Monday, 16 March 2015

Growing extremism and terrorism and its impact on Pakistan and Jammu and Kashmir, speech of Dr Shabir Choudhry in a conference arranged by Jammu Kashmir International People’s Alliance on 13 March 2015 in Geneva

Growing extremism and terrorism and its impact on Pakistan and Jammu and Kashmir, speech of Dr Shabir Choudhry in a conference arranged by Jammu
Kashmir International People’s Alliance on 13 March 2015 in Geneva

Title of the Conference is: Growing extremism and terrorism and its impact on Pakistan and Jammu and Kashmir.
Mr Chairman, friends and colleagues aslamo alaikam and very good evening.

Despite war on terrorism and extensive counter terrorism measures; and death of tens of thousands of innocent people and destruction of property of billions of dollars, terrorism still continues to pose a major threat to international peace and security. Furthermore, terrorism openly and consistently undermines the core values of all major religions, cultures, and liberal and democratic societies.

The United Nations Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy was adopted by Member States on 8 September 2006; and it strongly condemns ‘terrorism in all its forms and manifestations, committed by whomever, wherever and for whatever purposes, as it constitutes one of the most serious threats to international peace and security’.

However, The Counter Terrorism Strategy Reaffirms ‘that terrorism cannot and should not be associated with any religion, nationality, civilization or ethnic group’.

Clearly that means Terrorism has no religion; and culprits can fool people in name of religion but in actual fact they are not promoting the cause of any religion. Their plan is to inflict fear, terrorise people in to subjugation and advance their own political and economic agenda.

Terrorism is planned to attack and undermine human rights and fundamental freedoms of citizens available in all democratic societies. Furthermore, terrorism threatens security and territorial integrity of states; that in turn force governments to adopt counter terrorism measures which also infringe civil liberties.

The United Nations encourage governments to strongly condemn terrorism in all its forms and manifestations, and urge governments to take urgent and appropriate measures to combat  and eradicate terrorism which endangers peace and security of the world.

However, some governments despite being members of the UN are openly and consistently violating noble ideals of the UN and human rights; and sad thing is they get away with it as well. They promote violence, extremism, religious intolerance; and they export terrorism to other countries.

Mr Chairman
It is unfortunate that a country which was created in name of Islam, and now known as Islamic Republic of Pakistan is also responsible for promoting extremism and terrorism through the terror infrastructure they have created. The terror groups they have created had no plan to advance cause of human rights or to serve humanity or to promote any religion. Their aim was to use weapons and threat of violence to subjugate people. They promote sectarian values, promote religious intolerance and hatred. They deliberately target minorities, kill innocent people and burn down their places of worship.

All this is clearly against the teaching of Islam. Sad thing is despite these crimes some people call Pakistan a fort of Islam; reality however, is that some Muslims are systematically killed there. If even Muslims are not safe, then one can visualise what could be plight of non - Muslims in this country.

In view of many experts on terrorism Pakistan is a hub of extremism and terrorism. Secret agencies promote extremism and terrorism to divide people and spread hatred; and use their proxies to commit acts of terrorism in various parts of Pakistan and in neighbouring countries.

Islam does not justify killing of other human beings and destroying of their places of worship. Overwhelming majority of Muslims around the world express their support for democracy, equality for all and religious tolerance. However, a tiny minority with misplaced loyalty and tunnel vision is determined to impose its will by use of force and by derailing democracy, and by targeting those who promote tolerance, equality and fairness.

True, these fanatics target religious minorities as well, but if we look at facts they have killed many more Muslims than non-Muslims. A report published by Combating Terrorism Center at West Point in 2009 asserted that between 2004-2008, 88% victims of Al- Qaida were Muslims; and 12% were Westerners.
(Source: CNN article).

Mr Chairman
Constitution of Pakistan explicitly guarantees to protect the rights of non-Muslim citizens; and Article 20 reads ‘Every citizen shall have the right to profess, practise and propagate his religion’.
And section B states, ‘Every religious denomination and every sect thereof shall have the right to establish, maintain and manage its religious institutions’.

Now let us look at what reputable international human rights organisations say about situation in Pakistan. Amnesty International, in its recent annual report for year 2014/15 strongly criticised Pakistan and I quote:

‘Religious minorities continued to face laws and practices that resulted in their discrimination and persecution. Abuses connected with the blasphemy laws occurred regularly during the year as demonstrated in several high profile cases’. Unquote

Human Rights Watch, another international human rights organisation in its World Report of 2015, narrated the plight of minorities, and I quote: ‘Pakistan’s government did little to stop the rising toll of killings and repression by extremist groups that target religious minorities”…the government is failing at the most basic duty of government — to protect the safety of its citizens and enforce rule of law. Institutionalised discrimination fostered violent attacks on religious minorities’. Unquote.

Even the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan strongly criticised Pakistan on its human rights record. In its annual report, HRCP asserts, and I quote:

‘Pakistan’s record in protecting members of its religious and sectarian minorities from faith-based violence and discrimination has been far from impressive in recent years. In fact, the year under review saw continuation of the recent trend of violence and impunity that seemed to reinforce each other. The growing problems for the minorities came from extremist militant groups seeking to justify violence and brutalities in the name of religion. Secondly, the challenges came from the local factors; and finally, from the government’s failure to protect members of minority religions and sects from faith-based violence or to confront hate speech, intimidation or intolerance. This year also nothing was done to weed out discrimination against non-Muslim citizens written into law or to introduce safeguards widely acknowledged to be needed in order to prevent abuse of the blasphemy law’. Unquote

Mr Chairman
Reports of these reputable human rights organisations clearly endorse the view that some ethnic groups in Pakistan, which include Muslims as well, are not safe. Terrorist groups under the patronage of officials systematically harass, intimidate and kill members of ethnic minorities; and the state which has a responsibility to protect all of its citizens is not discharging its responsibilities to protect people and to make culprits accountable.
Extremism and religious intolerance have deep roots in Pakistan; and it look extremism and terrorism have become an industry in Pakistan. Leaders of terrorist groups are treated with respect and honour; and no one dares to question their authority.

A report published in calls Dar Ul Uloom Haqqania – meaning House of Knowledge and Truthfulness, ‘ivory tower of terrorism, a jihadist factory’. This is also known as “University of Jihad”, and Hafiz Muhammad Saeed is a ‘Principal’, and he is also known as a God father of Lashker e Taiba, a notorious terrorist group. No one in Pakistan dares to challenge his authority. This institution has produced prominent militants and jihadi warriors, and among its graduates include likes of Taliban leader Mullah Muhammad Omar and Jalaluddin Haqqani, founder of the dreaded Haqqani Network. 1

The campus of this ‘Jihadi factory’ is size of four football fields, and has many buildings under their use where more than 3500 students live and study. Over the years they have provided thousands of militants to fight a proxy war for Pakistan. They have also produced thousands of clerics who spread hatred and religious intolerance; and radicalise the society.2

Growing extremism and terrorism means more problems for Pakistan and Jammu and Kashmir. It means more innocent people will lose their lives. There will be more instability in Pakistan and in the region. Terrorist groups will become stronger and will dominate all aspects of life in Pakistan and Jammu and Kashmir. It also means life of religious minorities will become a living hell as they will be targeted and killed.

In name of Jihad in Kashmir and elsewhere, these terror groups will commit acts of violence which will seriously result in abuse of human rights and perpetuate our suffering and miseries.

A Pakistani cleric Maulana Akram Awan has a large following in Pakistan; and many of his followers are part of the ruling elite in Pakistan. At one time he was also committed to Jihad in Kashmir; and for this purpose he formulated Al-Akhwan Jihad Force and collaborated with Lashkar E Tayaba. Later on in life he had a change of mind and he expressed his views in international journal, ‘News Pakistan’, New York in August 2000, and I quote:

‘No Jihadi outfit has the capacity to snatch Kashmir from India. Operations by these outfits like killing four, eight or ten Indian soldiers from time to time only have repercussions of further atrocities on the people of Kashmir by Indian forces. Their houses are looted and their women are raped. Who is responsible for this situation? And there is another aspect of the problem: what are we going to do with Kashmir if we manage to free from India? Any of these Jihadi outfits might establish a separate state of Kashmir. Where there is social justice in Pakistan so that Kashmiris would like to have an accession with us.’ 3

Mr Chairman
This is a candid admission that militants of Pakistan and secret agencies of Pakistan through their proxies create situation where Indian forces react and commit human rights abuses. There is no evidence that the Indian army or Para - military forces entered houses of people in Kashmir before the proxy war started in 1988/9. What this means is that this proxy war has not helped people of Jammu and Kashmir; and if anything they have added to our miseries and suffering. Therefore, this proxy war, violence, religious hatred and militancy must stop, as it is very seriously hurting innocent people of Jammu and Kashmir.

Mr Chairman, I thank you.
1.         At Pakistan’s Taliban University Jihadists major in Anti – Americanism By Sib Kaifee Published February 08, 2014
2.         Ibid
3.         Interview Maulana Mohammad Akram Awan, Daily Pakistan, Lahore Magazine, 10 August 2000. Also see Punjabi Taliban, by Mujahid Hussain, page 90

Dr Shabir Choudhry

 Prophet Mohammed (PBUH) said: "Say what is true, although it may be bitter and displeasing to people."

It is difficult to liberate fools who respect their chains, Voltaire

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