Say No To Terrorism
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My life has been struck by terrorism in many forms — terrorism from faceless gangs, terrorism sponsored by foreign lands and terrorism by the hand of a ruthless dictatorship in my own country.
My father, prime minister of Pakistan, was executed by terrorists unleashed in the name of the state against the common people. It was a loss that steeled my determination to challenge all forms of terrorism, no matter under what pretext those acts are committed. To me, terrorism can only be described as an exhibition of mindless violence against innocent people — there can never be proper justification for such acts.
But that doesn't not stop the excuses from being made. Frantz Fanon, in his book "The Wretched of the Earth" asserts that colonized people can become whole again by participating in violent politics and that violence used to create the colonial world can only be destroyed by violence.
What people like Fanon don't understand, however, is that the power of violence can never match the overwhelming power that comes from the will and determination of a people. Although it is important to maintain a clear distinction between terrorism for its own sake and terrorism as part of a struggle for self-determination, in either case violence is not the answer.
If developing nations are to overcome the problems facing them, they will do so through a victory over the hearts and minds of the world, and not the impact of a bomb.
Oftentimes, Islamic extremism has become synonymous with terrorism. Some argue that it was the Iranian revolution that began this association in peoples minds. That, however, was not the case. The Iranian revolution was a reaction against the authoritarian shah, who was seen by the Iranians as a "Western" ruler who used torture to crush them.
Rather, it was the Afghan freedom movement that gave birth to real Islamic militants across the Muslim world. Trained in religious schools, these terrorists believed they had singlehandedly beaten the Soviet superpower and that violence could solve any and all problems. It is our duty to prove that they are mistaken.
When Pakistan opposed the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan, our country was the target of numerous bomb blasts and random killings by terrorist gangs sent to dissuade us from our position. And, after the Soviet forces had been removed, "volunteers" who had gone to Afghanistan from other Muslim countries to fight the Soviets also ended up starting their own brand of terrorism, using Pakistani soil to stage extremist activities in other parts of the world.
But Pakistan survived the terrorism of these foreign agents because the minds and the hearts of our people were strong. We cleaned up Pakistan, extraditing terrorists and expelling extremists who would shed innocent blood.
For instance, the city Karachi — my birthplace and a former stronghold of extremist elements — has been made peaceful once more. This success was not without a price, however, as 250 police and 175 members of my party lost their lives in the struggle.
Despite these efforts, terrorism, particularly state-sponsored terrorism, continues to have a hold on our region. Tens of thousands of people in Jammu and Kashmir, for instance, have been killed at the hands of the brutal Indian state. "Twenty killed in the valley" is the kind of headline that has become a daily routine for Kashmir.
Bodies of innocent Kashmiris are discovered daily, brutally tortured and thrown away with utter disregard by the Indian security forces. Special laws in Indian-held Kashmir give the Indian security forces license to arrest, torture, rape or kill a Kashmiri without any accountability.
This is state terrorism at its most despicable, and because of this, India has morally and politically lost Kashmir and forced some to turn to militancy as a means of last resort.
The fundamental truth that will, in the end, lead to our victory over the forces of terror in this world is this: Terrorism will only anger the decent and honest people of the world and push them to renew themselves to the cause.
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