Towards radicalization

Theories of fragmentation and the details thereof

WORDS WITHIN BY FIRDOUS SYED

Some influential voices believe that government is deliberately pursuing a policy to “fragment” Kashmir’s society; “resources and money are being spent on creating a divide in the name of Barelvis, Deobandis and Wahabis”.  This is alarming in case it connotes even an iota of what is being claimed. In the absence of any sound political approach that could usher an era of sustainable peace, the rulers in their misplaced wisdom may have found it expedient to exacerbate the sectarian divisions. However what could easily be described as a short sighted measure ultimately entails immensely destructive consequences. 
One hopes that the rulers remember the disastrous experience of supporting late Sant Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale; “in order to create a rift in the Akali Dal, a new faction called Dal Khalsa led by Bhindranwale was started”. The political instability caused by artificial fissures eventually leads to more radicalisation of the struggle. This hard reality, though rulers enticed by the immediate benefits may not able discern, has come to fore wherever a fragmentation was engineered to weaken a political struggle.                 
It is of no use to reiterate the facts here that American patronage of Afghan Jihad and its hegemonic approach is the reason behind the emergence of many reactionary pro-violence and extremist organisations.  Incapacitated by the arrogant and power driven mindset to learn from the  mistakes the West particularly America after 9/11 has come to believe that the greater adherence to the fundamentals of Islam--- described as so called fundamentalism by hysterically fearful and confused but mainstream Western thought -- promotes violence.  In order to create a buffer against the rising tide of violent attitudes, the Western powers have tried to fashion a new religion; erroneously described as ‘Sufi Islam’.  This space is inadequate and this is not the occasion either, to fully discuss the contours of the so called ‘moderate Islam’ project conceived by the West. However for the benefit of Indian strategic thinkers--- often tempted by the Western discourse of one-size-fit-all kind of solutions--- two incidents may help them to appreciate the superficial understanding of the West about the nature of problems confronting the Muslim societies.  
 A leaked diplomatic cable on Wikileaks pertaining to the funding of religious groups created quite a flutter in Pakistan.  According to the US Embassy in Pakistan, the Sunni Ittehad Council----“formed in 2009 to counter extremism. It groups politicians and clerics from Pakistan’s traditionalist Barelvi Muslim movement”--- received $36,607 from Washington in 2009 to organise anti Taliban rallies.  However America was immensely embarrassed and in disgust had to distance itself from the group when “the the council led demonstrations in support of the killer of Salman Taseer” the former governor of Pakistani Punjab killed by his bodyguard for “his criticism of anti-blasphemy laws”.  Battered badly by Taliban some of these so called moderate groups have resorted to violence in their self defence, thus exposing the myth of their moderatism. Lately some of these groups have left behind even the Taliban influenced parties in fanning the anti America sentiment in Pakistan.
The ever-ready to be hired and believing in “rent an ideology” type of crowd change their outlook suiting the demands of every season.  A highly famous cleric, (let me not name him) who now suffixes Shaykh-ul-Isalm against his name, the author of the book “Fatwa on Terrorism and Suicide Bombings” was recently on a high profile whirlwind visit of India. Incidentally while surfing the TV channels I got to hear the silken words of the known to be master of polemics. The skilled fire brand orator in India was emphasising the significance of co-existence. Nothing bad rather a laudatory effort, in case Ulema genuinely, not out of convenience preach and promote interfaith harmony.  Yet I was reminded about my meeting with the learned scholar in Lahore at his headquarter sometime in 1994. Then Jihad was immensely popular and different religious groups were caught in a blind race to get associated with armed struggle in one way or other.   We too were seeking organised support of a local group in Pakistan and yet to be declared Shaykh-ul-Isalm’s organisation was badly in need of an association with any Kashmiri group to bolster its credibility. Driven by the mutual interests we entered into a public alliance, a long story that can only be covered in a book, a column is too short for lengthy details. Now Jihad is out of fashion so the Shaykh-ul-Isalm is busy promoting peace, good luck to him.      
 One hopes that the authorities are aware of the pitfalls of creating fragmentation and promoting religious ideologies to counter genuine political causes. The security apparatus may also be cognizant of the fact that militancy in Kashmir was not inspired by any religious ideology. The religious fragmentation to weaken political struggle in the end will only lead to more radicalisation.  

(Feedback at firdoussyed@yahoo.com)

Lastupdate on : Fri, 11 May 2012 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Fri, 11 May 2012 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Sat, 12 May 2012 00:00:00 IST




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