hoodbhoy more. The real question is how do we stop this self-destruction of a nation that has serious consequences for the entire world and force a course reversal? If the great majority of Pakistanis including the apologists for the bombers truly condemn the actions of the few, would it be sufficient? These bombings have spawned a new culture with its roots in the Afghan resistance of the Soviet Union in 1980s backed by US, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia. This culture has developed in two decades in Pakistan's tribal belt and gained strength more recently. There are many culprits, Pakistanis of all stripes are culpable to varying degrees. But so are many others. In my humble view, there are no quick fixes. We (Pakistanis backed by Americans, Saudis, the Europeans etc.) must start by addressing what Dr. Hoodbhoy describes as the "enabling environment of poverty, deprivation, lack of justice, and extreme differences of wealth" making the environment "perfect for demagogues". At the same time, we must continue to act against those who orchestrate these crimes in the name of Islam. If we do one without the other,the chances of success are zero. If we do both, we can entertain the hope of ending it in a decade or two. It's in the best interest of all to begin this effort quickly and earnestly.

Click here for the full text of Dr. Hoodbhoy's piece in Dawn titled "The War of the Drones".


Anonymous said...

Of course, Suicide bombing will come to end, if pakistan army will leave Wazirstan as it was before.

Why attack on army headquaters>
Only to inform Musharraf that, you will kill one in wazirstan, and we will kill many in Pakistan.

Go and tell the president, that you failed to find the right path. Now you are free to leave, before to leave.

Riaz Haq said...

I doubt if suicide bombings would end with Musharraf resigning or the Pak military leaving the tribal areas. In fact, the bombings are more likely to continue to intensify even further, as they have in the last two years. This problem is bigger than any individual or institution in Pakistan. It's part of a worldwide violent jihad that requires the two-pronged approach I suggest in my post. An ambivalent people pointing fingers at others can not end this scourge. The people must acknowledge their own culpability.

Anonymous said...

Absolutely great article as always by Dr. Pervez Hoodbhoy underlining the fundamental problem with these suicide bombings.
Pakistani people should hold the mullahs which are issuing fatwas to poor people telling them to blow up (to get virgins in Jannat) responsible as well for these bombings.
But i'm afraid that part of our nation is rather treating these people as heroes.
These people misusing the name of Islam are the worst creatures in the universe.

God help Pakistan.

Anonymous said...

Yes, Pakistan can end suicide bombings. Just as Israel did. The only thing that makes suicide bombing easy is the fact that no consequences will follow. Apply the Tribal code of collective responsibility for the whole family of the suicide bomber, and it will soon fade away. Politically incorrect, it works. The suicide bombers operate on the same principle of collective responsibility.