The threat within
Saturday, 12 Dec, 2009
The story of five young men who made their way from Washington D.C. to Sargodha ostensibly in search of extremist indoctrination and possibly terrorist training is deeply unsettling.
Let’s drop the pretence of this being a purely law-enforcement issue: the latest incident is yet more evidence that Pakistan has become a magnet for those inspired by a millenarian doctrine that preaches hate and seeks to wreak devastation in the name of religion.
Worse yet, there is no sign that the state is working to shut down this infrastructure of hate-mongering and religious indoctrination — meaning that almost inevitably aspiring foreign terrorists will meet real terrorists here and be able to carry out a terrorist plot somewhere. What then? Let us not fool ourselves, another 9/11, 7/7, Madrid train bombing or Mumbai-style attack and Pakistan will find itself in a corner, friendless and the focus of the world in a very negative way.
In the days after 9/11, according to a now-legendary apocryphal story, the Americans threatened to bomb Pakistan back into the Stone Ages. Nine years later, with international suspicions of Pakistan’s ‘problematic-ness’ buttressed by fact, the reaction to an attack in the US today that is linked to this country is something no Pakistani could want to see.
Looking at the world from inside Pakistan, it may not be clear just how poorly this country is viewed elsewhere. But there are frequent clues for those willing to connect the dots. For example, a BBC report has claimed that ‘Pakistanis are more likely to be turned down for visas to visit the UK than any other nationals.’ We have written previously about the injustices in the UK visa process for Pakistanis and those factors certainly have played a part in the 41 per cent rejection rate for family-visa applicants from Pakistan. But without a doubt, it is also the alarm over Pakistanis with links to or contacts with extremist groups and individuals who may be trying to enter the UK that has driven up the rejection rate for visa applicants.
Let us also be clear that shutting down the jihad and terrorism infrastructure in Pakistan is not just about helping the outside world. Clearly, any responsible nation has duties towards other nations. But the fact is, the biggest victim of terrorism so far has been Pakistan itself. Thousands upon thousands of people have been killed inside the country, with no end in sight. Spurring the killers is the same terrorist infrastructure that some foreign nationals are in search of. So we need to defeat that infrastructure and we need to defeat it primarily for our own sake.
I could not have said this any better myself, although yes I know... I already have.