Chains not needed

By Zubeida Mustafa

A RECENT report about 50 young boys being kept shackled in a madressah has triggered a lot of wild speculation. The police said the place was being used as a detoxification centre for addicts. But a common belief is that the boys were being trained as suicide bombers.

This is outlandish. One must strongly condemn any unauthorised person who wrongfully confines another, whatever be the ground. But it is also unbelievable that a suicide bomber can be created against his own will. A person may be duped into this heinous crime but he can’t be coerced. That is why young boys, at an age when they are gullible, can be won over so easily by false promises and emotional blackmail.

The reaction to this news shows how little is known about terrorism and its roots. In its World Development Report 2011, the World Bank lists the security, economic and political stresses that heighten the risks of conflict and violence in a country. The internal factors are the existing legacies of violence, low income levels, youth unemployment, natural resource wealth, severe corruption, rapid urbanisation, ethnic or religious competition, discrimination, and human rights abuses.

These factors actually pave the ground for the growth of two kinds of violence. One is the expression of discontent that is not focussed on the achievement of specific, well-articulated goals. Joseph Stiglitz, the Nobel Prize-winning economist, defines it as “social protest” against a “system” that is perceived to have failed and which cannot be corrected by the electoral process and needs pressure from the street.

The second kind of violence is one that is planned with the idea of bringing about a radical transformation of the system to give political power to those referred to as terrorists. The leaders of this kind of violence are not affected directly by poverty, the lack of education or discrimination. They exploit these conditions to recruit the foot soldiers that are indispensable to them in their scheme of using violence to seize power.

Researchers who have probed into this phenomenon have found that the existence of the conditions listed above create the mindset in the youth that makes them likely recruits for the leaders of terror. They are the ones who are trained as suicide bombers.

It is actually political ambition and not religion that drives the top leadership of all militant organisations — national or international — as much as it does our political and military leaders. But as is quite common in Pakistan, religion is used by all aspiring for a political goal. The founder of the nation used it to win popular support for the goal of creating a homeland for the Muslims in the subcontinent. The army has used it by giving its military campaigns the garb of an Islamic mission and using slogans such as “Allah-o-Akbar”.

If the Taliban are now using religion to achieve their goal of winning power, they are not doing something new. Others have done it before. It is the extremist, violent and brutal nature of their strategies that distinguishes them from the others, although some political parties in mainstream politics also resort to violence.

Hence the phenomenon of extremism should be studied at two levels, with both being indispensable to each other. One is the leadership level and the other is the rank and file level without which the leaders cannot function.

The spread of obscurantist views along with the factors listed at the beginning of this column help the extremist groups acquire muscle power. Textbooks are commonly blamed for the spread of extremist views in our mainstream school system. There is no denying the fact that a number of books encourage exclusivity and hatred and do not promote tolerance.
But given our poor education system, it appears that more than the books, the pulpit in the mosques and the TV channels should be held responsible for creating the mindset in the youth that provides extremist leaders with their followers.

Besides, the techniques the extremists use to enlist the youth for their cause should tell us what is otherwise missing from the life of many young people. More than the physical hardship that poverty brings, there is the absence of recognition, an acute sense of injustice and the lack of self-esteem that characterises the psyche of all who have resorted to terror. It is the motivation and mobilisation factor that really counts. In our country’s conditions, the young are most vulnerable to the attractive promises held out to them of Paradise and the dignity and esteem they will find there.

How many of our schoolteachers interact with their students and give them a sense of self-esteem, providing them goals in life that they can look forward to? As for those who do not attend school, the vacuum is greater.

With few teachers who are viewed as heroes that inspire the young, it is unsurprising that conditions are such that they create a breeding ground for suicide bombers.

In the film Terror in Mumbai, broadcast on HBO, the point to be noted is how the Lashkar-i-Taiba “controller” communicates with the 10 terrorists with whom he is constantly in touch on the cellphone during the 60 hours of terror that shook the city in November 2008. The transcript of the conversation has been replayed in the film. The attackers are constantly addressed as “brothers” and receive a lot of encouragement by being reminded of the “greatness” of their deed and the bounties that await them in the next world. No chains were needed.

Source: Dawn

10 thoughts on “Chains not needed

  1. @Zubeida Mustafa@

    Yet another strong and in time article.

    Chains: Chaining system has prevailed and is prevailing through out. Some are being detected. Further there are mainly two types of chains: 1) Visible generally made of Iron and 2) Invisible but sensed or felt.

    Here are some types/examples of Chains:

    a. A couple who gets broken after 8 or 10 years of together living means either husband or wife was under Invisible Chains.
    b. An Indian IT professional killed wife at Dehradun (it was a newspaper and TV news) and made too many pieces of her body. One by one he was disposing it. But his crime was detected. Just imagine the agony of parents and relatives of wife as they came to know. Similarly an Indian youth killed Israel girl as she reminded him promise of marriage. She was also cut into pieces and stores in freezer. But parents of the boy chose to report to Police. In both these cases CHAIN was there even after death.

    c. Bonded labor existed in many Asian, African countries and of course in USA. Read the life story of Abraham Lincoln.

    d. Now-a-days bonded labor does not exists legally but practically still exists. Employees are forced to continue and are being lured at short-lived lollipop.

    e. Around 1960 we would see a little girl in neighbor and then stopped to see her. With the passage of time we forget her. But one day gentleman came and invited for marriage of her daughter. We equipped there is no girl child then why you invite and told him to be sure. He told we never allowed our girl child to come out on attaining her age of eight – now she is mature. A unique example of Chaining.

    Human Right does exists but still do not exists for many Chaining or Exploitation.

  2. I certainly agreed that no chains are needed because the contemporary exploiting factors which are commonly existing in our society are enough to fulfill the needs. Better education system (curriculum + methods + facilities) and well trained teachers is my hope for Pakistan's youth.

  3. dear zubeida,
    As one who took part in the jihaad in afghanistan-i can assure you
    that ho one was forced to go into it at all.So the question of
    chaining them and training them to be suicide bombers is all piffle
    and balderdash-they may have been chained for some other reason -some
    ulteror motive-the problem with our chattering classes is that they
    are completely cut off from the common people.
    in my own case -as i had led many delegations of pakistan-i was
    requested by syed munawar hassan to advise the afghan mujahideen on
    foreign policy-but i soon realized after a diplomatic faux pas had
    been committed by them-that until and unless i go for jihad
    they would not take me seriously.
    So i went for my first jihaad-so i came to know its basic rudiments
    and the life itself-when i came back i wrote an
    article on my visit for jihaad-it was published through my aligarh
    contemporary ian talbot then undersecretary of state.
    general zia my college contemporary in delhi-read it and
    called me to pindi and asked me 'why did you go for jihaad'-i replied
    to prove the world's greatest historian according to toynbee-ibn
    khaludun wrong that great families like mine decay in three
    finally do remember that the taliban are going to come in power in
    afghanistan which is in pakistan's interest otherwise india will sit
    on both fronts kashmir and afghanistan which is detrimental to our
    i had also advised gn zia to enforce sharia instead of the fcr-he
    refused-i told him that in swat and buner the british fought a war for
    20 years-then said to the maulana 'ok you en force sharia'-hr himself
    did not becoe the head of swat but made aurangzzeb's grand father as
    the head-but bhutto like indira gandhi abolished all the states and
    enforced the british codes which are not applicable in uk itself.

    samin khan,

  4. here must be a proper inquiry in this case. blood test of the boys found in shackles
    must be done by honest professional people to know the truth.
    Justice Majida Razvi

  5. As you have written : " —If the Taliban are now using religion to achieve their goal of winning power, they are not doing something new. Others have done it before. It is the extremist, violent and brutal nature of their strategies that distinguishes them from the others, although some political parties in mainstream politics also resort to violence.

    Hence the phenomenon of extremism should be studied at two levels, with both being indispensable to each other. One is the leadership level and the other is the rank and file level without which the leaders cannot function.–"

    If in the years ( or months) to come , the Afghan Taliban come back to political power in Kabul and Kandahar,
    it will be a big boost to the moral and the enterprising spirit of similar groups inside Pakistan.

    A reasonably efficient Madrassa , i feel , need not take the step of chaining or the use of force to create its potential sucide-bombers. Its just a question of brain-washing. William Sargent in " The Battle for the Mind " says that there are 4 types of humans. One type just can not be brain washed. The other type lies at the other extreme . These can be brainwashed easily. The other two kinds , hang somewhere in between the types 1 and 4.

    What surprises me is that they can create even female sucide-bombers. That takes a deeper level of
    fanaticism !!

    Is the struggle against the Taliban a political one or a sociological one ??

    In South Asia, the LTTE of Shri Lanka could not succeed inspite of sucide-bombers and inspite of the use of force against the civilians. The Sinhalese opposing the Tamils , were equally determined and ruthless.

    During the Khalistan insurgency in Indian Punjab, the armed might of the state had to use ruthless countermeasures.
    In Nepal, the leftist Maoists had ultimately to seek a political compromise with other national parties____after the Nepalese Army realized that it was an un-winable stalemate.

  6. What is obscurantism? Or to be an obscurantist? Do people like you, Zubaida, and others want to forget about practising the fundamentals of Islam? To say one's prayers, to pay Zakat, or to carry out hajj? If this is obscurantism I am an obscurantist. As for the chained boys, 50 or so in number, kindly verify as to whether it was really a MADRASSAH or Madrassah system is being defamed. No person can condone that incident of chaining but never ever established Madrassahs do so. Don't disrepute Madrassahs.

  7. Read your latest article – No Chains Needed. I couldn't agree more. Early last year they played the same phone conversation on BBC and was in shock and awe to discover how the controller coerced the guy with words towards opening the fire – he certainly didn't want to! I could place the dialect they were speaking to my ancestral village – breeding ground for (back when I was in Pakistan) for contract killers. I want be surprised if it has turned into one to groom the extremists!

    People living in rural areas makes a big part of Pakistan's population; and they live in the age of darkness! these people have no access to modern education, no real purpose in line and are languishing away in darkness. Anyone can exploit them, give them a purpose of their life and use them for whatever vested interest they have….

    I truly believe provision of impartial education and awareness to each and every soul living in Pakistan is the key to all the vices of our society. When Pakistanis go abroad and get a level playing field – they do wonders! They certainly can do the same in their own homeland if the right opportunity and fair system and platform is provided. How is it ever going to happen? Do we need another Quaid and another Allama? – where are we going to get them. or Do we need those students to set the tone again?

  8. The Topic should have been 'Iron Chains not needed".

    I have already commented Chain system exist every where. And anyone including Govt can achieve their respective goal by selecting suitable invisible chains. Govt enacts law and set syllabus to achieve desired results. Political parties highlight their views and successes to chain masses for votes. Presently (believing on press reports) Imran Khan – PTI – has chained many.

    I would like to explain another type of Chains from two Bollywood songs:

    " yeh jhooth hai ki tumne hame pyar kiya hai, hamne tumhe apni zulfon mein girftar kiya hai" from NIKAH

    " yeh hai reshmi zulfon ka andhera na ghabraeiye, jahan tak mehak ho mere gesuaon (hairs) ki chale aayeain" from MERE SANAM.

    Similarly eyes has worked to chain any opposite person. In all romantic films hero or heroine would succeed to chain his/her opponent but a villain using force ultimately fails.

    My assertion here is not to create any romantic or musical scenario but to stress that the goal achieved by employing " non-iron Chains" succeeds ultimately.

    @ Respected Mustafa!

    The Chains are needed, however, Chains made of Iron (forcibly) not needed.

    Would you agree and accept to change the topic?


  9. Granted, this is a heinous crime, but what has the society done to provide lodging and food for the students who belong to the marginalized section of our society? Criticising someone is easy, and it's become a norm of our society as well, but will the editor of a newspaper or any liberal social worker ever think about opening such centres of rehabilitation for the poor and downtrodden? Never. Why? Because they find solace in venting catharsis in their offices and drawing rooms at those who've no platform to air their grievances, without doing anything practical. Pragmatism and realism are the words that are perhaps alien to these diehard liberals.

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