Jihadists must be fought in society

By Aasim Sajjad Akhtar ,Dawn/Asia News Network

Tuesday’s earth-shattering killings in Peshawar took place on the 43rd anniversary of the Pakistani surrender in Dhaka. Coincidence it might be, but what a poignant one. Tragedy can precipitate momentous change. The government-commissioned Hamood-ur-Rahman report confirmed that a sweeping overhaul was necessary if what remained of Pakistan was to emerge on the other side of 1971 bolder, better, and more just. In short, we had an opportunity to write a new script, to come to terms with the fact that the hitherto conceived ��Pakistani nation�� was a myth that just did not correspond to our existing material reality. Sadly, although in hindsight, predictably, we decided only to reassert our ��Islamic�� essence with greater vigor than before. One argument is that the roots of ��Islamization�� can be traced to the early 1970s, before the coming to power of the Zia junta, when a thoroughly demoralized military establishment initiated a covert program to finance and train guerrilla fighters �X those who soon afterwards became known as the mujahedeen.

Tragedy Can Lead to Change Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, Burhanuddin Rabbani and others who would become prized ��strategic assets�� �X all had been patronized by the Pakistani security apparatus for years before the Soviet ��invasion�� of Afghanistan. The politics of jihad was not a defensive reaction to the communist superpower, it was a well-thought-out, long-term strategy to change the face of the region, and indeed Pakistani society itself. In the final analysis, then, the depths plunged between March and December 1971 did induce change. More than four decades later, there can be no gainsaying just how much the jihadi infrastructure and ideology have transformed our lives. Yet, predictably, we simply refuse to acknowledge the historical choices and political-economic structures that have given rise to a form of violence that is eating away at our collective psyche. All the Old Slogans Within hours of the attack on Tuesday, everyone and sundry was chanting the standard slogans about wiping out the last of the terrorists, and backing our heroic soldiers.